Jul 10

Stand Up for Mental Health: Comedy As a Form of Therapy

Most people think you have to be nuts to do stand up comedy…Counselor and Stand Up Comic David Granirer offers it as a form of therapy! Stand Up for Mental Health website

Many artists of all types, including comedians, have talked about their creativity being their chosen form of therapy. A few years ago comedian Kevin Hart, for example, said the following to an interviewer with AMC Theatres about performing comedy:

This is my therapy. You know. I didn’t talk about my mom passing away. I never talked about my dad being on drugs. I didn’t talk about my relationship status, and me going through a divorce — these are all things I had just held in, and I was very very reserved about. And it got to a point where I was like, you know what? I’m a comedian! My fans will respect me more when I’m honest. The more honest I am with them, the more of an open book I am, the more they can relate to me and the more they can say, ‘Hey, you know what? Dude, I like this guy. I relate to this guy. He doesn’t care. Nothing’s held back.’ It’s funny but at the same time it’s real. And by me putting my real life out there, I think I got the best of me.

Counselor and humorist David Granirer actually created a program called Stand Up For Mental Health in which people with mental health issues can learn how to do stand-up comedy as a form of therapy. In the video below called “Cracking Up,” some participants introduce us to it.

You’ll need over six minutes to watch this—but it’s worth it.

If this whets your comedy appreciation appetite, clips of individual routines that have emerged from this program are available on their website.

Below Granirer himself riffs to an audience on the topic of mental health stigma:

Dec 02

“Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor”–A Documentary

A while ago, I posted about a program that uses stand-up comedy as a therapeutic tool for those with mental health issues (Stand Up For Mental Health). Turns out another program, Comedy Warriors, exists to aid soldiers who are injured physically and mentally.

Five veterans who were hurt in combat—four men and one woman—will be featured in an upcoming documentary about their experiences of learning stand-up comedy from some well-known Los Angeles comedians, including Bob Saget and Brad Garrett.

As stated on their website, “As any comedian will tell you, the most poignant comedy comes from pain. And no one knows this better than a service member with a life-changing injury.”

Update, August 2016: The documentary Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor was released in 2013. Here’s a video intro:

Michael Friedman, LMSW, Huffington Post: “All of these veterans might have slipped into despair, as many veterans do. Major depressive disorder, PTSD, substance abuse disorders, and suicide are unfortunately prevalent among veterans. Several of the comedians tell us that they still live with PTSD. Having a sense of humor, they all say, is what saves them.”

Jessica Zack, San Francisco Chronicle: “With its unflinching look at the wounds of war, and emphatic message that pain is a comedian’s best friend, ‘Comedy Warriors’ provides a message of hope for injured service members who have just begun their rehabilitative journey or for anyone who is suffering a trauma or setback.”