Clay Nikiforuk: Fun to Be Around

Fun to be Around is an authentic, no-holds-barred narrative about triumphing over psychosis. This well-written, thought-provoking show is an honest account, as Clay shares her personal experience of ‘coming back from the edge’. An animated delivery and witty one-liners hold the audience spellbound.

An honest account of ‘coming back from the edge’.

Clay is a relaxed and confident performer, even when sharing the most personal of stories about her journey through psychosis and the Canadian mental health system. She makes herself vulnerable on stage, without creating unease amongst the audience.

Black humour helps her deal with her diagnosis; "I could turn it into schizophrenia, if I applied myself." Clay describes psychosis as akin to "your brain being awake AND dreaming, at the same time." Regular titters of recognition ripple through the audience, as subjects ranging from "being too busy to be bonkers", to the reclamation of the word "bitch" are discussed, punctuated with stand-up style punchlines.

The pros and cons of being on anti-psychotic medication are weighed up; they are likened to "a chemical lobotomy" which may help to reduce hallucinations, yet they also reduce your ability to keep hold of your phone, keys, childhood memories and sex drive. An incredulous doctor enquires which is more important; ‘happiness’ or sex?!

The quest to use therapy, in preference to drugs, is explored where choosing the right therapist is compared to Tinder dating: find out how being "well spoken with an extensive vocabulary" can hinder your progress through the mental health system. See the show to discover how the ‘right’ therapist assisted Clay, on the road away from medication.

From identifying as strategically bisexual, in order to procure drug-dealer boyfriends, to an intensive meditation retreat, Clay tries numerous strategies, until she reaches an epiphany moment. Clay recounts a tale of childhood friendship in an attempt to find a possible root of her psychosis.

Clay’s episode of swine flu is likened to having psychosis: they both make you see things, want to die and you are certain that you will. Except that the former is contagious, so the Canadian health care system will expedite your treatment. Clay muses over the implications of ‘infectious’ mental illness; how would treatment models differ?

Find out how a visit to a friend in a psychiatric ward motivated Clay to ‘come out’ as having mental health issues. Clay wishes to end the stigma surrounding discussion of mental illness; she issues forth a manifesto where a safe place, with friendly and dependable people can increase your chance of recovery. She rejects the notion that mental illness can stop you from being fun to be around.

Regardless of your personal experience of the subject matter in the show, audiences should see Fun to be Around in order to learn more about life with psychosis and how we all can help to reduce stigma around mental illness and support each other.

Reviews by Annabel Pribelszki

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★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Through interwoven stories of family, childhood, modern loneliness, queerness, tragedy and friendship in unusual places, the tale of Clay's early twenties spent battling psychosis unravels. With honesty, heart and plenty of punchlines, Fun to Be Around kicks stigma in the shins and proposes a revolution or three. What if there are no bad brains? What if we can prevent insanity before it happens? Expect satire, near-death experiences (hers, not yours) and deeply misguided greeting cards.