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Doomsday Shelter Comedy For Mental Health Night

Jason and Amanda Fylan came to Oakland University on an invite by the Resident Life Association. In their 3 hour show, they brought forth laughter and smiles throughout the night with the help of comedians Jason Jamerson and Brad Wenzel. Their comedy highlighted the realities of life, from balancing mental health matters, to stories of their childhoods. The audience was engaged, and enjoying the performances. Afterwards, I was able to speak with the founders and comedians to get a glimpse into their lives beyond the spotlight.

Comedian Jason Jamerson detailed his start in comedy. For him, it felt a natural leap from a budding acting career into the stage life. Mr. Jamerson was “doing a movie, with another comedian, and we both were extras. We were joking in extras holding, and he (Charlie Newhart) said that ‘Hey, you need to get on stage.’ He showed me which clubs to go to for open mic comedy nights. I went, bombed, and the rush was there.” Mr. Jamerson’s best advice to young people looking to break into the industry was to be themselves.

“People will accept you, so long as you are just you. People respect that.”

For Brad Wenzel, comedy is something that just happens. Mr. Wenzel advised people to just “sit and observe” their world, both on and off the stage in order to provide the best grounds for humor. To him, the observations are critical, since they can give off a “feeling”, as he puts it, in order to address anything that happens. For example, “If someone does something, or makes a weird noise, you kind of have to engage with the crowd, in order to keep the momentum going.” His best advice for handling stage fright? “Just get on stage as much as you can. It’s like riding a bike or something like that. You get less nervous as you do it more.”

Amanda Fylan and Jason Fylan-Mars are the founders of Doomsday Shelter comedy. For them, the organization represents the light on the other side of the darkness for Mr. Fylan’s life. He detailed his near-debilitating struggle with OCD before he turned to comedy. For Mr. Fylan, before starting Doomsday Shelter comedy, he would “sleep, research how to keep his cats alive forever, cry, then sleep once more” day after day after day. Finally, after many attempts to control his symptoms of OCD, he was formally diagnosed with treatment resistant depression. However, his wife Amanda, with one last hope, pushed him to join a comedy class. To her, this solution seemed obvious.

“We would go to Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle for nights out, and it was the only time he came alive. For an hour and half, he would laugh, and afterwards he would kind of come back during the 40 minute drive when he talked about it.”

For Mr. Fylan, before he started doing comedy, he was a writer. He often turns back to his old journals of his time with treatment resistant depression. For him, the painful memories are a symbol of overcoming. He is proud of where he came from. He explains that “When you feel that way, you have a hard time picturing yourself feeling better. Now that I feel better, I have a hard time picturing myself feeling that way.” He advises that people “channel their darkness. Embrace it in small doses, let it come out in your art. It can help make it better.”

All in all, the Doomsday Shelter Comedy For Mental Health was a testament to the trials of the human condition, and I encourage all to at attend!

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