Indigenous comedians share how laughter is integral to their lives

Comedians share their thoughts about the aspects of Indigenous humour. 

Winnipeg Comedy Festival performers come together to share some insight, and laughs

Issa Kixen, Joyce Delaronde and Jasmine Tara share in some laughter while discussing Indigenous humour. (Jane Puchniak)

Have you ever heard a laugh that instantly makes you smile and laugh, too? It's probably an Indigenous auntie! 

Women and two-spirit comedians performed together to provoke that laughter as part of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival last week. A few of them shared their thoughts about the aspects of their humour and why it's so integral to their lives. 

"Indigenous woman laughter will literally shake a room," said Jasmine Tara, a Winnipegger who is a member of Peguis First Nation, about 160 kilometres north of Winnipeg. 

"Any time me and my family go out for dinner anywhere, I know patrons are either happy around us or a little annoyed because we're so loud with our laughing. I just love when you hear that, like, big auntie laugh, you know you're near somebody comfortable and good."

Tara said teasing is another thing she loves about Indigenous humour. 

"If you're getting teased, it's a good thing," she said.

"It's a way to show that someone actually enjoys your company, if you're getting teased."

Jasmine loves to laugh and says being surrounded by Indigenous women comedians is a safe and comforting space. (CBC)

Joyce Delaronde, also known as "Skinny Kookoo" is Métis and a sketch comedy veteran. She said she gets her inspiration from her family, where she grew up in Duck Bay, Man. 

"One of the best memories for me growing up is just going to my family's house and just sitting around the kitchen table, and talking and laughing for hours on end about absolutely nothing whatsoever," said Delaronde. 

"I just love it. I think it's an endearing trait as well that a lot of people don't get to see." 

Delaronde also said brutal honesty can translate to funny moments. She recalls talking with an auntie. 

"'Are you one of those?' she said to me. I said, 'One of what?' She says, 'You know, one of those who don't eat.' We laugh about it. It's not intended to be rude; it's just so honest, that's all." 

Joyce Delaronde, also known as 'Skinny Kookoo' has been doing sketchy comedy online for a number of years in Manitoba. (CBC)

Issa Kixen, a comedian and an associate producer with CBC Manitoba, said the concept that women or non-binary folks aren't funny is inaccurate, and it's important for them to take up space in the comedy world. 

"Women are actually funnier than men," Kixen said, who is a member of Couchiching First Nation in northwestern Ontario. 

"If you go to a family gathering, who are we laughing at? We're laughing at our aunties, we're laughing at our kookums, we're laughing at our auntie-cousins. It's so important and it's so vital."

Indigenous comedians talk about the power of laughter

10 months ago
Duration 2:29
Women and two-spirit comedians share their thoughts about humour and why it's so integral to their lives.

Kixen said laughter is needed in trying times.

"Indigenous laughter, it's medicine. It's how we cope, you know," said Kixen. 

"We've been through generations of trauma, and the one thing that we've always had is laughter. I think now more than ever, it's one of the most important things that we can give back to our community."


Renée Lilley

Reporter, CBC Indigenous

Renée Lilley is a reporter for CBC Indigenous based in Winnipeg. She is a recipient of the CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowship for 2022 and is a recent University of Winnipeg grad with a BA in rhetoric and communications. She has reported for radio and online news in her hometown of Portage la Prairie, Man. She is also a proud Métis mama of four girls.