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Fat Joke

By Cheyenne Rouleau

Produced by Neworld Theatre

An unfiltered, hilarious interrogation of fatphobia.

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Content Warning:
This show contains sensitive themes including depictions of child predators and mentions of abortions, cannibalism, misogyny, genocide, slavery, eugenics, racism, systemic oppression, sexual assault and mental illness. Additionally, there is significant discussion on fatphobia, diet culture, and eating disorders. Audience discretion is advised.



A mixture of stand-up comedy, storytelling, and fact-blasting, Fat Joke puts fatphobia under the spotlight. Drawing upon personal experience and research, comedian, actor, and writer Cheyenne Rouleau dissects this often-untalked-about topic with eviscerating wit. Think: Nanette by Hannah Gadsby meets Inside by Bo Burnham. This one-person show invites us to confront assumptions. It’s all the stuff people don’t feel comfortable talking about turned into a comedy show!

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

Coming to Digital Stage June 2024.  

In-person performance premiered at The Cultch, April 25—May 05, 2024, as part of Femme Festival 2024

Written and performed by Cheyenne Rouleau
Directed by Chelsea Haberlin
Dramaturged by Jiv Parasram
Set Design by Jenn Stewart
Assistant to the Set Designer Naju Ururahy
Sound Design by Mary Jane Coomber
Lighting & Projection Design by Andie Lloyd
Costume Design by Jessie Jade Churchill
Stage Managed by Jasmin Sandhu
Community Development Consultant  Layla Cameron
Accessibility Consultant  Siobhan Barker
Community Outreach Coordinator  Alexa Fraser
Production Manager Raes Calvert
Technical Director Jamie Sweeney
Assistant Technical Director Brianna Bernard

Neworld Theatre
Artistic Director Chelsea Haberlin
Managing Director Alen Dominguez
Producer Raes Calvert
Community Engagement Manager Angelica Schwartz
Artistic Associate Christine Quintana
Resident Technician Brianna Bernard

I’m not funny because I’m fat, I’m funny because my parents got divorced. That’s just science.

What started as a 10 minute PowerPoint presentation on Fatphobia meant to educate some shitty coworkers at my shitty office job has somehow turned into this. I’m so grateful to Chelsea for encouraging me to go down the rabbit hole of stories, facts, and introspection that has become Fat Joke, made possible by an enthusiastic producing team at Neworld, and made comprehensible by a hilarious and astute dramaturg, Jiv.

If there is one thing I’ve figured out from writing this play it’s that fatness is simultaneously incredibly important and completely irrelevant. And comedy is simultaneously incredibly unimportant and completely relevant.
    – Cheyenne Rouleau

Why we use the word ‘fat’

Fat activists, fat studies scholars, and fat communities use the word ‘fat’ for two reasons:

  1. It is simply a descriptive term, akin to other adjectives such as ‘short’ or ‘tall’. Thus, ‘fat’ can be used to identify someone who is fat.
  2. For political purposes.

Fat Joke intentionally uses this word for both reasons. It is simply a fact that the majority of those working on this production are fat and identify as such. However, it is also important to emphasize the political uses of this word.

The word ‘fat’ is intentionally used in fat communities to emphasize the physical and symbolic violence inflicted by the pathologization of fatness as a “disease.” As an act of protest, fat communities reject the use of words – such as “obese” or “overweight” – that medicalize naturally occurring body diversity.

Some fat people may prefer language such as plus-size, curvy, or large, and may be uncomfortable with others identifying them as fat. The persistence of fat stigma and the internalization of fatphobia (especially for those in bigger bodies) can make identifying as fat a jarring experience. A general rule of thumb in fat communities is to allow folks to opt-in to identifying as fat. Therefore, it is important to establish whether someone identifies as fat before referring to them as such. It is okay to ask someone what language they use to identify their positionalities, or how they would prefer to be spoken about! Consider this inquiry an important part of establishing an ethic of care in a specific space or interaction.

Categorizing fatness

What it means to be ‘fat’ is highly contested as the boundaries between fat and thin are increasingly blurred.

The fat spectrum is a useful tool to help categorize those who identify as fat. This categorization is important in identifying different experiences of fat people; experiencing discrimination and oppression on the basis of one’s size increases as one moves along the fat spectrum.

Clothing size is generally the measurement for categorizing fatness along the fat spectrum. As you can see in the chart below, credited to Ash of thefatlip.com, categories within fat identity have been defined by level of access to things such as clothing.

The Fatness Spectrum Graphic - Small Fat 1x-2x, Mid Fat 2x-3x, Superfat 4x-5x, Infinifat 6x and higher

Throughout the performance, you will hear Cheyenne refer to some of these categories as a way of acknowledging different experiences of fatness. Acknowledging these differences may be uncomfortable for some, but it is important to recognize how proximity to thin privilege further fragments the lived experiences of fat people.

Further reading on these topics:

This document was put together by Dr. Layla Cameron. If you have any further questions, please reach out to Neworld’s Community Engagement Manager, Angelica Schwarz

Over our 28-year history, we have produced, presented and toured multiple works annually at festivals and theatres in over 40 cities and 10 countries worldwide. Major awards include several Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards including the Sydney J Risk prize and Ray Michal prize as well as three Critics’ Choice Innovation Awards, two Arts Club Silver Commissions, the Seattle Times Footlight Award, multiple Jessie Richardson Awards, the Rio-Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, the Canada Council Staunch-Lynton Award and the Siminovitch Prize.

We would love to thank the Heavy Hitters, Melanie Yeats, Dani Fecko, GNW (Leigh, Kyle and John), Rokko Fabrics, The Cultch, Rumble Theatre, Isobel Bemrose-Fetter, Heather Glasgow, Janice Morris (KDocsFF), Mikenzie Page, Jesse Ray, and Christine Quintana.

Fat Joke was made possible with the support of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, the Province of British Columbia, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Fat Zine

About Neworld Theatre

We create, produce and tour plays and performances that explore who we are through different perspectives, privileges, and lived experiences. We challenge existing systems of oppression by telling stories that are as complicated and contradictory as the world we live in. 

Land Acknowledgement

Neworld is grateful to create our work on the unceded and traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.