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Comedy for Recovery event benefits sober living and recovery program

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There’s a saying that comedy is “tragedy plus time.” But with the upcoming Comedy for Recovery benefit show, some local comedians hope to bridge the gap between the two.

The performance, taking place at ACM@UCO Performance Lab July 16, brings awareness to addiction through laughter. All show proceeds will be donated to Brothers In Recovery, a nonprofit in Newalla that provides sober living and other resources for those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.

Ashley Watson, event emcee, thought up Comedy for Recovery after noticing a lack of safe spaces for those seeking addiction treatment.

“There’s not a lot of activities for people to do who are trying to avoid being in those settings and don’t want to have the temptation around them,” Watson said. “We’re doing this event to … raise awareness and provide a safe haven for people to be able to go out and enjoy ‘adult time’ but not have to worry about whether their sponsor can make it.”

The night’s lineup features BradChad Porter, Ben Flint, Steven Patchin, Matt Hinson, Mack O Henson, CJ Lance and others.

With the show based around sobriety, Comedy for Recovery is an alcohol-free event.

Laughing together

Watson wanted to stage a benefit show for some time, and her experiences with addiction certainly informed her decision to work with Brothers In Recovery. She said her brother struggled with addiction for 15 years before the disease ultimately killed him, and the nonprofit acted as a support system for her family in the aftermath.

“They’re really thorough about helping people,” Watson said. “They’ll go somewhere in the middle of the night to pick people up whose families have called in or can’t help themselves because other facilities don’t have room.”

As Brothers In Recovery director, Chris Flanary sees the fundraiser as a way to educate people about ways to seek help for addiction.

“They say if you’re not having fun in recovery, you’re doing it wrong,” Flanary said. “We believe in the power of laughter, and we like laughing at ourselves a lot of times since the things we’ve put ourselves through and the heartache — you’ve just gotta laugh at it.”

Reducing stigma

Flanary went through treatment in 2007. Soon after, he started working with others. As a result, he knows all too well just how big a problem addiction is in Oklahoma.

“Addictions to painkillers, heroin and methamphetamine are running rampant in Oklahoma, but arresting a drug addict and putting them in jail isn’t treatment if they’re suffering from untreated addiction,” Flanary said. “State funding has been cut so dramatically, and nonprofits are picking it up and trying to help where they can.”

Watson said working with Flanary has opened her eyes to just how large Oklahoma’s population of drug and alcohol addicts is. By holding events like Comedy for Recovery, she hopes to see the stigma surrounding addiction start to fade away.

“People pass others every single day suffering from these issues, whether it’s a stranger on the street, a homeless person or a family member,” Watson said. “I feel like if we can let the stigma of it all go, we could be a lot more compassionate and help people realize that it’s OK to get help and admit that you have a problem. It would make our society a much more productive place.”

Flanary echoed that sentiment, saying that while there’s still a lot to be done, he has already seen some change since he started working with Brothers In Recovery.

“I think the stigma is starting to get better and people are realizing that it is a disease we suffer from just like cancer and diabetes,” he said.

Hopefully, Comedy for Recovery will further spread awareness about addiction while providing plenty of laughs along the way.

The showcase features a live DJ and raffle along with multiple comedian sets, and if all goes well, it could become a regularly scheduled event. Watson said her dream is that Comedy For Recovery grows to the point where it includes headliners who are recovering addicts themselves.

For the time being, Flanary hopes people make it out to the event and leave entertained as well as enlightened.

“We want to have a lot of fun, and it’s going to be a great time, but I hope people also realize there’s hope and love and people out there who want to help them live a different way of life without addiction to drugs or alcohol,” Flanary said. “And it’s one day at a time. We can’t do it all at once, but together, as a community, we can make a difference, which is ultimately what I’m looking to get out of it.”

Learn more about Brothers In Recovery Inc. at brothersinrecoveryinc.com.

Print headline: Laughing matter, Comedy for Recovery offers lighthearted fun while raising awareness of addiction and treatment.

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