My laughter journey from ill-health and a life on benefits after losing my job to running my own laughter business, has now evolved to running "Laughter Cleanse" - first in the world to combine a juice cleanse and raw food detox retreat with the healing benefits of laughter - it just makes so much sense!
At home, at college, in relationships, in comedy etc I was the laid back funny guy that only very rarely let the mask slip. It wasn't until circumstances in my personal life hit a wall that finally the act had to come to an end and for the first time in my life, I snapped and told someone what was going on inside me on any given day.
We need this downtime for our psyche. We need to allow ourselves to feel pain, sadness, boredom, indolence. It's part of our emotional ecosystem, which is very good at balancing itself out if you allow it to. Technology is a barrier to this. Our soul is like the weather - you have rain, sun, wind, snow - all the elements. We are using technology to mask these feelings and it's affecting our mental health.
There's something else that happens when comedians tackle things like mental illness: it creates a conversation. It lifts stigma in a more powerful way than a dozen earnest documentaries can do. It achieves that which seemed impossible that day I genuinely thought I'd never do comedy again: it makes it OK that I went through it - and it's OK if you went through it, too.
When I tell people I am a stand-up comedian they often say "but aren't you all depressive alcoholics?" I always tell them that's unfair - some of us are anxious cokeheads. Nonetheless, to counter these pernicious stereotypes I thought I'd offer some proof of the healing power of comedy. Here are three areas in which my job has improved my mental well being.
I regularly get told the classic "You'd never know it to look at you" and, "You seem like you've got it all together." Believe me I very much do not, the battle in my head is so tiresome. Often I'll smile at someone whilst thinking, "gosh I want to die so much" and I'm by in no means the one swimming in the choppiest water.