Who Dis?

4. Nikk Tetreault - "Strap In"

January 31, 2020 Liz Komos, Nikk Tetreault
4. Nikk Tetreault - "Strap In"
Who Dis?
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Who Dis?
4. Nikk Tetreault - "Strap In"
Jan 31, 2020
Liz Komos, Nikk Tetreault

The Who Dis? Podcast is a show featuring performers from the disability, chronic illness, and mental health communities.

This week, we welcome Nikk Tetreault to the show. Nikk hails from Boston but currently lives in Chicago doing stand-up, improv, and sketch shows. She has obsessive-compulsive disorder. We discuss her personal journey with OCD, how it affects her art, and her personal comedic journey in general.

You can follow Nikk on Instagram at @nikk_is_dead.

For more information on Obsession Compulsive Disorder, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness at https://www.nami.org/

This episode was hosted by Liz Komos and produced by Jack Mathews. You can find more information on the Who Dis? Podcast or the Who Dis? Live Show at www.whodisshow.com on the web, on Instagram or Facebook at @WhoDisShow, or on Twitter at @TheWhoDisShow. If you want to talk about the show, feel free to use the hashtag #WhoDis.

This episode was recorded at the iO Theatre. The iO Theatre is home to Chicago’s best improv comedy with shows 7 nights a week. They offer classes in improv, writing, and more! Visit ioimprov.com for a full schedule. 

Show Notes Transcript

The Who Dis? Podcast is a show featuring performers from the disability, chronic illness, and mental health communities.

This week, we welcome Nikk Tetreault to the show. Nikk hails from Boston but currently lives in Chicago doing stand-up, improv, and sketch shows. She has obsessive-compulsive disorder. We discuss her personal journey with OCD, how it affects her art, and her personal comedic journey in general.

You can follow Nikk on Instagram at @nikk_is_dead.

For more information on Obsession Compulsive Disorder, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness at https://www.nami.org/

This episode was hosted by Liz Komos and produced by Jack Mathews. You can find more information on the Who Dis? Podcast or the Who Dis? Live Show at www.whodisshow.com on the web, on Instagram or Facebook at @WhoDisShow, or on Twitter at @TheWhoDisShow. If you want to talk about the show, feel free to use the hashtag #WhoDis.

This episode was recorded at the iO Theatre. The iO Theatre is home to Chicago’s best improv comedy with shows 7 nights a week. They offer classes in improv, writing, and more! Visit ioimprov.com for a full schedule. 

Liz :   0:06
Welcome to the Who Dis? Show podcast. I'm Liz Komos. This show features conversations with performers from the mental health, chronic illness and disability communities - we're digging into who they are and how their health intersects with their art. Today's guest on the podcast is Nikk Tetreault (Tay-tro). 

Liz :   0:22
Nikk is a Chicago based comedian doing improv sketch and clown around town. Nikk likes pineapple on her pizza and recently tried it in calzone form. Nikk, thanks so much for being here, especially after being so adventurous.  

Nikk Tetreault:   0:37
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy.

Liz :   0:40
Good, I am so glad. On the Who Dis? Podcast, we explore the intersection of art and health, and before we get too deep into talking about how you are as an artist, if you can, tell us a little bit about how you relate to the health community, be it a chronic illness, mental health condition or disability.

Nikk Tetreault:   0:59
Um, I have, ah, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and I'd say that's probably my way in to the community. Um, I was once looking at a list of disabilities, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was on there, so I was like, "Oh, that's what this is." Does that answer it?

Liz :   1:19
Yeah, tell if you can in your own words. Like what ... for our listeners. (pause to reframe).

Liz :   1:23
So what's cool about this podcast, at least I hope is that we're gonna have listeners from the disability community. But also just, you know, the abled community, people that don't totally know. If you can tell us a little bit about what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is and how it affects you in your own day to day life.

Nikk Tetreault:   1:40
Okay, Um so, at least for me, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, um, it's... in my experience it has kind of changed and morphed as I've aged. So when I was little, it was like I would let me know. Is this... (pause) is this a place where we can get a little dark?  

Liz :   1:56
Oh, yeah, we're getting Let's get dark. Let's turn the lights out. 

Nikk Tetreault:   2:03
You're so fun.

