Artist normalizes one-eye blindness through stand-up comedy

Wearing multiple hats is Stéphanie Morin-Robert’s specialty. She works as an interdisciplinary artist and arts administrator while performing stand-up comedy.

Wearing multiple hats is Stéphanie Morin-Robert’s specialty. She works as an interdisciplinary artist and arts administrator while performing stand-up comedy. 

The subject of that comedy? Her monocular vision or one-eye vision.  

Morin-Robert was only two years old when she got diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer. But, it wasn’t until she got into the second grade that she became self-conscious about her prosthetic glass eye. 

Retinoblastoma is the most common type of eye cancer in children under the age of two years. It occurs when immature eye cells called retinoblasts begin to multiply excessively, according to Canadian Cancer Society. 

Although her background is in contemporary dance and choreography, she found the skillset useful for comedy writing too. For her, they are two sides of the same coin. 

“Writing choreography for me is very similar in process to writing comedy. I realized that I had the toolset I could use with any art form I wanted to work with,” says Morin-Robert. “It may feel like they are different but, you punctuate movements and when to stop. It’s the same with words.” 

Her performance, which is titled Blindside shape-shifted over the years. What started as prose is now an engaging comedy show. 

Stéphanie Morin-Robert uses her background in dance and choreography to help write stand-up comedy. Photo by Tristan Brand

At first, when she penned down her experiences, it sounded like poetry. In 2014, she performed a simpler version of the show in front of an audience in Montreal. 

A young, nervous Morin-Robert, making barely any eye contact with people. 

Since then, she has become more comfortable with her herself and her story. 

“I was able to make light of these heavy subjects like disability and cancer,” she says. “I was able to find the comedy within it. When I first started doing it, it wasn’t funny at all.” 

Just like that, stand-up comedy snuck up on her, she says. 

Positive feedback from the audience got her excited to continue improving this new art form. However, she also continued for personal reasons. Through comedy, she found strength and acceptance. 

“I think the major part was it was helping me process it. It started from a personal place but it felt good to be sharing my stories. It was having a positive impact on people who were experiencing [the show],” she says. 

Performing at the ACT Arts Centre on April 3, Robert is now able to mould the show to cater to different audiences. From school children to adult audiences, she says that it’s important to share it with a diverse audience to create awareness. 

What started as therapy and a magical journey for her is now her work for a living.

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