Curing mental illness has a lot to do with overcoming the stigma that comes with it. Thanks to the good folks at Stand Up for Mental Health (SMH), they’re teaching people that laughter is the best medicine by turning patients into performers and empowering them through stand-up comedy. The self-healing, scene-stealing program is spreading like wildfire across both Canada and the U.S. and, last week, the group celebrated with a pre-show reception at Vancouver’s lavish new Shangra-La Hotel. Afterwards, it was off to the Stanley Theatre stage for the 2009 Class Debut where, as they say at SMH, everyone got a chance to crack-up together.
01 – Vancouver Community Mental Health director Lorna Howes and hubby David enjoyed the pre-show reception.
02 – Black Press’ own Fiona Harris looks elegant in black silk as she proudly lends her support to this worthwhile cause.
03 – MP Don Davies, left, MLA Jenny Kwan and MLA Adrian Dix are among the political VIPs in attendance. Is there an election looming?
04 – Alumni comics like Alex Winstanley and Eufemia Fantetti are still strong supporters of the program and still perform.
05 – Looking forward to the show is Anthony Baldo, Assistant Warden at Ferndale Institute.
06 – Program founder, counselor and performer David Granier prepares with son Jonathan, who, like dad, is also a stand-up comic.
07 – Program coordinator Pat Bayes chats with UBC’s Dr. Kerry Jang, who is also now a Vancouver City Councillor.
08 – Now a successful comic, Paul Decarie credits the program with taking him off alcohol, and off the streets of the downtown Eastside.
April 19, 2009 (published April 24, 2009)