+
Health

Breakthrough approach to therapy is helping people turn trauma into 5-minute comedy sets

Laughter really is the best medicine

stand up comedy for men at risk of suicide
Photo by Michel Grolet on Unsplash

Don't mind me, just healing my trauma up here

Stand up comedy seems easy, but it's not. First, there’s the arduous task of actually creating material–being able to look at life through a certain lens, then having enough skill to translate that perspective into jokes that actually land. Plus there’s the whole bearing-your-soul-to-a-room-full-of-strangers aspect, one of the most common fears known to man.

Giphy

These factors combined perhaps don’t seem like a recipe for helping mental health, but as it turns out, stand-up comedy is proving to be a powerfully effective therapy tool. Just ask Angie Belcher, founder of Comedy on Referral.

Belcher has taught comedy for a decade, and over the years students would comment how much “stronger, more resilient and happier they were after exploring their personal histories through stand-up comedy.” It not only helped change their perspective, but sharing it all on stage put them in a “powerful position” to change their narrative of painful memories…possibly inspiring others to do the same.

“As a comedian, you could be the reason why someone in your audience does something differently,” Belcher told The Guardian

Comedy of Referral is a six-week program that allows people to process traumatic experiences by turning them into five minute comedy sets. Similar to the way art therapy helps explore difficult emotions through different mediums, students navigate personal issues through the use of theater games, as well as group and one-on-one work as they channel their “comedic persona." Participants are supported by psychologists in order to avoid triggering any past trauma.

two man laughing at each otherPhoto by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Watching comedy has long been researched and documented as a constructive way to cope with tragedy. Laughter itself produces endorphins that help release stress. It inspires empathy and connection. It can even help reduce stigmas surrounding certain mental health conditions. The Comedy on Referral program is proving that creating comedy can be just as helpful as consuming it. Their website claims that through stand-up coaching, trauma can become “more manageable as the story becomes one of validation and redemption rather than an unpleasant experience.”

The theory appears to be spot on. After a highly successful trial NHS-course for trauma survivors in Bristol, England, London’s NHS (National Health Service) has agreed to fund Comedy on Referral so that private practices throughout the country can prescribe the course to men at risk of suicide. Lourdes Colclough, head of suicide prevention at Rethink Mental Illness, noted that this demographic is an especially “hard-to-reach group.”

“Even though they’ve been diagnosed, [they] don’t think they have an issue and so won’t go to counseling or attend anything signposted [as] ‘suicide prevention’,” she reflected. But this is exactly the kind of challenge that Comedy on Referral is designed for. The unique curriculum uses creativity and humor to help people not only feel comfortable enough to open up, but come out being able to experience their life in a more empowering way.

Humor can be the friend we need when life gets hard. In times of uncertainty, crisis, and despair, it can uplift us from the inside out, and remind us that joy is a basic human need.

“I hope that participants will use what they learn on the course in their practical everyday life, so that they go into future endeavors with joy, hopefulness and playfulness rather than taking out their bully teenager-persona or their depressed 20-something persona or their grieving mother-persona or whatever it is,” said Belcher.

Comedy of Referral has plans to support as many people as possible. In addition, Belcher is also in talks to extend the program to young people with autism and ADHD, the Guardian reported.

Through programs like Comedy on Referral, people can learn to harness humor for themselves, and in the process become resilient, hopeful, and of course, funnier. Not a bad trade-off.

Pop Culture

Tired of 'hacks?' Here are 20 of the best life tips sourced from 21.9 million real people.

All of them are simple and practical. A few might just change your life.

Arjun Mahadevan's life pro tip Twitter thread

Arjun Mahadevan gave the world a gift when he crowdsourced the best “life pro tips” from nearly 22 million people. He shared the top 20 in a Twitter thread that’s got over 619,000 views. Mahadevan sourced the tips from the Life Pro Tips subforum on Reddit, which has been running since 2010.

Mahadevan is the CEO of doolaHQ which he calls the “business-in-a-box” for LLCs.

Mahadevan labeled his advice “20 life tips you wish you knew when you were 20,” but they are helpful for everyone regardless of age. They’re useful for anyone who is in a relationship, has a job or wants to stay sane in an aggravating world.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

Fascinating video shows how an orangutan mom learned to nurse from a breastfeeding zookeeper

Zoe had been orphaned at a young age and hadn't developed her maternal instincts.