Nikk Tetreault:   2:03
I would have these. What are called intrusive thoughts to like do things to hurt myself, and then my compulsions would be hurting myself. But it was being like, weird ways. It be like, Oh, um, push this pressure point and count to three. And and it would need to be like one, three, or seven. Um, amount. It always need be an odd number because odd numbers were evil and even numbers were good. And then, as I've gotten older, so like, I'll go through periods where it's like, Yikes, what's happening to my brain and then there are periods where it's like, "Oh, just a regular person living my life And occasionally I have a thought." But then I'm like, "Oh, whatever." But then, as I got older, it started turning in to like me catastrophizing and, like my intrusive thoughts, were catastrophizing of like, Oh, I'm an awful person because of X, Y or Z or like a lot of what ifs, Um and then just like really fixating on those and the compulsions became less physical. Then I found out the that you can have mental compulsions. That's sort of when you have to like, in my experience, you have to like, fully think through a thought. Or you have to imagine the outcomes of what would happen if something else happened, such as my experience with obsessive compulsive disorder. But there are all of these super fun genres of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. So last summer I was experiencing relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But then there's also like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder where you're worried about how you are morally or... (pause) Um..  there are other ones. Worth a google search. 

Liz :   3:38
Yeah, yeah, Google it. I always like to mention NAMI the national. I think it's the National Association for Mental Illness has a lot of information. (it is actually the National Alliance of Mental Illness). So if people want to learn more, that's a great place to go and check it out. Um and yeah, thank you for sharing that. I think it's important for the listeners to know, like how we relate to these things so that when we get into the discussions about art there's a kind of an understanding of like who you are and why you're health interacts with your art and how it does. Yeah, after that, then is what kind of artist are you? I know I sort of said it in the intro, but what kind of artists are you? And how did you become interested in being a creative?

Nikk Tetreault:   4:23
Oooo! Um, I I see myself as a comedian. Mostly, um, I don't know. I feel like everybody's doing everything. I like doing everything too, so I like doing the improv, and sketch, and music, and clown, and stand up. Less stand up right now, but I'm also doing stand up tomorrow. But like, in general less, I guess. Why am I a creative? - you asked?

Liz :   4:52
Yeah. How did you become interested in yeah, creative arts?

Nikk Tetreault:   4:56
I feel like I just like making people laugh, and it feels really good. And it's what I want to do. And when I was in high school, somebody told me that, like you could go to school like you could go to comedy school and I was like, Oh, so it's not just like God has chosen a select few to be our comedians? 

Liz :   5:12
I thought's that our it worked too.

Nikk Tetreault:   5:15
Are you serious?  

Liz :   5:16
Yeah. I grew up in Chicago. I used to spend almost all of my birthday's going to Second City or like people knew that I liked it so they would bring me for their birthdays at Second City. And I never knew that you could take a comedy class, and I'm sure at the end of every show they went, "We have a training center. And if you would like to do this, check out our training center." I had no clue whatsoever that you could go to school to become a comedian.

Nikk Tetreault:   5:43
That's actually how I found out was at the end of a comedy show. One time they were like, Oh, actually, no. Well, sort of. They were like. Check out, check out our website. But then it was more there was, like, this one person in the show I thought was so funny. So I'm like, Oh, let me see if I can, like, find them, find out who this person is. And then on the website, there was also the whole take a class section. Yeah. And then I was like, What's happening? Yeah. And then when I took the class, this was in Boston...

Liz :   6:12
I was going to say, when was that?

Nikk Tetreault:   6:14
That was in, like, 2011 or 2012. Um, And then when I started taking classes there, I ran into, like, this one dude who was talking about these classes in Chicago and like, how all these famous people came out of Chicago. And so then I was like, Wait, there's an even bigger comedy school. Yeah, started going down that path and then... 

Liz :   6:34
Well, you're young. How old were you in 2011?

Nikk Tetreault:   6:36
Um, thing. It was like I couldn't take comedy classes at improv Boston until I was 17.

Liz :   6:43
Okay. So you found it before then?

Nikk Tetreault:   6:45
I think I found it when I was, like, 16, almost 17. So I found it like right at the right time.  

Liz :   6:50
Yeah, well, Jack and I are old, so there's a bit of jealousy. Sorry, Jack. I just I just called Jack out for being old.  

Jack:   6:58
Oh, a bus just went by and you threw me under it.

Liz :   6:58
I just mean, I think that's so cool that you found it so young. I didn't start comedy until I was 31.  

Nikk Tetreault:   7:10
You're so good at it though.  

Liz :   7:12
Get out of town. How old were you, Jack? Only normally. I don't talk to Jack during the podcast, but...

Jack:   7:18
Yeah, normally she says, "Don't Talk." Uh, I'm 42

Liz :   7:21
Okay. And when did you take your first class?

Jack:   7:23
Uh, two years ago. When I moved here. I think my mother in law saw something and Tribune. That's what got me interested in the classes here. Yeah, it's the same thing. You never know, right?

