• Dan Zerin

Why I Do Comedy

and how comedy has changed my life.

Crowd from "My Voices Have Tourettes"

Why do I do comedy?

I’ve wanted to try stand up comedy since I was a little kid. But, I never imagined it would ever become a career for me. I always wanted to be a guitarist in a touring rock band. That was all I could think of. The only thing I ever wanted. I lived and breathed through music. I always viewed comedy simply as something I would try and maybe do as a side project.

I was never the class clown. But, I always found myself trying to make people smile or laugh because I didn’t want anyone to feel the way I felt inside. Even if it was just for a second, I wanted to distract people from anything negative in their life and give them joy. People often wonder how so many comedians are such sad people, but they bring so much happiness to others. In my case, I found that the reason I could always cheer my friends up and not myself was because it’s easier to cheer someone up when you care about or love them. When you don’t care about or love yourself, it’s more difficult.

When I moved to Iceland in 2015, I found myself slowly doing less and less musically. In March of 2016, I got an opportunity and decided to try stand up comedy. I had a few jokes I’d worked on and thought I’d give it a shot. For an hour before I got up to do it, I felt like I was going to throw up. I was insanely nervous and terrified. I drank so much water, I felt like I was going to piss for days. But, I fought through it because I wanted to do it. I kept telling myself “As long as you make one person smile, the rest doesn’t matter. You were a success.” That’s all I’ve wanted in comedy. Simply to make people happy. My name is called, I go up in front of a room full of people, and do just over two minutes. “I did it! I tried it!”, I thought. “I feel completely sick”... I also thought. That feeling didn’t go away for several hours. But, I had a blast. So, it was worth it.

After my set, the host came to me, said he loved my set, and told me about another local comedy night and that I should try that one. I found very quickly that the comedians here were very welcoming and encouraging and it made me feel that maybe comedy is something that could work for me. Maybe I could turn this into something and I ended up becoming completely addicted to comedy.

Shortly after trying stand up, I decided to write jokes about my experiences with Tourette Syndrome. Not only did it go well, people came up to me after to thank me for talking about it. It felt amazing to see people so happy. Not long after that, I saw Elva Dögg perform. It was the first time in my life that I saw a comedian with TS and the first time I met another person who was not only open about having TS, she was VERY open about it. It was beyond inspiring. For the first time in my life, I felt like I wasn’t alone. I felt like everything was going to be ok because I wasn’t alone. Because of her, I decided to be more open and keep talking about TS in my sets.

In April, last year, I contacted Elva and asked her if she wanted to do a show with me to highlight being comedians with TS. As soon as she said yes, I decided to invite my friend Hannah (a comedian with Schizophrenia) to join us because I wanted everyone to feel what I did after seeing Elva perform, not just people with TS.

It is now 2019 and this show is not only still growing and evolving, it has inspired people, changed lives, brought smiles and laughter, we’ve done interviews, spoken/performed at schools, helped us (in the show) with our own personal struggles, given me a family that is so much better than anything I could have ever asked for... to answer the question of “why I do comedy”, this is why. Comedy is why I am finally ok with having TS. Comedy is how I have learned to cope with the suffering caused by my disorders. Comedy is why I finally love myself and who I am. Comedy has brought people together to raise awareness and inspire.

Comedy has shown me that I too can be happy.

#myvoiceshavetourettes #mentalhealthmatters #comedy #standupcomedy #comedian #reykjavik #Iceland #tourettesyndrome #makingadifference #smile

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