In Good Humour


Brody Rokstad
Duncan Cairns-Brenner
Sunny Nestler

Illness isn’t easy to talk about. Many people don’t even know how to approach the subject, let alone discuss it at length. That’s why what local comedians Alicia Tobin and Kevin Lee are up to is so cool. They host Super! Sick! Podcast! in which they discuss chronic health conditions — both their own and their guests’ — and they can make you laugh while they do it.

Kevin Lee || Photography by Duncan Cairns-Brenner for Discorder Magazine

Tobin and Lee are longtime friends through the Vancouver comedy scene and were looking for a new project. Tobin has hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, and Lee has atrial fibrillation, a serious form of heart arrhythmia. Somewhere along the way, it dawned on them that their health issues could become a conduit to create something positive that could help people with similar experiences.

“I think people suffer in silence – well, we certainly don’t,” Tobin says, laughing. “But fundamentally, we wanted to get to know people, not just other comedians. We want to meet people who are experiencing a diagnosis and to learn about what that’s like.” Often, people with a health crisis or experiencing chronic illness can feel alone and misunderstood. “The anxiety and stress of it all can be isolating and overwhelming,” says Lee. “So then even just hearing people on a podcast discussing something similar, you connect to that as well. Hopefully, as the podcast goes on, we’ll see a community spring up.”

Alicia Tobin || Photography by Duncan Cairns-Brenner for Discorder Magazine

It’s apparent while listening to the podcast that the comics know each other well. They’re both very clever and have a playful sense of humour, and they’re not afraid to throw some toilet humour in the mix, either. “We make a lot of poop jokes,” laughs Tobin. Understandably, using comedy to approach these issues carries some inherent risk if not applied skillfully. “Are we going to be too dour?” Lee ponders when considering how to approach the podcast content. “Or, are we going to be cracking jokes so much that it will seem, like, ‘is this about being sick or is this just about cum jokes?’” Arguably, they’ve struck a perfect balance, with the assistance of their producer, Jay Hosking. In addition to being naturally funny, Tobin and Lee are intelligent and kind, allowing them to approach difficult subject matter with tact and compassion. The podcast is sweet without being saccharine, and funny without being flippant.

There’s something about humour that makes it a powerful tool for dealing with the darker realities of life. “Certain tragedies or situations feel absurd and exactly opposite to the way life needs to be,” Lee explains. “Humour is the way to bridge that absurdist gap between what is expected and what you actually get.” Tobin agrees: “Humour is a really great way to communicate bigger ideas and to build trust.” She continues, “It’s a way that I’m open with people.” There’s a simple and powerful beauty in humour. It can help create an environment where people feel seen and heard. “After humour can often come lots of listening, empathy and sincere connection,” adds Lee.

Illustration by Sunny Nestler for Discorder Magazine

This sincerity and authenticity comes through strongly on the podcast. Combined with the hosts’ wit, it all helps to educate and encourage empathy through the candid sharing of experiences. “It’s laughing to help people understand their own illness. Or, if someone has a friend going through a medical problem of some kind and doesn’t know how to deal with it, hopefully this podcast can offer some sort of insight into how to connect with them and make them feel like it’s alright and they’re okay,” says Lee.

“Something we’re doing on this podcast seems – not bigger than us, but in a way… better than us. I hadn’t anticipated that feeling,” says Tobin. “I get goosebumps thinking about the podcast and the potential it has.”

When you listen to the podcast you just may get that tingly feeling deep down, too. Or, it might be that you laughed too hard and peed your pants.



Follow Super! Sick! Podcast! wherever you subscribe to podcasts and visit for archived shows and updates.


Jennifer Brûlé
Douglas Vandelay
Sara Baar
Jamie Loh

Nasty Women, unsurprisingly, is an all-women sketch comedy group based in Vancouver. Founded by Jenny Rube, the group is comprised of a laundry list of some of the city’s greatest rising talent, listed in no particular order: Rae Lynn Carson, Kerri Donaldson, Racquel Belmonte, Ese Atawo, the aforementioned Jenny Rube, Stacey McLachlan, Allie Entwistle, Denea Campbell, Annalise Stuart and Carla Mah.

Discorder’s Jennifer Brûlé sat down with Jenny, Allie and Kerri to discuss everything Nasty Women.


Is Nasty Women sketch comedy or improv or both?

Jenny: It’s mostly both. First half is sketch, second half is improv. A couple of times we’ve done just all improv, [or] sketch like Saturday Night Live. Usually we have a theme for the show with everything planned out, and then we’ll do sketches either new ones or pre-existing ones.


What kind of sketch do you do? Is it geared towards more of a feminist lens?

J: Honestly we’re just women who do comedy; not just; we are women who do comedy.

Kerri: It’s just, none of us are setting out to write a feminist sketch, but we all are feminists, so it naturally comes out in our writing. We just write what we want to do. That being said, so many of our sketches come out that way, and all of a sudden a silly premise is a metaphor that’s bigger than us, involving political satire and the the state of affairs.

Photography by Sara Baar for Discorder Magazine

Why is now a great time for Nasty Women to exist?

K: I think now, more than ever, there’s a movement happening, so every time a bunch of girls are going to get together it becomes political, you know? We’re just comedians, individually, and we didn’t set out to change anything.

Allie: We set out to be comedians.

K: Yeah, we just want to make people laugh, but the act of us coming together is a very political choice. Like, here we are and this is what we want to say. Because, we’ve all had our own experiences where we’ve been in shows and groups and stages where we were the only female, or we were made to feel unsafe, or unwelcome in either overt ways or subtle ways. So, [Nasty Women] is just like our way of taking it back. As much as it’s political, we just want to work together and have fun.

A: There have been times where I am the only woman and it’s tiring. You’re often made to play parts where, all of a sudden, you’re the princess, or the girlfriend, or the wife.

J: I have been on a team where I’m the only girl in the group, and then people look to you to fill the female role. Because, when you’re the only female in the group, you should be doing these roles like the powerful one, or the bossy one, or the complacent one and you have to nail it. The pressure is higher and if you don’t… It’s just, I have felt held to a different standard. What’s great about this troupe is that were all women and we play whatever role we want.

A: What I do love about Nasty Women is that because sometimes, as a woman, I will take a back seat and let a dude do more. But when I look around, it’s all women and we’re in charge.

K: Yeah, exactly. Women play so differently with each other, I like playing with men too, but it’s just different energy. With women, we don’t have to shy away from specific stories like we do with men and be like, “Oh no, he’ll feel uncomfortable about this very specific female thing that happens to women.”

Illustation by Jamie Loh for Discorder Magazine

What is your favourite aspect of working and collaborating with other women?

K: Everything. It’s my favourite show, so much fun. I look forward to it, and there’s never any dread in my heart. I feel supported. The audience is always excited to be [at the Biltmore] on a Monday night, and immediately excited and ready to go, which makes the perfect combination for comedy. We all adore each other as well.

A: In an environment that could be competitive, this group of girls always support each other.

J: There are 10 of us, so we all have our own opinion, but I have never not felt heard.




Follow Nasty Women Comedy on Facebook, Twitter @nastywomenvan, or on Instagram @nastywomencomedy for upcoming performances, and news on individual comedians and side-projects. The next Nasty Women Comedy show is on May 14 at the Biltmore Cabaret, 8:30PM. Tickets are $10 in advance or $14 at the door.