LIFE, LOSS AND LAUGH­TER

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Front Page -

AUSSIE co­me­dian Har­ley Breen knew he was go­ing to face some naysay­ers when his new show started, those who per­haps thought he shouldn’t be mak­ing a joke of peo­ple in vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tions. But three episodes into this four-part se­ries, he has proved that you can have a laugh at just about any­thing. His show, in which he spends a week with dif­fer­ent groups of peo­ple in a hol­i­day house in NSW – the ter­mi­nally ill, men­tally ill, those with a phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity and those who face racism – sheds light on how they deal with th­ese chal­lenges on a daily ba­sis. And then Breen pro­duces a stand up com­edy rou­tine about their week to­gether in front of an au­di­ence, in­clud­ing his new friends and sub­jects. This week, he turns to four par­tic­i­pants who live with men­tal ill­ness. In his open­ing mono­logue he says: “I’ll give you the list of men­tal ill­ness we have here tonight – we have de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, bipolar, anorexia and psy­chosis. It’s a real bag of nuts.” He fin­ishes off by say­ing he mis­tak­enly thought this episode would be the eas­i­est of the lot. But he found it chal­leng­ing, namely be­cause men­tal ill­ness is some­thing so many peo­ple in so­ci­ety live with. It may be a con­fronting for­mat for tele­vi­sion, but it’s one that is ef­fec­tive in start­ing con­ver­sa­tions about tough, or taboo, top­ics in the com­mu­nity. And as Breen ex­plains, not all sit­u­a­tions are funny, but they can all have an el­e­ment of hu­mour in them.

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