Laughter – the best medicine

Local artists to host Fort McMurray’s first Spamedy Show

By Hanna Fridhed, Connect Contributor

Renee Manners with her son Mason and their puppy. Supplied photo

Renee Manners with her son Mason and their puppy. Supplied photo

As Renee Manners, a skilled local painter and artist, was driving out of town during the evacuation, she realized that the road ahead would be challenging for the people in the vehicles around her.

“I was thinking of how hard it was going to be for us as a community to come back from this,” she said. “Many of us have never been taught how to deal with grief and negative feelings.”

Throughout her life, Manners has encountered grief many times, forcing her to learn about how it evolves and what steps that can be taken to break the negative cycles.

“My own mother suffered from depression,” confided Manners. “I know what it’s like to love someone that doesn’t love themselves – and it’s painful.”

The idea of using her knowledge of grief, self-care and humor to help the women of Fort McMurray combat grief and negative emotions has been on Manners’ mind for quite a long time.

Together with Erica Moeskau, a local stand-up comedian and improv performer, the concept of an evening that combined humor and a good time with self-care, spa treatments and methods of dealing with grief started to form. The idea of a spa comedy show – a Spamedy – was born.

“I will be showing the audience how to do ‘on the spot de-stressing,” explained Renee. “I felt compelled to make this evening happen, I want to get people laughing again.”

Depression is a common reaction to trauma, usually surfacing approximately six to nine months afterwards.
“It’s much easier to prevent depression than it is to deal with it once it’s set in,” explained Manners.

Her passion about the subject of understanding and dealing with depression and grief in everyday life comes from her experiences with her mother and her depression.

“I realized that if someone would have talked to my mom earlier in her life about these things, her life might have turned out very differently,” she said. “By showing our vulnerability, it opens for others to be vulnerable too.”

Manners is hoping that the Spamedy will create a ripple effect that spreads throughout the community, and that it will help women to better understand the natural repercussions of a traumatic experience and how humor and self-care can be used to combat post-traumatic stress.

“We have a burnt forest, what are we going to do – stomp on it? No, we are going to plant more trees,” she finished. “I hope this evening will start our own fire – one that’s joyful – that spreads to the people around us.”

The Spamedy night is scheduled to take place on the Keyano Theatre main stage on November 5. Tickets can be purchased through the box office.

– Connect Weekly –