Sometimes Laughter is the Best Medicine
Written by James Lange
Mental health is no laughing matter, unless the performer is using comedy to fight a disorder. That’s why since 2004 David Granirer and the team at Stand Up Mental Health, have been working with sufferers of mental illness to use comedy as a tool for mental health. David doesn’t stop with just creating a routine. He works with local clubs and organizations to put on shows featuring the people that David and his team have worked with.
Students that sign up for the program come from all walks of life and disorders. Depression, Bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are just a few of the issues the students are working through. During the thirteen-week course, students are given personalized attention and guidance for creating their own show; an opportunity for students to find the humor in their lives. At the end of the thirteenth week, it’s time to perform in front of a live audience.
The shows that SMH (Stand Up for Mental Health) put on can be found all over North America and Australia. They range from closed to the public fundraisers, to open to the public events at some comedy clubs. All the shows feature students from the program.
While this isn’t meant as a replacement for professional treatment, it goes a long way to help move people along their treatment path. The students/performers end up getting to laugh at some of the issues they have been dealing with. The performances help to empower the students to move past some of their fears and phobias. In some cases, people have been able to do things they spent all their lives afraid to do.
However, as I write this I can’t help but think that some of the funniest people in the industry have some sort of mental disorder. 2 years ago, one of the most prolific comedians succumbed to his battle with depression; the late, great Robin Williams. While many of the funny men and women that makeup the industry have openly discussed their mental disorders, maybe David Granirer has a point; maybe for some professionals, working through their own problems means making other people forget theirs.