Indigenous comedy troupe The Deadly Aunties have humour in their DNA

The Deadly Aunties, an all-Indigenous, all-female comedy troupe are in the midst of their first tour. The Deadly Aunties

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Stephanie Pangowish has a thing for starting Indigenous comedy troupes.

Years ago she co-founded Toronto’s Manifest Destiny’s Child and last year — along with Sherry McKay and Shy Sapp — she founded The Deadly Aunties; an all Indigenous, all-female, travelling comedy troupe who are in the midst of their first tour.

The trio have been on the road since mid-July, heading west from Constance Lake, Ont. and wrapping up in Vancouver on Aug. 27.

“I thought there’d be a lot more bickering and stuff, but we just get along so well,” adds Sapp. “Like and we all have our strengths and our weaknesses, and so we all complement each other, it’s a well greased machine.”

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McKay chimes in, “real greasy.”


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♬ original sound – The Deadly Aunties Comedy

Each member grew up with comedy in some form and centre their stand up on lived experiences.

“It’s a part of our culture — humor and laughter — there’s always like a joke somewhere in any situation, like we’re able to make light of so many different situations and experiences, it’s ingrained in us,” said Sapp.

Indigenous people have a history of coping through comedy — linked to years of trauma through colonization – it has been a helpful tool for survival.

“There are people that bring that type of joy and laughter to the community, and sometimes it’s in smaller settings, sometimes it’s in ceremonies, sometimes it’s at the dinner table,” adds McKay.

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“For us to be able to share our talents and our stories with people outside of our communities and cities … it’s been an incredible gift.”

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And for Pangowish, humour is healing.

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“I found out how it actually is in our DNA, and then when I started thinking about it, I was like, well, it’s because of all the good things that we do in our life and in our culture, like praying, dancing, singing, celebrating, acknowledging all those things brings good feelings and all that,” she said.

“When we comes to things that are barriers, how do we make those smaller? We make fun of it. It’s easier to overcome when you make fun of those types of things. And I feel like that’s a common thread all over North America when it comes to Indigenous people.”

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If you plan on attending one of their remaining shows, The Deadly Aunties want you to know its for adults only.

“Everything comes in the form of a joke based on personal experiences — all kinds of people can relate to the things that we say because they either know someone or they are that someone that we’re talking about,” said Pangowish.

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“We also talk about all the good things about our people and our communities … all the beautiful things that we are and we reinforce and uplift each other.”

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So far, their shows have been mostly attended by Indigenous women and ally women and The Deadly Aunties couldn’t be more excited.

“We’re packing houses with audiences and mainstream comedy is an area where Indigenous people, we’ve been underrepresented,” said McKay. There’s a lot of content and stories out there and movies and shows that already focus on a lot of the trauma that we’ve gone through as Indigenous people.”

“We want to share the good things and we want to bring laughter and happiness to people.

“We have jokes for everybody,” adds Sapp. “You’ll laugh at least once, at least one time, promise.”


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