I do a lot of stand up comedy gigs. They’re big fun, so big and so fun that I do most of them inpatient at Turquoise Lodge Hospital here in Albuquerque… and this is a captive audience! Ha! Being funny isn’t a prerequisite! The thing about giving a stand up set to folks inpatient at a treatment facility for substance/alcohol detox and rehab is you don’t have to be all that funny, as I just illustrated. I’ve been inpatient several times at Anna Kaseman Hospital (Kamp Kaseman) and I know how mind-witheringly boring it is inpatient.
How boring? When I am inpatient for mental health crisis treatment, by and large, there are only two things to do:
- Work on a puzzle that has been perpetually and partially completed since 1976 and is missing 42% of the pieces.
If unionized, we patients can sometimes get the hospital staff to take us to the gym or out on a sun-soaked lawn that is 42% goatheads. Or, we can chastise the hospital staff (Ben at Kamp Kaseman) about putting up inspirational quotes from Sylvia Plath by inviting him to post some Kurt Cobain lyrics tomorrow. If you aren’t aware, both Sylvia and Kurt offed themselves, so having their quotes posted as inspirational guten morgen greetings on the common room dry-erase board for folks inpatient for suicidal issues is like giving Oprah Winfrey the keys (and a mirror, and a scale, and a TV show) to a McDonald’s storage room and not expect her go from the gravitational constant closer to that of our moon than the gravitational constant of Jupiter. They’re both horribly inconsistent and counterproductive to specific meaningful recovery.
Or, we (me) can create a sundial with a tree branch shadow and a segmented stucco wall out side our (my) room window, and effectively ensure Reflection Hour is nearly exactly one hour… and this troubled Octaviano (Kamp Kaseman) because… this deserves to be its own article, this goofiness of “Reflection Hour”. And while conversation with crazy people is truly invigorating and interesting initially, within a day or two it becomes just as drab and bland as any of the all-beige menu items you get a Cracker Barrel. I can listen to my own crazy ramblings for the same effect, or the crazy ramblings of the voices no one else are privy to, at their loss, and at my eventual loss because inpatient at Kamp Kaseman I’m given meds to trick these voices into slumbering.
So like I said, going inpatient to tell jokes at Turquoise Lodge doesn’t require our peer comics to be funny. At all. Any interruption in the quality of boredom is welcomed by patients, for this I offer a guarantee. Our peers are trained to tell jokes focusing on topics like our life experiences, challenges we’ve had, and what we do to maintain our wellness and recovery. They are trained to give their best effort to be funny. But they need not be funny. Why?
That’s a lot of goofy prose to pad the top of this article so you hopefully gave up and won’t read what comes next. And what is this? These are the two worst things I’ve ever said. They are not jokes, although some might laugh heartily and if you do you’re welcome to a handful of my psych meds because if you laugh at what is to come then you betray just how fucking nuts you really are.
Merlin’s beard, I hope everyone has stopped reading by now. Here goes.
And this is why Laugh It Off requires an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) with every client and why we train comics in the sacredness of a non-triggering PG-13 level of… humor.
These are the two worst things I’ve ever said. It’s all downhill from here, so anything prickly I say from now on shouldn’t be in the least shocking. We’ve got a good base level and upper limit to work from. Have fun getting these two images out of your Mind Temple. You’re welcome.