Liz :   7:31
We were actually just talking about people that are younger in the scene, and so I'm very excited for you, and I think it's cool that you were able to get into it at such a young age. And I think that one of the things that I see people doing here in Chicago is doing what you're doing they're trying solo work. They're trying sketch, they're trying stand-up, they're trying writing. They're, you know, they're doing all of the different aspects to find what kind of artist they are. Like, what sort of comedian is Nikk? I'm excited for you on that journey.

Nikk Tetreault:   8:02
I am excited for you, I mean, you're running the podcast, You know what I mean?  

Liz :   8:05
Sh..., you know, it's not about me.  

Nikk Tetreault:   8:08
Oh, it's so about you. Ah! Sorry, I'll stop. This is you, you run it. You run it how you want,  

Liz :   8:13
We'll do a, Jack has said that we're going to do an episode that's all about me at some point.

Jack:   8:20
She's not looking forward to it.

Liz :   8:21
I was joking that I should have the guests come in and sit in all of thes red chairs down here in this basement, and you can all ask me questions. A group style. My next question is like where do you see your career going? Like what kind of comedy career do you wanna have? Where do you see yourself in a few years? What are you working on next? Like what's coming up for you?

Nikk Tetreault:   8:44
Oh, I don't know. Who is gonna say the dreams. I guess the end goal is to be working in television, like what Mindy Kaling does that she's kind of just running everything. But she's also starring in everything that she is making a lot of cool stuff. So I'd eventually like to be like like her. Right now, I'm working on creating more solo stuff so that I can put it out at some larger venues and ideally, have gained more people's attention. Yeah, like I was on your show doing the solo sketch. And, um, that's ideally for something to lead somewhere. I actually I just booked that in Boston. You did? I'm excited to be.  

Liz :   9:29

Nikk Tetreault:   9:29
Oh, thanks. It was just sending an e mail and they were like, Yeah, you can do that.  

Liz :   9:34
Bring it. Put it up. So you're saying that you booked a show in Boston to do some of your solo sketch work? Yeah. Yeah, that's awesome. What I'm curious about now is because you're doing so many different mediums of performance:  How does having O.C.D. interact with each of those different mediums? Is it different when you're performing improv and ensemble work, and different than when you're doing stand up. And even so when you're doing sketch - cause each of those kind of have a different process about them in the way that we prepare and get ready. Yeah, what's the impact?

Nikk Tetreault:   10:08
So it's sketch. I am nervous about being a thief.  

Liz :   10:12
So about stealing material from someone?

Nikk Tetreault:   10:15
Yes, in a way that I think is a little bit intense because normally people who, who I don't want to say that all neurotypical people are able to like do this, but there are many people who have a different brain than me who are able this, sit with somebody and, like, have each other punch up each other's ideas. And at the end of the day, they're able to still say like, Oh, this is still my sketch. Thank you for your help. This is still my sketch, and I'm gonna use it for this show that you might not even be involved in. Yeah, um, but one time I was working on, I'd written a play and the play was like a bunch of little vignettes, I guess, kind of like sketch and the person who was directing it was like what if we used ah rubber like a little rubber horn or whatever, and then I was, like, really fixated on it. I was like, if I used the rubber horn, This is not truly my work. Um, I must think of something that is just as funny as a rubber horn, but is not a rubber homered that at the end of the day, when I die, this is 100% my work. And I think that a lot of people just take the rubber horn and would've had a really chill evening.

Liz :   11:33
I know. I get what you mean, though, that you're that you're worried about other people collaborating with you in terms of like assisting you and then feeling like they need credit somehow or that it isn't yours or that someday down the road, someone's gonna be like, you know, that rubber horn was mine. 

Nikk Tetreault:   11:54
Yep. And then it will be like, how much did she really write of this play? She's a thief. And she's been stealing jokes for years. 

Liz :   12:03
I mean, I think that the authenticity it is... it is, a big thing. But I I also think that I don't think anyone in this work truly, ever does it alone. You know, I think that it's impossible, because even if you're doing stand up right, you go up, you put you put your act up and the audience gives you feedback, and then you go back and you rewrite it, and then you take so they're giving you feedback by way of laughs or not laugh... so they're participating in the process a little bit. Right? Okay, maybe I'm just connecting dots that don't need to be connected. But yeah, I don't think we can ever really create comedy alone because we're so reliant on the response. 

Nikk Tetreault:   12:47
Yeah. And the art doesn't happen in a vacuum. No, it is like the whole thing. Yeah. And there was this one person. His name's Tim Averill, who got this sentence from I think somebody else. But it could have been his -  who knows - something about how, like ART is just the constant stealing and remaking of everything that's already existing. And I'm like, but but I don't want to be a thief. 

