It’s been quite the year for Tita Collective: they clinched the 2019 Steamwhistle Producers’ Pick at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival and won Patron’s Pick and the Second City Outstanding New Comedy Award at Toronto Fringe. Now, they’re back with Tita Jokes, an extended version of their award-winning show, to ring in the new year.

We chatted with Ann Paula Bautista, Belinda Corpuz, Isabel Kanaan, Alia Rasul, Maricris Rivera and Ellie Posadas to get the scoop on the new iteration of Tita Jokes, their goals for the new year, and how they’ll be spending the holidays.

SDTC: What’s a holiday tradition you like to keep alive in your own home?

Ellie: A grandchild is always voluntold to be the “Santa” of the gift opening. The Titas and Titos all want to see the kids open gifts ONE BY ONE. This always takes a long time, but it’s pretty funny.

Maricris: We watch our favourite Christmas movies when we get together: Home Alone, Elf, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. 

Belinda: A holiday tradition I like to keep alive in my home is making a food offering (atang in Tagalog) to my ancestors and loved ones who have passed. That way, they can join us in keeping the holiday spirit alive! Get it? Spirits. Hehe.

Ann: My family is always super busy during Christmas so the most traditional thing we do is simply gather together for dinner.

Isabel: We have a live band and we all sing and dance until everyone has to leave. Then once everyone is gone, we karaoke until the next morning. 

Alia: Watching Star Wars Episodes IV, V and VI for the millionth time.

How will you be spending the holidays this year?

Ellie: We always spend it at Tito Nanding’s house out in Mississauga. My family is huge, so we basically camp out and fill up the whole house from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day.  

Maricris: I’ll be spending the holidays with my family, resting (hopefully) and eating a lot of food. Time to bring out stretchy pants!

Belinda: I’ll be spending the holidays surrounded by loved ones, and indulging in a lot of Filipin* food!

Ann: At home recouping! I’m currently doing Peter Pan at Soulpepper and I have Christmas off! 

Isabel: With my whole family in the Philippines.

Alia: I’ll be spending it with family in D.C.!

Which Filipina had the most profound effect on your life, and how?

Ellie: I can’t choose between my Lola and my Mom so i’d have to say both of them. My mom showed me resilience and me how to cook Sinigang. My Lola showed me how to be outspoken and how to take the subway.

Maricris: My mama! She surrounded me and my sisters with art when we were kids; taking us to see musicals, and enrolling us in piano and dance classes. I felt encouraged to be creative, which I’m very grateful for. She also sings in her church choir, so I was surrounded by harmonies at an early age!

Belinda: My mother, my real life Titavenger – she is the strongest person I know.

Ann: My mom! Her sacrifice and struggle working abroad is inspiring and I’m super grateful and proud of her.

Isabel: I draw a lot of inspiration from my mother. She’s such a big character and seeing her be unapologetically her gives me strength to be my full goofy self. This led me to a career in acting and comedy so I have her to thank for all of it!

Alia: My mom finds strength and good in everything. I strive to be as graceful and compassionate as she is.

Can you share a story/joke from your upcoming performance as a teaser?

Ellie: Nothing cures a broken heart better than Filipino food.

Maricris: A wild Pokémon might make an appearance!

Belinda: As you can see from the answer above, one of our sketches are inspired by Marvel and the Avengers series. There are also so many jokes to choose from, many of which will include talongs (eggplants), roosters, and fans – lots and lots of fans (it gets hot onstage!)

Ann: Wifi passwords can get really complicated!

Isabel: “Does the west deserve the GREATNESS of UBE?!?!”

Alia: There is going to be a rooster, it will be majestic.

What should audiences expect from Tita Jokes?

Ellie: IT’S A BIG PARTY. This show has something for everyone. You’ll leave feeling hungry for Filipino food and/or like you’ve just finished an ab workout.

Maricris: Audiences can expect catchy songs, a whole lot of laughs, and seeing strong, layered Filipina characters onstage. Also colourful fans.

Belinda: Audiences can expect to be welcomed into our FamJam! We love creating a community out of our audience every night, and we invite them to dance, sing and laugh with us!

Ann: People can expect a 75 mins of laughs, tears, and lots of gossip.

Isabel: Music, comedy, heart, and it will leave them thinking about what they saw for days to come.

Alia: The result of a strong sisterhood and community, they will witness a group of goofball Filipinas having fun while lifting each other up and living their best lives.

Goals for the New Year?

Ellie: Music! And other than to continue to keep killing it with the Tita Collective, I’d like to do my version of a ‘Red Table Talk’ but with food or something like that.

Maricris: To learn more stories from the communities I am a part of, write more music, and continue creating work with the Titas!

Belinda: To move through my work with intention, gratitude, and joy!

Ann: To continue believing in what I can offer as an artist, woman, and Filipina!

Isabel: To have my writing and performances reach a wider audience.

Alia: I’m going to make a Dante Basco shirt, post it on Instagram and my ideal situation is that Dante Basco sees the shirt thinks it’s funny and in turn, wears an Alia Rasul shirt and we go back and forth and then become best friends.

Tita Jokes runs from January 8th – 19th 2020 at Next Stage Theatre Festival, Factory Theatre, Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street).