Laughter in the Face of Mental Illness
This weekend, I had the opportunity to see the comedy/spoken word one man show Fruitcake: Ten Commandments of the Psych Ward, by Rob Gee. It was a wonderful production. The performance was witty, energetic, engaging, and wickedly funny. This show was about the lessons Rob has learned from his time of working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital (with the help of the voice of God, who happens to be a Jamaican woman). It’s not easy to laugh in the face of mental illness, especially when the play revolves around the stories of his patients.
At the beginning of the play, you are introduced to Rob, the voice of God that he hears in his head, some of his coworkers and the residents of the hospital. Because of the delicate nature of the subject, the audience doesn’t exactly know how to react at first. We aren’t sure if we should be laughing -and so our response is tentative at best. Once Rob starts talking about his own story (or at least the story of the narrator), we started settling in and enjoying the comedy. It’s a special talent to be able to relax an audience, and get them to enjoy stories about suffering, drug abuse, and behaviours that we just can’t understand, unless we have actually be in that situation.
Throughout the production, we learn a great deal, how to restrain a person properly, how to give an injection without paralyzing the patient, and how to laugh at ourselves. But most of all, we learn to respect and show patience to people who are having a rough time of it, because you never know when you could be afflicted with something similar.
You can watch the promotional video, of Fruitcake – Ten Commandments of the Psych Ward here, which gives you a glimpse of the journey I took this weekend.
Bzowy, L. (2014). Laughter in the Face of Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/celebrity/2014/08/laughter-in-the-face-of-mental-illness/