Cracking Up

People say laughter is the best medicine, but can it be used to treat severe mental illness? Exploring the therapy of laughter, Cracking Up provides a compelling view of how comedy can change the mind of an individual and the thoughts of a society.

Cracking Up follows the story of 11 courageous people who stand up for their mental health—literally! Using laughter as a form of therapy, counselor, comedian and author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead to Happiness and Success David Granirer trains these individuals who suffer from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and manic depression, to confront their problems through stand-up comedy. While learning to laugh at themselves, they get to share their stories and address public stigma with an audience that has a lot to learn about mental disorders.

Giving a face to mental illness, this documentary introduces audiences to inspiring individuals, such as Michael Warren who has both bi-polar disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Michael couldn’t speak properly until he was a teenager, but it hasnt deterred him from his dream to become a stand-up comedian. Likewise, Paul Decarie suffered traumatic injury to his brain and spine after falling off a second story balcony when he was two years old, but he too is determined to attain a career as a professional actor and stand-up comedian. Eufemia Fantetti has battled clinical depression for most of her life, yet she is striving to find her long lost sense of humour. Sufferer of schizophrenia, Robbie Engelquist uses his creativity and the unusual voices inside his head as inspiration for his jokes. Each of their stories provokes viewers to reevaluate their perceptions and biases towards people with mental illness.

From the first fumbles of the microphone, to their one-on-one performances in front of the mirror, to their sold out graduation show at one of Vancouvers biggest theatres, Cracking Up takes viewers on a quirky journey through the unique perspectives of some remarkable people.

Granirer founded Stand Up for Mental Health in Vancouver to help people with mental disorders build self-esteem and fight public stigma. Now, his program is offered in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Courtenay, Guelph, Fort Frances, Toronto, Ottawa, and Granirer travels North America bringing it to other cities. As a pioneer in the use of comedy as therapy, Granirer gives those with mental illness a voice and a stage to tell their stories. This emotionally moving documentary changes peoples views of mental illness, provides them with hope, and most importantly, makes them laugh.

To buy the documentary go to

Feb. 12, 2009