Reducing the stigma of mental health with comedy

Film screening of Cracking Up gave viewers a cheerful hope for recovery

The Kamloops community filed into the newly-saved Paramount Theatre for an evening of laughs. Joined by the founder of Vancouver-based project Stand Up For Mental Health, David Granirer, the audience followed the lives of students as they participated in a comedy boot camp in the documentary Cracking Up.

Audiences were treated to a performance from the Kamloops Pride Choir and the funny antics from the evening’s hosts Lisa Macauley and Arron Butowski.

In the documentary, Cracking Up, audiences followed Granirer as he leads a group of stand-up newbies through a comedy boot camp with the goal of bringing light to their personal struggles in a safe environment.

Cracking Up follows a group of naturally gifted individuals from all walks of lives who have been afflicted with mental illness as they learn how to cope with their disadvantages with humour in a safe place.

“There’s something incredibly healing about telling a room full of people exactly who you are and having them laugh and cheer,” Granirer said.

The Stand Up for Mental Health project is not intended as therapy but rather a safe place for those to speak of their lives in a respectful and stigma-free environment.

Granirer, who spent a number of years teaching a stand-up comedy course at Langara College expressed the need facilitate the life-changing powers of comedy.

“I would see people come through they would have these life changing experiences and I thought ‘wow, wouldn’t it be cool to give this to the people who want comedy but would also like the life changing experience’,” Granirer said.

Cracking Up offers the audience the hope that recovery is possible with this light-hearted approach. Krystian Shaw, the founder of the Kamloops Self Advocate, noted that projects such as Cracking Up have been active all over the world but are new to the Kamloops community.

“[CBC] really captured the essence of what Stand Up For Mental Health does,” Granirer said of the 2005 documentary project

All money raised from the evening will go back into bringing Stand Up to Mental Health to Kamloops. A gracious donation by Missagh Manshadi will make this program possible for those afflicted with mental illness in the community.