Jack:   13:15
Does that make it hard for you to, like collaborate just with another person, even as an equal if you're gonna be writing something?

Nikk Tetreault:   13:21
As in equal like if WE are saying this is OUR project that we're building together, it makes it a lot easier. But then they're also sometimes where, like all, have an idea for something. And I'll be like, Do I wanna put the idea in this space? But no, I want to use it for something else later...? And if then if I get that feedback on it, can I use it in the other place? What happens to all of the dead sketches that we bring through? Our classes are different ensembles that didn't get used.  

Liz :   13:50
I've been thinking about that with Second City right now because I'm in their Conservatory Program, and I came up with this song that I want to use, and it's very disability related, so it's like material very close to my heart. But I can't decide if I want to use it in that class. Like I think it's good and I think would be a great piece to put up for our grad show. But do I own it then? Do I get to use that piece when I do my solo work? It's mine. I created it and it's, it's a grad show, like those are questions that I have sometimes. And I think it is hard to go. OK, is this the right? Is this the right avenue for this piece of material? And do you give it over to somebody when you put it up in the four walls of their theater? 

Nikk Tetreault:   14:37
I heard I talked to one of my teachers and she was saying that, um her rule of thumb is sort of if she uses it in a show, she leaves it in that show unless, like, she needs a solo piece for an audition. Yeah, but I know that I've put on shows where, like, I e-mailed people who were involved with the show. And I'm like, Hey, is it cool? If I used these pieces from this show in my own show and they were like nobody, this is your piece. Just take your piece. Yeah, but it's so funny that you say that about the song because I wrote a song about and I feel like this is called technically a disability, but like it doesn't show up on like those work forms when you're checking it off.

Nikk Tetreault:   15:16
Yea, yeah.. which is how we all define (long laugh pause as Liz thinks to herself that only the disabilities listed on those forms are the "only disabilities, ever).  

Liz :   15:25
(snort) Oh God. I try not to snort a lot, but that one really got me. Like, if that list was like the only list, there's so many. Okay, I love a good disability joke.  

Nikk Tetreault:   15:35
No, no, that's great. I wrote a song about having vaginismus. I'm not sure if you're familiar with it.

Jack:   15:43
I am not.

Nikk Tetreault:   15:43
You're not?  

Liz :   15:45
Yeah, maybe some of our listeners don't know.

Nikk Tetreault:   15:45
All right. Strap-In Jack.  

Liz :   15:47
Here we go.

Nikk Tetreault:   15:49
Vaginismus is a condition where people have it to varying degrees. But basically, if anything tries to get close to the entrance of the vagina the um, I think they're called the pubococcygeal muscles or the PC muscles and whether they tighten up so that your vagina becomes a wall and you can't be entered. So I wrote a song about having Vaginismus, and I brought it to my music conservatory. And I wound up deciding to not continue bringing it in because I was like, I think I want to say this for like, a solo thing, huh? Yeah, it's only that you said that you have Ah, piece.

Nikk Tetreault:   16:26
Yeah, Well, it's like and I imagine it with this group like I can close my eyes and I can see them doing this song with me, and I think it would be good, but I'm also like, Gosh, it's so it's so genuinely a part of my life and experience that it's hard for me to give it over to that group of people and think I could never perform it again.  

Nikk Tetreault:   16:48
You know, I think you could always do... Oh, sorry to cut you off. . Could you check in with your ensemble?

Liz :   16:53
Yeah. And ask them.

Nikk Tetreault:   16:54
Yeah, get their thoughts on it.

Liz :   16:56
Yeah, Let them know.

Nikk Tetreault:   16:57
I think it's when you get and I could be wrong. I don't want to spread Chicago Misinformation on this podcast. Okay, so if anybody thinks that I'm wrong please at me on instagram at

Liz :   17:13
Nikk underscore is underscored dead

Nikk Tetreault:   17:16
Yes. Thank you so much. Believe me. On instagram if I'm wrong, Um, I think it's, um if you get hired by Second City on one of their main stages, anything you write, they have paid you for your writing. And then that is your writing is owned by Second City. Once you do those pieces and a lot of those pieces that go up do feel like those personal kind of pieces that like only this person could sing this or only somebody who is like in a similar vessel to this person could sing this is. It is interesting. The ones are and then doesn't Michael Jackson or, Well, I guess he doesn't anymore because he is dead, but doesn't he like, didn't he own the Beatles songs?

