“I gave up on suicide a long time ago,” says Harrison Wheeler, the Hamilton-based cartoonist, author, and comedian, “I’m more interested in homicide now. My jokes kill.” Harrison’s newest show is part comedy, all honesty, called RETROSPECULATION; a tell-all recovery story from mental illness and addiction. It’s stand-up comedy meets TED talks, and it can’t be missed.
At 24 years of age, Harrison Wheeler had a psychotic break and was diagnosed with Bipolar, and that sent his life in an entirely different direction. Mental hospitals, therapists, dead-end jobs, and addictions riddle his story. Luckily for him, he kept a record of his experiences through creative journaling ~ drawing, writing, scrapbooking ~ and now, 15 years later, he’s ready to share where his journey through the dark labyrinth of mental illness took him, and what he’s learned.
Harrison has spent nearly two years of his life in hospitals. Bipolar is an extremely scary condition that is brutally hard to manage, but the artist maintains his support network, health professionals, nutrition, exercise, and his creativity kept him optimistic. RETROSPECULATION is a show about looking back in order to move forward, and how journaling can serve as a personal road map.
This is a companion piece to Wheeler’s critically acclaimed one-man show, JESTERS INCOGNITO, which premiered at the Hamilton Fringe last summer. “The reaction to my show was crazy…pun intended,” Harrison joked, “and people continually email me to find out more about my life, and learn more about mental illness. The issue isn’t taboo anymore, and it’s time we talked about it. Recovery is possible.”
It’s the comedy that makes the topic approachable, and audiences love this performer’s unique blend of blunt honesty and absurdity. You can see some of his stand up here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_S08rB2IpE
There are two shows during Mental Health Awareness Week.
7pm on Monday, May 4th at St. Joseph’s West 5th Campus Auditorium (100 West 5th Ave)
8pm on Friday, May 8th at the Staircase Theatre (27 Dundurn St. N.)