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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Fat Joke puts fatphobia under the spotlight

The Cultch continues its 2024 Femme Festival with the world premiere of Cheyenne Rouleau's new play.

The Cultch continues its 2024 Femme Festival with the world premiere of Fat Joke.

As a fat person, I never thought of myself as ‘sexy.’ Society never allowed me to be. So I got funny. – Cheyenne Rouleau

From Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre, in association with Rumble Theatre, Fat Joke is a mix of stand-up comedy, storytelling, and fact-blasting that puts fatphobia under the spotlight.

Drawing upon personal experience and research, comedian, actor, and writer Cheyenne Rouleau dissects this often-untalked-about topic with content that ranges from media misrepresentation to diet culture, from mental health to eating disorders, from medical bias to white supremacy, ableism, and income disparity.

“I think this show challenges some assumptions around health and wellness,” says Rouleau. “About what it’s like to really exist in a fat body and have the outside world constantly judging you for something that maybe you can’t control or just something that’s a part of your identity.”

Neworld Theatre’s artistic director, Chelsea Haberlin, who also directed the play, commissioned it after receiving research on the topic from Rouleau. Haberlin says the research challenged “some of the assumptions that we have about fatness and health, the way that we perceive bodies in our North American culture, and the stories we attach to those bodies.

Given its content, the play comes with audience warnings about the sensitive themes it tackles, including depictions of child predators and mentions of abortions, cannibalism, misogyny, genocide, slavery, eugenics, racism, systemic oppression, sexual assault and mental illness. There is also significant discussion on fatphobia, diet culture, and eating disorders.

Fat Joke Cultch’se Cultch’s Vancity Culture Lab (1895 Venables St., Vancouver) from April 25 through May 5. Visit for tickets and information.

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