LIFE, LOSS AND LAUGHTER
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.