Using laughter as a new medicine

(J.Tunney/The AQ)
(J.Tunney/The AQ)
(J.Tunney/The AQ)

In her fantastic one-woman show Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher says “if my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true. And that is completely unacceptable.”

I think Princess Leia is on to something.

I’ve been given a painful and very embarrassing disease that I will probably have for the rest of my life. Unless my mom’s predictions are right and we’ll be able to just grow me a new colon in ten years, it’s safe to say that Crohn’s is here to stay.

Eight years on, I’m at the point where I’m a little tired of crying about it. The truth is, there’s a lot of humour to be had. I mean, there’s a piece of my small intestine sticking out of my skin. How weird is that?

Recently, I had been playing with the idea of doing stand-up comedy. It came at a friend’s suggestion, and that’s when I realized I had really been thinking about it all along.

Comedy is personal. Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling have created successful television shows largely based on their own personalities. Amy Schumer and Tig Notaro have made careers in stand-up by talking about things nobody else would.

Notice how I’m only name-dropping women? That’s because women are absolutely killing it in comedy. Make no mistake, comedy is still a male-dominated scene. But the growing number of successful female comics makes going up on stage a little less intimidating.

After spending so much of last year out of commission, my resolution this year is to actually do the things I say I want to do. Conveniently for me, there was a comedy open mic downtown. I literally had no excuse not to try stand-up.

So, last Thursday night I headed to The Capital Complex. It’s worth mentioning that I had never been to The Capital before. I think you’ll understand when I say that I’m not the Capital type.

I was heading to a club I don’t go to, only to get up in front of some strangers and talk about poop in the hopes that they will laugh at me. Yeah, no way this could go wrong.

Actually, there were several ways it could go wrong. Would people think it was okay to laugh at a girl when she says she has an ostomy? And if they did laugh, would it be the right kind of laughter?

I was the third act to go up (disclaimer: everyone’s name was drawn from a bucket so this in no way implies than I am important). Nicki Minaj was rapping at full volume in my head. I started with a self-deprecating joke, and it only got more self-deprecating from there.

But here’s the miracle: people laughed at me. The good kind of laughter, too. Right then, I took ownership of my disease. Crohn’s can be funny. Ostomies can be funny.

And as it turns out, my biggest laugh of the night was from a sex joke. So, maybe I can be sexy too.


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