Yesterday the comedy group Stand Up for Mental Health was on campus. I went to see the show at Totem Park.
I had no idea what I was in for. I mean: I knew it was a comedy show. I knew it had something to do with mental illness. Other than that… no clue. Admittedly, I was a little confused. Were they going to be making fun of mental illness? Would the comics themselves be people with metal illnesses? Was it actually going to be funny?
According to the founder, David Granier, the premise for SMH is:
“We use comedy to give consumers a powerful voice and help reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental illness. The idea is that laughing at our setbacks raises us above them. It makes people go from despair to hope, and hope is crucial to anyone struggling with adversity. Studies prove that hopeful people are more resilient and also tend to live longer, healthier lives.”
It was certainly the funniest thing I’d seen in a long time. And the rest of the audience seemed to agree with me. There were a bunch of student there from Vanier and Totem, but also a fair amount of people from the community, and for most of the show people were pretty much falling off their chairs laughing.
The idea wasn’t so much to make fun of mental illness, but to make fun of some of the misconceptions and stereotypes that revolved around depression, schizophrenia etc. And also to make light of the various systems and routines that people with metal illness have to deal with, from health care to taking pills.
Needless to say, it was not a politically correct event. But it was illuminating. Some of the people I spoke with after wards were a bit put off by some of the race, religion and gender related humor, but everyone loved what the comics had said about mental illness. I guess we’ve never had the opportunity to think about mental illness in that way.
But why tell you about it, when you can see if for yourself.
10 year old Jonathan Granier (David’s son) talked about what living with a parent with mental illness is like. He stole the show. Check it out (Give it a minute, his first couple of jokes are a bit slow, but it gets better. The parts about mental health start at about 4 min.):
Also check out the website for more info and video clips.