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***Winner 2011 Canadian Comedy Awards Best One Person Show”***

In 2008, Toronto actor Daniel Stolfi was diagnosed with Acute Non-Hodgkin’s T-Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, a form of cancer that would require aggressive chemotherapy over the following two years. He had to put his burgeoning acting career on hold to embark on the most physically, mentally, and emotionally draining journey of his life. While battling Cancer, Daniel lost his Hair, his Appetite, his Strength and his Sex Drive. The most tragic of all, he lost his ability and his desire to dance. With comedy at its core, this one-man show uses larger-than-life characters to vividly portray Daniel’s experience. Told mercilessly with a thrill and lust for the finer things in life, Cancer Can’t Dance Like This recalls the pain Dan endured during his treatment while embracing his own saving grace – the fine art of comedy.

Nothing tops a personal story and Cancer Can’t Dance Like This” is a glorious one – full of poignancy, emotion and meaning. Those of us who work in health care may know the numbers, the science, the cost… but this is the real thing. Daniel Stolfi tells his story brilliantly.

Neil Stuart, Board Chair, Cancer Care Ontario

 

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Q & A with Daniel Stolfi, writer and performer of Cancer Can’t Dance Like This

Q: Cancer Can’t Dance Like This is a one-man show that uses comedy to convey your experience with cancer. How did the writing of it help you deal with your situation?

A: Writing this show was very cathartic for me. I found myself constantly trying to find the right words to communicate to people when they asked me how I was feeling or what going through cancer is like. So I thought, why not write a show that would explain all of these things in about an hour, so anyone who wanted to know the Who, What, When, Where and How could do so by sitting in a theatre and being entertained.

Q: Most people don’t find much that’s funny in cancer. Do you have trouble convincing people – particularly those dealing with cancer – to come see your show? (Like your mom, for instance?)

A: My mother was the most difficult to convince that it would be funny. Actually, all of my family and friends admitted to me afterwards that they were worried that it was not going to be funny at all. But the response has been unbelievable. And now, when I explain to others that the show is a comedy, I often just end up saying “You just gotta see it,” or “My Mom thinks it’s hilarious.” And you know, if mamma finds it funny, then it’s gotta be good.

Q: There’s a growing movement toward “humour therapy” in treating cancer and other patients. Have you heard directly from patients that Cancer Can’t Dance Like This actually improved their outlook on their own health/situation?

A: With out a doubt yes! So many testimonials have come my way from parents of cancer patients and patients themselves, who are just so uplifted and hopeful after seeing this show. The show is quite powerful and I feel very lucky and fortunate to be able to provide hope and empowerment for others. Really anybody going through or who has gone through a rough time in life can relate.

Q: What aspects of your “life with cancer” do you deal with in the show? A: I deal with the aspects of one’s life that are lost to a disease: a strong healthy person one day becomes a 90-year-old beat-up and bruised war vet the next. For example, I play my Hair as an Italian barber who just wants to be curly again and feel the wind on his face (or keep my ass warm). I play my Sex Drive, a lady-lovin’ lounge singer who just wants to be able to “play,” so-to- speak, but can’t because of all the drugs. My Appetite is Gino, still living at home with momma and papa, who just wants to hit the clubs and grab some street meat.

The many characters in Daniel Stolfi’s CANCER CAN’T DANCE LIKE THIS

Q. You recently won the Canadian Comedy Award for Best One Person Show. What does this award mean to you?

A. Winning the award was a team effort from all those involved in the theatrical creation of the show as well as the care team that supported my fight with cancer. To be recognised by my peers in the comedy world is a great honour. It’s an amazing thing to know that sharing my story with others can have such a powerful and positive impact and winning the Canadian Comedy Award reaffirms the importance of the patient’s story.

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