Metro Richmond Zoo/Youtube

Just two new moms helping each other.

Whitlee Turner, a zookeeper for the Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia, was given a unique task—teach an orangutan to breastfeed.

Turner’s pupil, Zoe, had been orphaned at a young age, and without guidance presumably hadn’t learned any maternal instincts. Zoe’s first baby had to be hand-raised after she was unable to nurse, so when baby #2 came around, the zoo was determined to reach a different outcome.

That’s why they called on Turner, who had coincidentally also become a new mom. Thinking Zoe could be taught by example—a strategy that’s proven successful in the past—Turner was asked to bring her newborn son, Caleb, in to give a demonstration.

Turner agreed wholeheartedly.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

People are loving Drew Barrymore's live reaction to her first perimenopause hot flash

“I don’t know that I have ever heard a celebrity talk about a hot flash in the moment. Thank you for being so real."

The Drew Barrymore Show/Youtube

Drew Barrymore getting a quick assist from Jennifer Aniston

It feels safe to say that many, if not most people hail Drew Barrymore as the “Queen of Candid.” She can seemingly talk to absolutely anyone about anything in a way that’s consistently warm and authentic.

That even goes for when she experiences her first hot flash in front of a live television audience, apparently.

While speaking with guests Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler on her talk show, Barrymore abruptly appears flustered, fanning herself and removing her jacket.

Without missing a beat, she says, “I am so hot, I think I'm having my first perimenopause hot flashes.”
Keep ReadingShow less

A subway station at 59th street in New York City.

New Yorkers may seem like a brash, uncaring bunch to the uninitiated. But when you get to know the people and the city, you’ll probably realize that they are “kind, but not nice,” as opposed to how many describe people on the West Coast as “nice, but not kind.”

A great example of New Yorkers looking out for one another happened on Reddit’s AskNYC subforum earlier this month. AskNYC is where New Yorkers consult one another on various topics, such as where to get cheap rent, subway shortcuts, and places to volunteer.

It all started when a Redditor named Andy, 21, who is autistic, reached out for help in a post titled, “Please help, where do I wait.” On the forum he goes by the name GalacticBambi. Andy is a native New Yorker who moved away at a young age. His father passed away two years ago, so he came back to the Big Apple to see his cousin and learn more about his father.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Basketball referee has an emotional reunion with the player who saved his life on the court

Not many people survive a "widow maker," but thanks to the player's quick actions, this ref lived to call another game.

Basketball referee reunites with player who saved his life.

There are some things people are never quite prepared to experience, and a heart attack is high on that list. Semi-pro basketball referee John Sculli found himself on the receiving end of an unexpected heart attack, right in the middle of reffing a game.

Sculli was keenly watching the game between Toledo Glass City and the Jamestown Jackals when he went from following the players down the court to sprawled out on the ground. He was quickly surrounded by other referees, but his fall got the attention of Myles Copeland, who recognized Sculli was unresponsive and immediately began CPR.

"I had never witnessed someone just collapse, but I knew what had to be done," Copeland told CBS.

Turns out Copeland wasn't just a basketball player, he was also a firefighter, and his quick actions saved Sculli's life. Doctors told the referee and his fiancé, Donna, that he had a "widow maker" heart attack, which is often fatal. So when the two men got a chance to reconnect with Donna in tow, emotions ran high and CBS caught it on video.

Keep ReadingShow less

No more cleaning mattresses. Mom has a hack for stomach bugs.

Whether you have kids or plan to have kids in the future, you should know that you're going to clean up someone else's bodily fluids and waste. It's just a fact of caring for small children. In fact, you can almost guarantee that you're going to clean up vomit that exits a tiny person's body with more force than you knew possible. Is it fun? No. Does it help that kids are cute and just want cuddles when they're not feeling well? Absolutely.

There are all kinds of tips and tricks to make your little ones feel better during cootie season, which can sometimes feel year-round. Some people swear by homeopathic preventions and remedies while others stock up on vitamin C. But outside of Pedialyte popsicles and keeping a bucket nearby hoping for the best, there's not really a trick to surviving the dreaded stomach bug.

Except, maybe there is. A mom who runs the TikTok account @lovedthishatedthat may have just cracked the code to surviving those long nights when your kid has a stomach bug: an inflatable bed.

Keep ReadingShow less