'Laughter is the best medicine' for former paramedic

A Sudbury man says being a stand-up comic helps him cope with mental illness.

Sudbury's Robert Simoneau considers stand-up comedy a form of therapy

A Sudbury man says he turned to stand-up comedy to help him cope with mental illness. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

A Sudbury man says being a stand-up comic helps him cope with mental illness.

Robert Simoneau, who lives with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, says laughter really is the best medicine.

He is a former paramedic who turned to stand-up comedy a couple of years ago, after being inspired by his father.

"He had a terminal illness and he sat me down, and his dying wish was he wanted me to pursue comedy," Simoneau explained.

"All my life, I was able to make him laugh, even when he was sick, and I was able to do that with a lot of people."

Simoneau said he performs in Sudbury and around the region.

"It’s definitely a form of therapy," he said.

"When you hear ... laughter is the best medicine ... I’m an advocate of that, for sure. It’s not just a slogan. If you can laugh every day or smile, you’re [going to] feel a lot healthier than someone who is angry."

The organizer of an open mic show at a Sudbury club where Simoneau performs said he has watched him develop his craft and seen his personal growth.

"Getting up on stage an conquering that anxiety is a big step," Michael Emond said. "But if you can do it, it can bleed into other areas of your life and give you confidence to do other things."

Edmond said Simoneau has come out of his shell off-stage, as well as on.