Is laughter truly the best medicine?
David Green likes to think so. The Niagara-based comedian is putting that adage into practice next month with a four-part comedy series aimed at promoting mental health and wellness.
Green, who runs the Garden City Comedy Festival, has partnered with Sheri Hawkins of Mainly Niagara to present The Best Medicine, a family-friendly comedy series set to take place on four evenings in February in the theatre at the Niagara Falls History Museum.
Green and Hawkins, who sits on the city’s mental health committee, have collaborated on events before but wanted to work together this time on applying for a grant from the Niagara Falls Cultural Development Fund to put on the comedy series.
“We want to help the city when it comes to mental health,” said Green. “We asked ourselves ‘how can we help promote events and organizations that are doing the work to promote mental health and wellness?’”
Originally, the comedy series was meant to correspond with a mental health fair that was going to be held in the new Hub being built as part of The Exchange on Ferry Street. However, construction delays meant the fair has to be postponed.
“We were so excited to be in that new space,” said Hawkins. “But we understand, delays happen.”
Instead, the fair has been pushed until the spring. The timing seemed important to moved forward with the comedy portion.
“The reality is, even if you didn’t deal with mental health issues before COVID, everyone on some level experienced some sense of anxiety and instability, fear which makes the conversation a little bit easier to have because people understand it a bit more because of personal experience,” said Hawkins.
“Laughing is a great way to connect with mental health.”
Hawkins and Green also created short videos promoting wellness. Filmed at spots like Happy Feet Dance Studio and the Yoga Dome, the topics covered include healthy eating, movement and, of course, laughter. The videos will be showcased during the comedy evenings.
“We want to shine a spotlight on community organizations who are doing the work,” said Green, noting that all proceeds will go to benefit local charities including Willow Arts Community, the Andrew McRae Memorial Fund and Third Space Café.
Set to kick off on Feb. 4, each of the comedy evenings will feature three up-and-coming local comedians alongside a headlining professional act that closes out the show. Green described the comedy nights as being all ages and family-friendly shows.
“We want people to have a good time and keep them laughing,” he said.
The Feb. 4 lineup includes headliner Ronnie Edwards along with Barry Carter, Allie Moore and Taylor Grant. On Feb. 11, headliner Mark Matthews will be joined by Rebecca Hardy, Levi Mann and Brenda Lennie. Thomas Calnan will headline the Feb. 18 show with Joel Van Vliet, Brie Watson and Sab Powers also performing. That evening will also feature a buffet dinner option for those purchasing tickets, with dinner provided by Gabriele’s Catering. On Feb. 25 Larry Smith will be the headliner, other acts include Nik Duncan, Keh Dee and Mitch McBeaudry.
Tickets are $10 each, doors open at 6 p.m. with the show starting at 7 p.m. For the Feb. 18 buffet dinner, tickets are $25 for dinner and the show or $10 for the show only.