Gossip, Sex, and the End of the World is a hilarious compilation of sketches from the comedy ensemble Tongue In a Mood’s many shows that were performed in San Francisco at the Bindlestiff Studio in the ‘90s. The studio itself became a cornerstone for the Filipinx community and arts community as attendance to shows increased, as well as performers and staff.
This book is edgy and challenging in all the right ways. Through these sketches the reader may find themself giggling in their reading chair, pausing at the last page of a sketch to reflect on what just happened. It’ll make you think about these phenomena and family traditions in the Filipinx communities. It might make you drop your jaw in shock sometimes and what was just said.
One sketch called “Klosit Komrads” is the perfect example of all the emotions one might feel while reading this. Sort of like Toy Story, a large Spoon and Fork, an iconic Barrel man, Moro swords, a Tinikling dancer, and Jesus are all arguing over the fact that they were all “banished” in the changing Filipinx home. All the items were a ‘family’ upstairs until they were ‘thrown’ in a closet without warning. Then comes Plastic, the old sofa cover, who spent a short reflecting on how easy they were to use and maintain. Yet, even so, the Plastic had been taken off the sofa to show off the fancy furniture the family had obtained. The skit ends with the father of the house spilling wine on that sofa, upset while trying to scrub it off.
Through these items, some might feel nostalgic, many might still have them on display in their homes. Many, also, might now not know what these things are and never have seen them. Reading through the arguing of who was most important, useful, funny, historical – one has to pay attention to the context and history of the items. As a half Filipino reader, this was the most relatable sketch, wondering why my own family didn’t have these things in the house but rather bins in storage.
It was interesting enough for the sketch to have physical items arguing when the humans leave the room, but then bringing in Jesus was not only bold but also comical. It challenges the reader, or the member in the audience watching this sketch, to wonder why Jesus is a part of the ‘thrown’-away items. It forces reflection on the nature of families and communities changing. What do you as the reader see as keeping families away from church more often and changing as time goes on? Why would it be changing… Why did they take off the plastic cover if it is so useful to protect furniture from wine stains? Why was Jesus in the closet and not on the mantel?
I recommend this book to anyone looking for a laugh but especially those that are in any way connected to or interested in the Filipinx arts community with these roots in San Francisco. If you are, or even could be, interested in the history of other Filipinx arts, this is an engaging and educational place to start.
I encourage the reader to take those moments to pause and reflect on the things the sketches address. Enjoy the chaos of opening the doors to these conversations. Relish in the thought that these doors were opened almost 20 years ago.