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Providing the best medicine: laughter

Wednesday January 16, 2013

Laughter proved to be the best medicine as four Aboriginal comedians performed at a fundraiser show for the holidays.

Patrick Cheechoo, A.J Mandamin, Todd Genno, and headliner Ron Kanutski performed before a near sellout crowd in a show called Laughter: The Best Medicine Comedy Night, which was held Dec. 22 at the Paramount Theatre in Thunder Bay.

“I agreed to be a part of the show because I was asked by my good friend Terri Magiskan,” Kanutski said, adding that Magiskan is the traditional healing coordinator at the Anishnawbe Mushkiki clinic in Thunder Bay. “I find that laughter brings true healing as it energizes the body, heart, mind and soul simultaneously.”

Kanutski said that he realized when he engages or interacts with people, laughter brings trust and connectivity into the relationship.

“Laughter is the medicine!” Kanutski said. When the show got off to a half-hour late start, he suggested to the crowd that they were running on “Anishinabe time.”

Patrick Cheechoo opened the show to what Kanutski called a “great start for his first time on stage.”

The show itself was close to being sold out, and Kanutski was pleased with the outcome.
“Doing stand up comedy is a rush because you feed off the energy and laughs of the audience,” he said.

Kanutski said that the show had a great audience that night and he hopes for more successful shows like it in the future.

Cheechoo was followed by Mandamin, a comedian from Ottawa, then Thunder Bay’s 2012 Comic Idol winner Todd Genno took the stage.

“He pleased the crowd with his Facebook and relationship humour,” Kanutski said of Genno.
Genno was also approached by Magiskan to perform at the show.

“I jumped at the opportunity,” Genno said, adding that he was excited at the prospect of working alongside other Anishinabe comedians.

“I was also excited to try out new material.”

“I learned that laughter is a powerful medicine,” Genno explained. “It’s a natural medicine that is inside all of us. Everybody has a sense of humour, especially our Native people. We laugh at anything and anyone.”

Genno was very happy with the show.

“A lot of people came out and we all laughed together.”

Genno and Cheechoo donated their share of ticket sales to the Thunder Bay Shelter House.

“Altogether, with donations taken at the door, I brought $580.30 to the Shelter House,” Genno said. He said he felt that by donating his share he was using his gift of laughter and comedy to help out the less fortunate especially at a time like Christmas.

“I know the Shelter House will put it to good use,” he said of his donations. “I probably would have just went to yard sales with it anyway,” Genno joked.

Kanutski is looking forward to working with Anishnawbe Mushkiki again in the future. “We are exploring its possibilities and benefits,” Kanutski said.

Kanutski was the final act of the show. His 11-year-old son, Bonawbae, introduced him to the crowd by as “the most disgusting and funniest man I know, my father.”

“My son is showing an interest in comedy,” Kanutski said. “It’s amazing how as parents we provide encouragement and direction to our children. Too bad I wasn’t a doctor.”

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