On Stage Ate Reg Acts and Looks Like Regine
Known as a tribute artist to Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, 32-year old transgender stand-up comedian Ate Reg (Marvin Cleofas in real life) is rising to fame because of her uncanny likeness to the Pinay diva. She has become such a great impersonator that even Regine’s husband, singer Ogie Alcasid, at times mistakes her for his wife.
After her musical show “Raging Divas” became a success, Ate Reg now aspires to show the world that there is more to her than being a copy cat. Pinay.Com got to meet Ate Reg where she stars, at Zirkoh Comedy Bar in Tomas Morato, Quezon City. Below is the story of her life as stand-up comedian.
You are known by many names: Ate Mavey, Ate Mavy, Ate Reg, and here at Zirkoh—Ate Redj. Which name do you best identify yourself with?
They call me Ate Mavey because my real name is Marvin. I started to work as an impersonator in 2007 at The Library, in Malate. I did sexy actress Aubrey Miles back then. In 2010, I starred in a documentary film “Si Erin at Si Mavey.” I started impersonating Ms. Regine Velasquez in 2008. I went by Regine V., but to evade confusion, I decided using the stage name Ate Reg. Zirkoh prefers to spell my name Redj, that’s why you saw my name written that way on the sign outside. But I prefer Ate Reg.
How did you start your career in stand-up comedy?
I started my transformation to becoming a Pinay when I was in college. I’m from Malabon but I studied in Valenzuela. I was a nursing student at Our Lady of Fatima University when my friend Ronnie Calazara (now deceased) invited me to become her stand-up comedy sparring partner at The Library in 2007. I needed work to help pay for my expenses in school so I did it. I still lack the thesis to earn my degree. But I hope to get it someday. For now, I am a full-time host/ singer/ comedian at Zirkoh on week nights. On weekends, I usually have gigs which are mall shows or provincial shows of GMA network. I host and sing while mimicking Ms. Regine Velasquez. (One successful nurse and singer is Dubai-based Marielle Castro.)
Tell us about Regine?
She is one of my idols. I was urged to impersonate her by my boss then, when I was a performer at The Library. It was hard. I had to study Ms. Regine’s videos on Youtube and be conscious about her every move. I was casted by Mama Andrew De Real and worked with Eva Papaya in the musical show series “Raging Divas” at The Library. It all comes natural to me now. To my surprise, my impersonation of Ms. Regine became a hit. I know Anton Diva does her already before I started. But she only copied Ms. Regine’s vocals. I copied her appearance.
So you are on TV?
My performances caught the attention of GMA Network and Ms. Regine Velasquez, which is why I also get stints now on TV. GMA labels me as “Asia’s Comic Songbird.” Mahirap (It is hard) to be a comic and a shadow of Ms. Regine. May (There are) restrictions. I have to be wholesome. I thank the fans for their love and respect.
Which is your most memorable work experience?
That is when I doubled for Ms. Regine in her teleserye “I Heart You Pare” in 2011. (I met her for the first time though on Party Pilipinas in 2009 and she told me she’s never met anyone who looks so much like her. ) It’s this project with her that opened a lot of doors for me. I go to GMA regional shows with her. I’ve done guestings on shows on different TV networks. But majority of my stints are with GMA. Ms. Regine is so nice, really. And I thank her. It’s funny when I remember Sir Ogie mistaking me for her behind the scenes of that teleserye we did together.
Describe the Pinay in you.
I’m conservative, shy and soft-spoken. I love my family. I’m a homebody. I love to watch movies on my spare time. I love shoes. My favorite brand is Stella Luna. But I also love Marikina shoes. I value the quality of pakikisama (get along). Maraming magaling (Many are good) but people will want to work with you again if you know how to get along.
What do you think gives the transgender Pinay artist an edge on the comedy stage?
We can host. We can sing. We have an edge because we’re maganda, (beautiful) charming, matalino (wise) and hard-working. (See 5 Pinay talents we are keeping our eye on: “Pinay Voice: Watch 5 Amazing Musical Talents.”)
Photos courtesy of Ate Reg and Michael Delacruz.