SMH Comedy Society is celebrating 20 years of laughter with a purpose. In our chat with executive director David Granirer, he explained that SMH is not just about making people laugh—it’s about teaching stand-up comedy to folks like themselves who deal with mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder. The goal is to use humour as a tool for building confidence and raising awareness about mental health. Looking back on two decades, he emphasized that SMH is more than just a comedy group; it’s a community breaking down stigma and fostering understanding.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
We teach stand-up comedy to people like myself with mental health issues (I have bipolar) as a way of building confidence and raising awareness around mental health. This year is our 20th Anniversary.
During that time we’ve trained about 300 comics and done close to 500 shows for Government, corporations, unions, the military, non-profit organizations, correctional facilities etc., and we’ve also been part of med school curriculums.
What problem does it aim to solve?
It aims to build confidence among people with mental health issues and fight public stigma.
When did you start/join it?
I started the Stand Up For Mental Health in 2004.
What made you want to get involved?
I saw how powerful stand-up comedy was – both in creating recovery for people with mental health issues and raising awareness and fighting stigma in the general public.
People come to our shows and gain a totally different perspective on mental health. They see people with labels like “bipolar” “schizophrenia” “OCD” etc and they’re funny, likeable, courageous, and friendly, all the things people normally don’t associate with people with mental health conditions.
The best compliment I ever had was when I heard this guy say, “That comic with schizophrenia was hilarious,” and how often do you hear hilarious and schizophrenia in the same sentence?
What was the situation like when you started?
There was much more stigma and discrimination against people with mental health issues.
How has it changed since?
There is more public awareness and people understand more about what it means to have a mental health condition.
What more needs to be done?
More public education, including more SMH shows!!
How can our readers help?
They can come to our shows and help spread the word!
Do you have any events coming up?
Yes – we have our 20th Anniversary show on April 13 at 7 pm at the Hastings Racecourse and Casino 188 N Renfrew in Vancouver.
Tickets are $20.00.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
The Crisis Centre of BC – I was a trainer there for about 10 years. 🙂