Why I Make Jokes About Having Crohn's
Comedian Siânny Thomas on why she wants to 'break down the taboo of talking about the toilet' to raise awareness about invisible illnesses.
23 May 2020
I've spent well over a decade with Crohn's disease. Three of those years I have spent performing stand-up comedy. Crohn's disease means my immune system woke up one day and with bleary eyes and a tired head, attacked my small bowel. I am beginning to wish I bought shares in Imodium from the get-go.
Crohn's flares can be triggered by particular foods, being run down, stress and nerves. So, as you can imagine, it's a perfect accompaniment to being a stand-up comedian! I have been on stage minutes after having an appalling time in the venue toilets. Thankfully though, I haven't 'gone' on stage. This was early on and I'm now used to the adrenaline and nerves, so please do not let that put you off inviting me to perform.
I can't help joking about it. All my life I have made light of hardships.
Talking about having an illness like Crohn's is so important to make people aware of invisible illnesses. It's not well known that most disabilities are invisible and Crohn's is one of them. Unless of course you've just told me bad news, then you're about to be quite aware of my digestive issues. I can't help joking about it. All my life I have made light of hardships.
Making jokes on stage about having Crohn's breaks down the taboo of talking about the toilet. I have had people thank me for it afterwards. Whether they have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's, colitis or just had food poisoning once.
At one gig, a man was frowning at me through the entire thing and I thought, oops he's not enjoying himself, but afterwards, he said he really enjoyed my Crohn's material. He then asked if I pass solids, so I made my excuses and left. I do have limits!
I will continue talking about Crohn's and other taboo subjects for as long as my plonker of an immune system lets me.
A comedy set about my Crohn's was shared to the point that Crohn's and Colitis UK asked me to be one of their ambassadors. I had so many messages about how fellow 'Crohnies' loved that I could make fun of the awful thing that affects so many of us.
I'm lucky that I have had my immune system suppressed by medication for the last decade. It's stopped me from being hospitalised or operated on and has allowed me to work and perform comedy and I'm fortunate for that. I will continue talking about Crohn's and other taboo subjects for as long as my plonker of an immune system lets me.