Have you ever heard a laugh that instantly makes you smile and laugh too? It’s probably an aboriginal aunt!
Two-Spirit women and comedians performed together to provoke that laughter at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival last week. A few of them shared their thoughts on aspects of their humor and why it is such an integral part of their lives.
“The laughter of Indigenous women will literally shake a room,” said Jasmine Tara, a Winnipegger from the Peguis First Nation, about 160 kilometers north of Winnipeg.
“Whenever my family and I go out to dinner anywhere, I know the customers are either happy around us or a little annoyed because we’re so loud with our laughter. I love it when you hear that, like , great aunt laughing, you know you are near someone comfortable and good.”
Tara said teasing is another thing she loves about Native humor.
“If you get teased, that’s a good thing,” she said.
“It’s a way to show that someone actually appreciates your company, if you get teased.”
Joyce Delaronde, also known as “Skinny Kookoo,” is of mixed race and a veteran of sketch comedy. She said she draws inspiration from her family, where she grew up in Duck Bay, Man.
“One of the best memories for me growing up is going to my family’s house and sitting around the kitchen table, and talking and laughing for hours about absolutely nothing,” said Delaronde.
“I love that. I think that’s also an endearing trait that a lot of people don’t see.”
Delaronde also said brutal honesty can translate into some fun times. She remembers talking with an aunt.
“‘Are you one of them?’ she said to me. I said, ‘One of what?’ She said, ‘You know, one of those who don’t eat.’ We laugh about it. It’s not meant to be rude, it’s so honest, that’s all.
Issa Kixen, comedian and associate producer at CBC Manitoba, said the concept that women or non-binary people aren’t funny is inaccurate and it’s important for them to take their place in the world of comedy. .
“Women are actually funnier than men,” said Kixen, who is a member of Couchiching First Nation in northwestern Ontario.
“If you go to a family reunion, who are we laughing at? We laugh at our aunts, we laugh at our kookums, we laugh at our cousin aunts. It’s so important and it’s so vital.”
Kixen said laughter is necessary in difficult times.
“Indigenous laughter is medicine. That’s how you get out of it, you know,” Kixen said.
“We’ve been through generations of trauma, and the one thing we’ve always had is laughter. I think now more than ever, that’s one of the most important things we can give back to our community.”