Liz :   17:58
I don't know.  Yeah. I understand. If you're getting paid, like if you're on main stage and you're getting paid to write and create a show that that that is the problem, you are being paid for the work, right? I think for me it's some of the smaller shows. Or like a student show or situations like that. Yeah, where it's not something I quite understand yet about how comedy and artistic pursuits kind of work in that way. What is my intellectual property?

Nikk Tetreault:   18:32
Sometimes what helps me is thinking about how, when I'm dead, it probably won't matter. Sure. Um and sometimes I kind of wish you could just, like, flash forward. Like like maybe five years. And it's like, all I use that song a second time... Has my career been slandered?

Liz :   18:47
Yeah, well and then now you just said the word dead... And I was like: what if I die and I never put this song up? You know what I mean? Like, what if I'm always waiting for a different venue or a different avenue? And I'm not putting the stuff that feels important and good to me now because I'm waiting for the right space on. Then I die and nobody ever hears it, except in the voice notes on my phone after I'm dead.

Liz :   19:15
Do you think anyone will go through those? I wonder that... that's something I wonder? I mean, I think that's something, part of my condition where I'll be like.... Oh, you gotta delete that one.

Nikk Tetreault:   19:24
I recently wrote my last will and testament somebody, one of my co workers was like, you got to be on top of it. And when I told my mom, she's like, I don't have my last will and testament, but in mine, my significant other has my okay to go through my phone and clean it up before anybody else sees it.

Liz :   19:43
I just have a pact with people to be like, ya know, just take what you want to come and take what you want. Fight over it. I don't know... there's nothing that good.  

Liz :   19:55
What are some of the challenges that you found being a performer with O. C. D. In the community here in Chicago and what are some solutions?

Nikk Tetreault:   20:05
So I came to Chicago, and before I came to Chicago, I had a one woman show in the crux of my one woman show was a joke that I found out that somebody has an entire podcast for. But if I look at the timestamps, my jokes started before their podcast. But as the same time I need to drop it, it makes me so sad. That was probably my biggest chance. That was one of the things was I was like, Wait, I'm supposed to do a set tomorrow, and I just found out the day before that this joke already exists, but the person who has it is much more high profile than me. And then can I do this set tomorrow? Or am I gonna look like like a thief? And I know I didn't thief it. Yeah, and it is this joke that is so integral to like who I am that I'm like: there's no way if my life goes the way I want it to go, which we never know if it will, there's no way to like erase joke from my life. It's like a part of my life, you know what I mean?

Liz :   21:07
Interesting. Yeah. After we're done recording, I want to hear the joke because you can tell it in here with just me. 

Liz :   21:16
Uh, what are some of the highlights of your career? Like a moment I think of like when I like, unlocked a barrier. You know, there's a lot of barriers in this community of like producing putting up your first show, or putting up sketch show. Like, What's a moment where you're like, ahhhh - I just did that and that feels really good.

Jack:   21:34
Oh, probably the solo sketch that happened a couple of weeks ago was I had not been writing as much solo in like new material as I had hoped to when I came to Chicago, and then an opportunity came up where it was like, do your solo sketch make it and You just need to, like, have it all together by this date. And so doing that and I haven't memorized like that much solo material in a long time. So sitting in my room and reading through all of it and doing all the revisions and writing all of it and then putting it up twice. It was like, Oh, I did it. I did it. I did it.

Liz :   22:13
That's cool. That's really awesome. I think that those are the moments that are so fulfilling. Being here and doing all this stuff is seeing like what's next for me? What's the next achievement I can unlock If it's like a video game, you know, the next thing I can do for myself to further my career, What do you think it takes to make a great comedian stand up or sketch performer?

Jack:   22:39
I need to take this advice for myself, but like just making the time to always be writing,

Liz :   22:44

Nikk Tetreault:   22:44
Um, but also, like, nobody can do everything. Always. I think that that goes kind of back to like the whole disabilities conversation. Is that like there is, if somebody was talking about this at the talkback for Who Dis? -  was this expectation that you always need to be out in doing everything. Um, at the same time, I think that people need enough time to recharge, but them balancing the recharging with continuing to write. I took a hiatus from writing for a while, and I think that I need to make sure they still hold my self to some sort of standard.  

Liz :   23:16
It's the craft, right? It's like finding the way to work the craft that works for you. And that is spending time writing. It's going to see shows. I think that that's something I try to do is pencil in time to go see other people's work. Yeah, then to perform in shows whether that be improv or whatever else. And then also trying new things like I did my first storytelling event recently and that was great. And then now sketch stuff and trying to figure out like: How do I do this? What's that next step for me? But yeah, I think it's balancing your craft.  

