David Granirer is a counselor, stand-up comic, mental health keynote speaker and author of the Happy Neurotic, How Fear and Angst Can Lead To Happiness and Success. He performs, maintains a counseling practice and teaches Stand-Up Comedy Clinic at Langara College in Vancouver, where he takes people from all walks of life who have had a secret desire to do stand-up comedy and after eight weeks has them on stage performing at a comedy club. Many of his students have gone on to become professional comics, performing at festivals such as Just For Laughs, and on TV shows like Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson.
A pioneer in the use of humor to increase wellness, reduce stress, and cope with change, David has also taught stand up comedy to recovering addicts and cancer patients. His work was profiled in the Global TV documentary Laughing Through The Pain and in the Voice Award winning documentary Cracking Up.
He founded Stand Up For Mental Health, a program teaching stand-up comedy to people with mental illness as a way of building self-esteem and fighting public stigma. Stand Up For Mental Health has groups across Canada and the U.S.
David got the idea for Stand Up For Mental Health from watching students in his Langara Stand-Up Comedy Clinic course. “I’ve had students overcome long standing depressions and phobias, not to mention increasing their confidence and self-esteem. There’s something incredibly healing about telling a roomful of people exactly who you are and having them laugh and cheer.”
He is also the recipient of a Champion of Mental Health Award. These national awards recognize individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the mental health agenda in Canada.
He also received a Life Unlimited Award from the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance. The award honors individuals who exemplify a life unlimited by depression or bipolar disorder actively working to help others do the same.
And he received a Welcome Back Award from National Council for Behavioral Healthcare for his work using comedy to de-stigmatize mental illness
David also has depression. It first hit when he was 16. After an increasing downward spiral of drinking and abusing prescription drugs, he attempted suicide by overdosing on pills and was taken to the psych ward. He remained there for 6-weeks before being released. He states, “Upon my release, I felt this crippling shame, this horrible sense of being flawed and bad. Unfortunately there was no education at the time and no one explained to me what I was going through. Back then no one talked about mental illness, you just knew it was something terrible and unacceptable.”
“I remember going around thinking, ‘I am nothing, I am no one.’ My whole personality changed from being an extrovert to a hermit who isolated and avoided people. I’d be walking down the street and see someone I knew and run around the block to hide from them.”
Since then he has received years of therapy and taken medication while still enduring periodic bouts of depression.
“Seeing people talking about their mental illness through comedy would have made such a difference to me at that point in my life. To have mental illness brought out of the closet in that way, to have role models who were funny and courageous would have been huge in helping me to overcome my shame. It would have given me hope that recovery is possible.”
Stand Up For Mental Health has been featured in hundreds of media stories throughout the English speaking world. All the coverage has been overwhelmingly positive, thus helping to create acceptance and fight the stigma around mental illness.
David is also author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead to Happiness and Success. The book’s premise is that people can be happy, productive, and well-adjusted while remaining as neurotic as ever. Says David, “I got tired of all those self-help books that say you have to be completely confident and spiritually centered in order to succeed. I think those books set people up to fail. I’m basically a neurotic guy, and my fear and anxiety are a fabulous source of motivation. And I think there are lots of people out there like that. We need to be able to celebrate our neurotic ways of getting things done rather than feel ashamed of them.”
In addition, David also gives laughter in the workplace presentations to hundreds of organizations across North America, helping them use humor to decrease stress, increase wellness and cope with change.