Comedian Stephanie Foster brings a suicide prevention comedy tour to Pitt


Nate Yonamine | Staff Photographer

Comedian Stephanie Foster performs her comedy show “Without Rhyme Nor Reason” in the Alumni Hall auditorium on Tuesday.

By Shreya Singh, Staff Writer

When talking about voices in her head, comedian Stephanie Foster said one sounded similar to her high school gym coach, before transitioning into a conversation about losing her best friend to suicide. 

“There was a voice in my head that sounded like my high school gym coach telling me to get on the line and do suicides,” Foster said. 

About 100 students gathered in the auditorium of Alumni Hall on Tuesday night as Pitt Panhellenic hosted Stephanie Foster, a stand-up comedian, for her self-produced comedy tour “Without Rhyme Nor Reason.” Foster brought two accompanying comedians on tour — the tour’s producer, Jacqueline Denise, and Xazmin Garza, who was a finalist for HBO Max’s “Entre Nos” comedy special. 

The event kicked off with Denise and Garza performing a stand-up comedy routine, while Garza touched on menstrual cycles and abortions. Afterward, Foster came up on stage for the main bit, discussing the topic of sex, approaching it in a humorous light before transitioning to heavier topics like mental health. She touched upon her experience of relapsing back into alcohol addiction and dealing with depression and anxiety. 

Foster’s comedy tour started in the spring and she stopped by sorority houses at the University of Florida and the University of Georgia, as well as her alma mater Texas Tech University. The two sponsors for the tour are multi-million dollar makeup brand Maybelline, as well as The Society of Valued Minds — a community designed to embrace living with mental health conditions.

Foster said she began a career in comedy five years ago after losing her best friend and sorority sister to suicide. She created “Without Rhyme Nor Reason” to make the topic of mental health more approachable. 

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst college students, yet everyone is still whispering the word, ‘suicide,’” Foster said. “I want to make the topic less taboo and easier to talk about because I truly believe the easier it is to tell people about the thoughts in between your ears, the less suicides we’ll experience.”

Foster said she’s grateful to The Society of Valued Minds for helping make the second leg of the tour possible.

“We connected on Instagram,” Foster said. “Society of Valued Minds has been a supporter of ‘Without Rhyme Nor Reason’ since the tour originally kicked off in the spring of 2022. They are sponsoring 10 stops on the fall tour this leg, and the University of Pittsburgh is one of them.”

Denise said she’s glad that Foster created the tour because the message behind it is important for people to address. 

“I love the mission of the tour — bringing awareness to mental health in an approachable way that’s fun and inspiring,” Denise said. “I struggled with mental health in college myself and wish there were resources like this back then.”

Foster said putting the tour together came with its ups and downs, logistically speaking.

“It was a nightmare to be honest,” Foster said. “Turning any idea in your head into an actual moving breathing thing is always harder than you think it will be, but the biggest challenge was explaining what a suicide prevention comedy tour even is and that it’s okay to put the words comedy and suicide in the same sentence.”

Denise said she hopes the tour inspires those attending it and that they leave with a sense of motivation.

“I want the tour to leave women feeling inspired and uplifted,” Denise said. “I want them to know that the struggles we all face daily are real but they don’t have to define who we are, and the mistakes or failures that we think make us small or weak, are actually our greatest strengths and that we’re not alone.”

Rylie Sano, the vice president of programming for Pitt Panhellenic, said she was happy to host Foster at Pitt because she’s passionate about raising awareness on mental health. 

“Providing education and resources regarding mental health was something I cared a lot about taking this position on Panhel, and a lot of Stephanie’s values aligned with my vision for a program,” Sano said. “She was incredibly genuine about her reasons for creating this tour, and after hearing about how much passion she had for helping sorority girls with their mental health after the loss of her own close friend, I knew she was someone I would want to bring to campus.”

Sano also said she was excited for the comedic quality of the event to balance out the heavier topics at hand.

“I was extremely excited for the comedy portion of the event,” Sano said. “I know everyone like me is super stressed with midterms and I was hoping that this would be a good balance of providing some comedic relief from exams and papers to also holding important conversations about mental health.” 

Foster said she’s glad that she’s able to tour and raise awareness on the topic of mental health, but that the pain of losing her best friend remains.

“I feel so incredibly lucky, and also very tired,” Foster said. “What this tour has become is something I’ll always be proud of, but it still stings to think about why I created it in the first place. I lost my best friend a little over two years ago, so that pain still feels brand new. But being able to put that pain and the energy behind it into something positive is a remedy I haven’t found a match to yet.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Foster discussed menstrual cycles and abortion during her comedy routine. Garza was the one to discuss these topics. The Pitt News regrets this error.