Liz :   23:49
What is your relationship as a comedian to failure? I think comedy is all about trying, failing, timing, trying again. How have you worked through that part of being a stand up.

Nikk Tetreault:   24:03
What's helped me in relation to failure is that I don't think anybody is gonna hear this and be like, Oh, I know this lady and I've seen her with 100 down. But if you in my experience, if you go to an open mic there's so many people who are so confident and so terrible at what they do. I'm like: Oh, I know I'm better than that. So I can even if I'm bad at the end of the day, when I go home, I'm like, I just had a bad day. It was just a bad day or like that specific joke didn't work. But I don't take it is like this stand up thing is the end of my career. This was the really bad one I had. I had a really bad stand up set on a really important show one time. And it was a bummer, but also everybody has bummers. 

Liz :   25:00
How do you choose to incorporate your health and your experience with health in your art? And is it something that you actively choose to do or does it just show up like when you're sitting down and writing,

Nikk Tetreault:   25:13
Um, I have had a couple couple of different experiences with it. So the show that I mentioned that was an important show that went really bad. That was one of the times where I tried to incorporate my health. And so I was talking about having vaginismus and, it was so so bad, Liz. Because I was just like, "So would any of you like to gradually help me insert dilators into my vagina? Anybody in the audience by show of hands?" And the audience was kind of just like You can't you can't see what I'm doing, but I'm kind of like looking very uh tight-bodied and uncomfortable. And so, yeah, trying to figure out more positive ways to include that.

Liz :   26:02
How do you do that without clearly making the audience uncomfortable? Is that the only time you've ever tried that piece or have you tried it elsewhere and gotten the same like a It's about like testing, right? Did you test that out again and see if... 

Nikk Tetreault:   26:17
It's worked in different forms. So asking the audience to help me with my sexual health it was a no go.

Liz :   26:26
I don't know why! I would laugh so hard.

Liz :   26:29
Thank you so much. Um... So yeah. I did not a full power point presentation. But I did have some slides up behind me one time, and I brought my dilators on stage. And, um, there were definitely some uncomfortable people, but there were also people laughing, so I that was more positive. And then I've tried making a rap about it. The rap was well received, but that was the thing that I'm pocketing, to work on later. 

Liz :   27:00
Yeah, I think that uh, it's bold. You know what I mean? Like, I think it's bold to talk about that and to literally bring your dilators on stage. Like I think people don't often see - I don't even want to just limit it to like women - but I don't think they see people taking risks like that all the time. Like people go out there and they do safe stuff. That's an unsafe thing to do.

Liz :   27:29
I love it. I relate to it. So I had a really early stage cervical cancer, and I had a hysterectomy and I spent a lot of time on these boards, talking to other women who've had hysterectomies and like what's going on? And so I also have no cervix and no uterus. But I still have my ovaries and my fallopian tubes. And some people have to use these dilators after surgery just because things happen to the body. So for me that would hit. Like I think if you took that material to a gynecological conference, ya know, sometimes it is about finding your audience. I don't know. But like, I think that's so funny because it's true. Like it's something that's a real and that you have to, like, work through sometimes.

Nikk Tetreault:   28:16
There are a lot of gynecologist who don't know what it is, though, which is so frustrating.

Liz :   28:22
That's a health thing. I don't think we've talked with any of the guests yet about that part of it. Like when you have to educate your physician about what you your health condition is, is always the most frustrating moment where you're like you're a doctor. I shouldn't have to tell you this.

Liz :   28:39
And what about your mental health? How do you choose to incorporate your mental health into your set?

Nikk Tetreault:   28:44
So, this is something that I've I've been struggling to figure out how to incorporate it sometimes, because there are some themes within Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that people will deal with that to somebody who doesn't understand Obsessive Compulsive Disorder will sound like the person with O.C.D. is a terrible person. So a theme that some folks have struggled with is like this fear of committing, like terrible or violent or harmful crimes. And it's just this one of the compulsions for it is avoidance is trying to take yourself out of any situation where you could possibly commit this crime that you're afraid that you're going to commit. And at least in my O.C.D. mindfulness workbook, it's said that people with O.C.D. are the least likely to actually commit these crimes because of all the like steps that all the precautions they're taking to not commit them. But it's the intrusive thought, the idea that like, oh, what if I just stabbed my mom right now... I'm holding a butter knife. What if I just stabbed my mom? Um, and how how could I make a joke of like, Oh, I had this? It's a horrible intrusive thought that I was gonna do something terrible and so I worried that I might be a terrible person. But in a way that somebody in the audience isn't like way. Is she gonna stab us all right now?

