As Alzheimer’s disease slowly progressed, it became like a fog in her mother’s mind. Carol Little said she needed to find some way to clear the fog in her mother’s head, and she found a way to do it.
There’s no cure for the disease, but Little, a Shrewsbury resident, found a method to help bring back her mother’s familiarity with the family, and that was by humor. She’s now using humor to help anyone with all sorts of diseases.
“We started cracking jokes that would bring her out of the fog for a little while,” Little said, about her mother. “She remembered to laugh. My mother was Sicilian, and we could use Italian we picked up over the years.”
Little said she realized the healing or comforting power of humor, and has been using it ever since in her non-profit organization, A Good Laugh, Inc.
“I thought there was a lot of people in the same situation, and I just though humor would be a good way for people to cope, those who are affected by illness, depression or trauma.”
Once Little had the idea for her organization in 2008, she applied to be a non-profit with the IRS for their tax exemption status. Little hit a speed bump though, in 2008 when the economy went into a downturn. After finally getting the funds to start her organization, Little said she was able to get it up and running.
The first thing Little did was donate comedy DVD collections to the Hope Lodge in Worcester. The Hope Lodge is an American Cancer Society patient service program that helps shuttle cancer patients to and from their treatments while also offering free lodging. Little said her organization also made donations to the Hole in the Wall Gang in Connecticut, an organization started by movie star Paul Newman to ensure children with serious illnesses could enjoy a full camp experience for free.
“While we liked what we were doing, we wanted to bring humor with a more personal touch, like live comedy,” Little said. For months, Little said she has been getting in touch with area support groups for people with illnesses, to see if they would be interested in participating in a live comedy show.
“We’ve booked Paul Nardizzi, a terrific comedian for our show. He’s been in the Boston circuit for 20 years,” Little said. “He’s been on Conan and Comedy Central.” The show will be on Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. at Veterans Inc. in Shrewsbury, on 59 South St.
“We want to start a tradition of having a live comedy show for people with illnesses,” Little said. “It just seems to me, once you start laughing, you forget about your problems for a little while.”
Little said laughing even in the worst of times can be a coping mechanism. “In terms of people who are struggling with an illness, it’s non-stop drudgery of treatment and hospitals, and when you inject humor in it, it allows people to feel a sense of hope again. I really think it helps people put their troubles at an arms-length for awhile.”
Little said she does because it just feels good to do, she’s drawn to laughter, and she wants to offer those surrounded by negative news to feel the same way.
For support groups that fall under the scope of the mission for A Good Laugh, Inc. who might be interested in registering for Little’s live comedy event, leaders are asked to email email@example.com. For family members or even community members who want to join, they can use the same email address to contact Little to purchase a ticket. Little said she just needs a head count by Aug. 31 so she can coordinate accordingly.
“We’d like as many people to enjoy it as possible,” she said. For more information on the organization itself, visit its Facebook page.