We are delighted to announce the return of A Gala for Mental Health at the Edinburgh Fringe. This year comedians Felicity Ward, Chris Gethard, Susan Calman, Richard Gadd, and Martha McBrier will team up for a one-off Edinburgh Fringe show about the funny side of mental ill-health.
A Gala For Mental Health, programmed by the Mental Health Foundation, is on Wednesday 17 August at 11pm in the Pleasance Ace Dome. Tickets are now on sale. The show is part of the tenth year celebrations of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, a pioneering annual programme that uses the arts to challenge the stigma around mental health problems.
Last year’s inaugural Gala For Mental Health, also hosted by Felicity Ward, brought together Le Gateau Chocolat, Carl Donnelly, Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, and Bryony Kimmings & Tim Grayburn (creators of Fringe smash hit Fake It Til You Make It), in a year when mental health was one of the Edinburgh Fringe’s defining themes. In 2015 the Mental Health Foundation also teamed up with Bryony Kimmings & Tim Grayburn for an extra, one-off performance of Fake It Til’ You Make It at Assembly Hall, after it sold out its entire run at the Traverse Theatre in the first week.
This year’s Gala for Mental Health will focus entirely on comedy, marking a year that has seen a significant increase in the number of comedians talking openly about mental health experiences. The line up will consist of:
Felicity Ward (compere) – The Australian comedian’s new Fringe show, 50% More Likely To Die, sees her return to the subject of mental illness after the huge success of last year’s What If There Is No Toilet, a candid and hilarious show about living with the anxiety caused by irritable bowel syndrome. Felicity has previously appeared on The John Bishop Show, Russell Howard’s Good News and Live from the BBC.
Chris Gethard – the US comedy star of Broad City, The Office and Parks and Recreation makes his Edinburgh Fringe debut this year with Career Suicide, a show that, in his words, focuses on suicide, depression, alcoholism and all the other funniest parts of life’. In 2012 Gethard’s heartfelt open letter to an anonymous fan who was contemplating taking their own life – and his candid confessions about his own mental health issues – generated media coverage across the world.
Susan Calman – The Scottish comedian’s new Fringe show The Calman Before the Storm coincides with the publication of her first book, Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate, described as. ‘a vital account of living with mental ill-health’ (The National). Susan has previously appeared on QI, Have I Got News For You, The News Quiz and Mock The Week.
Richard Gadd – After a string of rave reviews in 2015, the off-the-wall Scottish comedian’s new Fringe show, Monkey See Monkey Do, is his most revealing yet, promising a fresh insight into mental illness in the modern age, perceived ‘masculinity’ and how something presented on the outside is not necessarily the truth on the inside.
Martha McBrier’s 2016 Fringe show, Japanese Boy, tells the uplifting story of the time the comedian took a group of mental health patients to compete in a pool tournament. Martha’s 2015 show won a five star review in The Scotsman and was described as ‘a glorious hour’.
A Gala for Mental Health is supported by the Pleasance Theatre, See Me, Scotland’s campaign to end mental health discrimination, and media partner the Scotsman.
Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts lead for the Mental Health Foundation and programmer of the annual gala show, said: “It’s striking how many more comedians are talking candidly about mental ill health at the Fringe this year. This is something we want to celebrate and encourage. Mental health is something everyone should feel able to talk about openly without shame or fear of discrimination or other negative consequences.
‘All the performers in our gala show were invited because they are exploring mental health issues in their own work, in a way that is honest, unapologetic, disarming, inclusive, and most importantly, very funny.’
Lee Knifton, head of the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said: “The Mental Health Foundation believes that everyone has the right to good mental health. Since 1949 we have been working to end mental health inequalities and we are committed to ensuring that this becomes a reality. We achieve tremendous national and international reach through our campaigns and online presence. We support the arts as they can challenge, provoke, and generate emotion, and our events engage tens of thousands of Scots each year. The arts tell us about who we are and who we can be, as individuals and communities – as well as being provocative, subversive, emotional, affirming, and fun.”
A Gala For Mental Health will take place at the Pleasance Ace Dome, 11pm, on Wednesday 17 August.
Tickets are priced £10 and are available now via the Pleasance box office on 0131-556 6550 or https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/gala-mental-health. Proceeds from the show will go to the Mental Health Foundation.
The Scotsman is the show’s media partner. You can read interviews with some of the performers in the newspaper’s daily Festival magazine, published from Saturday 6 August.