Liz :   30:18
Well, I think I think that's a really interesting topic. And, like, it can be heavy. But I think there is light to that because I think in humanity, we've all had worries. Like I think that there is something relatable and that that we've all had fears of, like, Oh, what if I do? X y z? I've definitely had the thought before. Like what if I just drove my car into Lake Michigan? Yeah, really? I think that there's something relatable about, like the what if aspect of that, Um and then also finding a way, like, I think what people connect is how then you how then you deal with it, The lead up to where the the after, like what is that process? What is the human process like for you and what's kind of humorous about that, you know, after the fact after you've realized that you've not committed the butter knife incident. I don't know, but I appreciate you sharing it, cause I think that just like anything else, the more we talk about these things, the more we de stigmatize them. And what you've done here now is educate people about a very like, real aspect of the condition that you have, but also shown that, like, you're thinking about it and you're knowledgeable about it. And yeah, you're taking care of yourself.  

Nikk Tetreault:   31:37
Thank you.

Liz :   31:38
Thank you. Do you um, so I was talking with another guest about their chart, their like medical record. Do you ever find that people treat you differently once they find out that you have O. C. D. Albeit in the community or even physicians?

Nikk Tetreault:   31:54
With the O. C. D. My doctor wouldn't put it in my chart because I don't have a formal diagnosis from like, uh, I think a psychiatrist. Yeah, it's just been like multiple therapists being like: Oh, this is O.C.D.. And then also, like, I know that I am not a doctor and like the the Internet is a dangerous thing. But it just I have, like, textbook.  And so that for that reason, my doctor won't put it in my chart. So it's something that I like need to tell people when I'm going into things and, um, what was the other part of the question? 

Liz :   32:29
Does it ever affect you in the community? Are there other people around you in in the community that know that you have O.C.D., and do they treat you differently?

Nikk Tetreault:   32:38
I don't know if I've always meant it. I don't know if I get treated differently, but I do know that when I talk about my O. C D. I usually have somebody who, interestingly enough, is like also in the arts community message me privately to be like I also have O.C.D., or like this is what I struggle with. And it's really cool to be like, Oh, so there are like other comedians that are dealing with similar thanks to me right now! 

Liz :   33:04
That's what I think one one of the goals of the show, the live show but also this podcast, is to create connection between performers that have similar experiences, even dissimilar experiences, but just under the umbrella of like health and illness, because I think the more that we talk about these things, the more bonds and bridges and connections we can make so that people don't feel quite as alone. Thinking that they're the only one who's struggling with with a mental health condition or with a physical disability or an illness. Because it's just hard. It's hard. It could be really isolating sometimes. And so, yeah, I appreciate you sharing. And I saw that you did post something publicly recently on Facebook for Mental Health Awareness Month. And I just think that that's so cool. And I think that it's something that we should all be talking about more. And not just like one month. It's like, Hey, here's the Mental Health Awareness Month. I just I'm glad that you did it. And I'm glad that someone reached out to you because that's the point, right? Yeah. Yeah. At least that's my point. That's my goal. Yeah. To create connection. Cool.  

Liz :   34:07
How do you feel about the concept of people performing as an inspiration that, like you getting up there and I don't know? Well, getting up there and bringing your dilators on stage or really anything in someone being like, "Wow, you're so bold." Has that ever happened to you?

Nikk Tetreault:   34:25
I don't think that that's happened to me.  

Liz :   34:27
Good. You're lucky!

Nikk Tetreault:   34:29
No! There are like so many awful things that happen to people that don't happen to me, for whatever reason, I'm just like lucky.  

Liz :   34:36
I love that. What are some of the good experiences you've had post shows? Like, what's the normal reception for you after you come off a show reception? 

Nikk Tetreault:   34:45
Good job. Good job.  

Liz :   34:49
Just a solid good job? Are you kidding me? I was like, If you haven't seen Nikk perform, then you have to go see Nikk perform sometime. Any time I see you, you are captivating, and you're interesting, and you're you. It is very much like your authentic, But you're so funny and you're still smart and seeing your sketch work. I didn't realize what a good actor you are. You know, like I've seen you improv acting. But seeing you really put on those characters, it was I was blown away by you. And so I was assuming that's what you would say that people are just like, Oh my gosh, not just good job,

Nikk Tetreault:   35:23
I get. I guess sometimes people are complimentary like you. I guess one time I did stand up  and this person came up to me and they were like, really enjoyed seeing you up there. You did so great.    

Liz :   35:39
What do you feel? You're touching... Nikk just put her fingers on her cheeks and like pulled her eye lids down. How do you handle that?

