Fill your Comedy Prescription!

2 03 2015

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“No that’s ok, I’ll just stay in and watch my favorite program “Apathy.”

I was really fortunate to be part of two great shows this past week. One was a new show I produced and the second was a show I was invited to be on. They were both great.

Each had about 30 people in the audience, which depending on your frame of reference, could be either impressive or not. Trust me, it is.

It always amazes me the disconnect between attendance at these shows with just amazing comics – the audience was laughing hysterically at both, for example – and the difficulty in getting people out to shows. You get 4 to 6┬ácomedians for anywhere from the price of a drink to $15 and it feels like pulling teeth.

I have had several discussions about this and the reasons behind it, what happened since the heyday of comedy in the 80s, how the internet may have “killed” live comedy, etc. etc., but none of that really matters. What matters is that there is a pool of talent that is just unreal. I guarantee, that for most of you, you can find a great show within a 30 minute ride, if not closer.

It keeps occurring to me that, in the same way Uber has “disrupted” the traditional way in which taxi services are purchased and managed, there is a business model for comedy that is also waiting to be developed and executed. The only big difference in my mind is with respect to demand. City dwellers will always need a cab ride to somewhere. Comedy as a demand? Unfortunately, not so much.

The demand is ready, though. Here’s the thing that people are missing: seeing a good comedian is one of the healthiest and rejuvenating things you can do because laughter is a drug. Like music, sex and yes, real drugs, laughter actually impacts your brain and the way you feel. If I could somehow reach out to the medical associations around the world and actually help write and implement guidelines for “laughter prescriptions”, I would do it.

This is not self serving. It is a real thing and yet we choose to sit at home and watch YouTube, which is not the same thing! In fact, the social aspects of laughing together, or listening to music or other things you can imagine doing “together”, have benefits far greater than doing them alone.

A little research on the scientific and health benefits of laughter reveals the following:

  • Dr. Lee Berk at Loma Linda University found, in the 1980s, that laughter helps in the regulation of stress hormones and were linked to the production of antibodies and endorphins, natural pain killers in the body.
  • In 2003 in the journal Neuron, it was found that humor can help regulate the brain’s dopamine levels associated with mood, motivation, attention and learning.

This is a real thing and I ask each of you – if there is one blog post that you forward on to the 1,000 people in your email distribution list or Facebook, let it be this one.

Go see a comedian! It costs less than a co-pay, it is incredibly good for you, there is no pain involved (sometimes just for the comics) and we have a chance to be part of a comedy resurgence when the talent pool is ripe for the plucking.

And, it last’s longer than sex (or that’s what I hear).

Until next time,

Marc

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Wake me when it’s over.

18 02 2015

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I may be aging myself here but what the hell.

I remember decades ago watching “30 Something”. One of the main characters, Nancy, was going through treatments for cancer. In once scene, I forget – she may have been speaking with a therapist – she was describing those first few hazy moments when she is transitioning from sleep to a waking state. She described those first few minutes when she is not aware of her present situation (basically forgets about having cancer) and then describes the feeling that comes forth when she comes to full consciousness and realizes that everything is not ok.

Don’t ask me why I remember this scene at all. I have no idea. I think I was still a teenager at that point. I just recall how poignant that was because it is something that I have definitely experienced and suspect most of us have, particularly when dealing with a long-term, stressful situation.

Going through something unpleasant can tear you down for good or it can build you back up stronger than before. It is cliche but it is true – read any great comeback story or novel. For me, I am working extra hard to build a stronger foundation than I had before – whether it is for my relationships, work, comedy or most importantly, the way in which I process thoughts.

Mornings are tough for me. I don’t know why but I have this weird and annoying thing where I run through all the things in my mind that have to get done and then hit the ground running, as if it is some sort of race, to get it all done before lunch time. When I am first waking up, it feels pretty good and for the most part, I can look forward to the day until reality sets in that with respect to that one stressful black cloud looming over me, the day can take a turn and twist in a direction that I have no control over. I know that it will end – some day and it will get better – some day, but the anxiety of not knowing when that day is is something that is difficult for me.

Even when I was going to graduate school part-time, while working, raising kids, finding money to pay for it, etc., at least I had an idea of how many years it would take so I had a goal to work toward. In contrast to that, however, with this “black cloud”, there is no end date and it just gets worse before it gets better (though I know it will).

That’s where meditation has really helped. As I mentioned before in previous blog posts, I am not even sure if I am truly meditating, but I have been doing a 6 phase mediation from an app called “Omvana” and I really do feel much better in the morning to take on the day. It also really helps me focus the anxiety away from the unknown future to the aspirational future that I can work toward.

There is a lot of talk about being happier. It’s strange. I just got my latest edition of “Outdoor” magazine today and what is the cover article about? You guessed it – how to be happier. I am finding out the hard way, that happiness really does start within and it’s all a state of mind. I really do hope I have a half of a life yet to live because something tells me it’s going to take me at least that long to get where I’m trying to go.

Until next time,

Marc








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