Tita Jokes (Tita Collective) 2020 Next Stage Review

Picture of Belinda Corpuz, Ellie Posadas, Maricris Rivera, Alia Rasul, Isabel Kanaan in Tita Jokes

Tita Collective bring their Fringe hit Tita Jokes to Next Stage Festival. This light-hearted, musical sketch show reflects on what it means to be both a Tita and a Philippinx Canadian and is relatable to audience members of all backgrounds.

Tita Collective is made up of six creator-performers – Ann Paula Bautista, Belinda Corpuz, Isabel Kanaan, Ellie Posadas, Alia Rasul, and Maricris Rivera. From the outset, each member of the collective takes on a certain Tita trait (many of them echoing the Spice Girls monikers) and slip in and out of these character types throughout.

The sketches and songs primarily meditate on the dynamic (and sometimes, tension) between Titas and their diasporic children and grandchildren. Along the way, the Collective explores related topics like gender, sexuality, gendered labour, and love languages. They manage to delve into these with ease while maintaining a lighthearted tone throughout the show.

I had fun watching this show and had a smile on my face throughout. It’s so clear that this show is a joy to perform for Tita Collective, and their energy is infectious. As a non-Philippinx audience member, I appreciate the work they did to bring us up to speed about some cultural tropes and inside jokes (through their recurring “Now You Know” song). There are also plenty of jokes that went over my head, but it was just as fun hearing others laugh hysterically at them.

There were some elements to this show I could relate to, namely, growing up as a diasporic Asian, being raised Christian (and enduring my gossipy grandmother in church), and having a mother and grandmother who express affection with food. As such, I think there is something for many audience members to enjoy here.

I will say that I noticed I wasn’t laughing quite as loud or as often as other audience members, and not for the reason of cultural difference. I felt like every sketch had a clever premise, but the overall execution felt a bit unpolished to me. I think my major note would be that many of the sketches were just a bit too long. It occasionally resulted in a feeling of tedium rather than effective comedic repetition. I also felt like the transitions between sketches were often a little long and clunky, though it’s possible this was due to still finding their feet in a new space on opening night.

Another element that felt a little unfinished was the live musical accompaniment by Ayaka Kinugawa. Throughout the show, the Collective’s original songs oscillate between employing Kinugawa’s live performance and pre-recorded backtracks. One sketch features Kinugawa bemoaning the fact that the show doesn’t highlight her talents. Other than that, I felt like her presence on stage wasn’t really needed because many of the songs just used backing tracks. I really enjoyed the one sketch she was featured in, and it left me wanting her to be more integrated with the show.

Overall though, I had lots of fun watching this show and would recommend it for audience members seeking a lighthearted, heartful time.

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Photo of Belinda Corpuz, Ellie Posadas, Maricris Rivera, Alia Rasul, Isabel Kanaan by Denaly Tran

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