I’ve not seen a huge amount of sketch comedy; I’ve been made wary—and a little weary—from several underwhelming experiences. And what I have seen has been pretty standard fair, in that most (if not all) of the performers have been white and the references have been undeniably Euro-Canadian-centric. As the Tita Collective point out to the non-Filipino audience members at the top of Tita Jokes, playing in the Toronto Fringe Festival, they’ve been bombarded endlessly with references they don’t understand and now it’s our turn.
With a Filipino boyfriend, I must confess, I’m familiar with a few of the specific references, having been treated to a myriad of delicious foods and cultural quirks over the past few years. And it was great fun to share this particular experience with him! But even those completely unfamiliar with anything Pinoy will appreciate the lolz, after all: that’s what the Tita Collective is there to show you!
Tita Jokes is created and performed by: Ann Paula Bautista, Belinda Corpuz, Isabel Kanaan, Ellie Posadas, Alia Rasul, and Maricris Rivera. They have framed the show as a Filipina Spice Girls tour, on the final leg of their journey. They squabble, provoke and eventually come to terms with their unique personalities and collective dynamic. We get to know each of them intimately; they have taken great care to highlight their unique personalities. Even as they inhabit a variety of different personas for the sketches, there is a consistent and clearly defined underlying personality for each.
The sketches focus on aspects of the Filipino-Canadian immigrant experience and explore generational conflicts. While over the top, these highlight very relatable situations where the humour arises from differing attitudes and expectations.
In one brilliant sketch, a Filipina is on a date with a generic (though very endearing) white-bred Canadian guy and the humour comes from the awkwardness of her constantly checking in with her Canadian and Filipina personas, hovering intrusively over her shoulders and fighting for attention. This very real phenomenon of being caught between and genuinely identifying with two cultures becomes a hilarious and insightful spectacle.
Another favourite bit is a riff on The Avengers, where a group of Filipina Titas come out of retirement to solve a mystery. The “Titavengers” use their super powers of gossip, excess food preparation, and pyramid-scheming to defeat an arch villain. There are some surprising and relevant gags and reveals that relate to the current political situation in the Philippines.
The Tita Collective both lampoons and celebrates Filipino culture and offers a refreshing alternative to the abundant white, male energy that dominates the comedy scene. With shout outs to queer and trans identities, Tita Jokes provides laughs, challenges your expectations, and will likely leave you feeling both appreciative and appreciated.