Comedy show in Kamloops brings awareness to mental health stigma

The Stand Up for Mental Health comedy show put a new perspective on people living with disabilities

David Granirer, founder of Stand Up for Mental Health hosted Kamloops’ first Stand Up for Mental Health comedy show in solidarity of smashing the stigma that surrounds mental illness and disabilities. All comedians recieved roaring rounds of applause at the end of the hilarious evening. (Brianna Schellenberg/The Omega)

Last Thursday, over a hundred people packed into The Rex for the Stand Up for Mental Health comedy show.

Held on World Mental Health Day, the event included six stand-up comedy acts from Kamloops who took their mental health issues and turned them into entertainment. They were taught by David Granirer, a counsellor, stand-up comedian and mental health keynote speaker from Vancouver, who started the Stand Up for Mental Health Program in 2004.

The night started with some words from Glenn Hilke, the founder of The Big Edition paper, thanking everyone who made this night possible. He welcomed David Granirer to the stage, who would be the MC for the event.

Granirer’s humour rocked the house as he talked about his own experiences with mental health. Whether it be trips to the psych ward, or dealing with doctors who prescribed him a random assortment of antidepressants, he had his fair share of stories to tell, leaving the audience gutted with laughter.

Each act that performed brought diverse jokes and stories to the stage. They put a twist on situations that would normally be told with caution, such as battling with paranoia, schizophrenia, and substance abuse, giving them a more casual perspective.

The event was about breaking down the stigma around these health issues by showing the humour within them, bringing comfort to the subject instead of unease.

“I say this at every show and I will keep saying it until it happens,” Granirer explained, on a more serious note, “We as a society need to treat mental health issues the same as physical health issues. When someone walks into a workplace with a headache, it’s no big deal, everyone can handle it, maybe they’re offered a cup of tea or some Aspirin. Someone needs to be able to go into that exact same workplace and say ‘I’m on the edge of a panic attack’ or ‘my voices are a little loud,’ and it needs to be greeted the exact same!”

“I think about what a difference it would have made in my life if I had seen people like you just saw up on stage. I would have thought, ‘This is proof that recovery is possible.’”

At the end of the night, Krystian Shaw, who helped get the Stand Up for Mental Health program to Kamloops, was presented with a WOW Award. These awards are presented by Community Living B.C. and are given out to four people in the province who are doing great work in their communities to make them inclusive to people with disabilities and mental health issues.

For more information on the Stand Up for Mental Health program, visit standupformentalhealth.com.