Nikk Tetreault:   35:48
Um, I handle it good in my own vessel, but I do feel a bit douchey being on podcast all like, So you should hear about the compliments I get. You should hear them. (sarcastic tone)

Liz :   36:03
NO! I  just I also think it's important for us like it's important for us to work hard, But I think it's also important for us to recognize and say like what we do well. I don't think people do that a lot because I think it does come off is like conceited in a way. But I think for this community, specifically, it's important for people to be out there and owning their space. But with strength and being like, I am good at this, I deserve to be here like everybody look around, you know, um, at least for me, because I spent a lot of time not trying to take up space or being like Oh, no, Stop. But, you know, instead of just being like yeah, yeah, There was a good show. Thanks. I had fun.  

Nikk Tetreault:   36:51
Um, no, it's a good philosophy.  

Liz :   36:55
Yeah, I think so. I think we shy away from compliments. More than than people need to.  

Liz :   37:02
What do you suggest for comedians similar to you? Maybe even someone since you moved here to pursue comedy. What advice do you have for someone just starting out? 

Nikk Tetreault:   37:14
Um, have a Facebook account.  

Liz :   37:17
Okay (laughs) Why?  

Nikk Tetreault:   37:17
Because I find so many opportunities on Facebook. Not a ton. So I'm a part of, like, eight comedy Facebook pages. And almost every day, I'll go through and check for the updates and like, probably, like a few times a month, they're people just like taking submissions to these different shows. And that's how I'm able to, like, get booked on various shows. And then it's also good for, like, advertising your shows and sometimes people post statuses being like, Hey, looking for another person to improv with. Or,  hey! looking for somebody for this sketch, or like auditions for this auditions for this. And when I meet people in the community who don't have a Facebook page, Which all the power to you? I'm like, How are you doing it? How are do, innit?  

Liz :   38:06
Yeah. No, I agree with that. I think having a Facebook page, however annoying, is necessary. I think there are so many opportunities posted about events and you get invited to shows and people use it. And so it just unfortunately, is like the beast that you have to make peace with you.   

Liz :   38:27
If you could take anyone artist out for dinner, who would it be? Where would you go to eat? And why? Why that person?  

Nikk Tetreault:   38:37
Can they be dead?  

Liz :   38:38
Ah, yeah, that's even cooler.

Nikk Tetreault:   38:40
Oh, no. There's so many.

Liz :   38:44
I know.

Nikk Tetreault:   38:44
Oh, yeah. Buster Keaton. Buster Keaton is the hottest man who ever lived. Uh, sometimes when I watch old movies of Buster Keaton and I am like, why did you die? SoI can't marry you? Um, raviolis. Love ravioli.  

Liz :   39:12
What? Spinach or cheese or both? Or pumpkin?

Nikk Tetreault:   39:17
You know, I had this really great acorn squash ravioli. I love acorn squash. Can't find it anywhere.

Liz :   39:26
Oh, no. Someone get this lady in acorn squash.  

Nikk Tetreault:   39:29
Thank you. Please, uh send it to my DM.  

Jack:   39:33
(Jack laughs hysterically in the background)

Liz :   39:33
Whoa, that's the biggest laugh Ever. I haven't even been keeping tally, but it was all worth it just for that. Thank you, Nick. Uh, let me know if you don't get an acorn squash and I'll bring you one.

Nikk Tetreault:   39:51
Thank you. You've giving me so much in this life you need to do nothing else for me.  

Liz :   39:56
Well, I loved having you here today. Thank you so much for being here. It was an honor. And I can't wait to see you later for the show that we're going to do together.  

Nikk Tetreault:   40:06
Also an honor. 

Liz :   40:09
Nikk Tetreault is, honestly one of my favorite comedians in the city. We talked today and got real intimate about Nikk's experience with mental health and Nikk's body. If you want to learn more about Nikk and what Nikk has going on and follow her on Instagram at Nikk, n i k k underscore is underscore dead. (@nikk_is_dead). Thank you so much for listening. We'll catch you next time.  

Liz :   40:34
The Who Dis? show is hosted by Liz Komos and produced by me, Jack Matthews. If you'd like to support the Who Dis? show you can tell a friend or leave a five star rating or review on apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. When using social media, feel free to use the hashtag #whodis for more information on the Who Dis? show, including upcoming live shows. We're on Facebook. Twitter @whodisshow, on Instagram at @WhoDisShow or on the Web at www.whodisshow.com. That's W H O D I S S H O W dot com.This episode was recorded at the iO Theater. The iO Theater is home to Chicago's best improv comedy with shows seven nights a week. They offer classes and improv writing and more. Visit iOimprov.com for a full schedule.