I came up with the idea for the Funny Farm in 1996, but it lay dormant for years, because I didn't know what to do with it. It wasn't until a few months after I started building my website in 2004, that I put the idea to work.
I've been in the humor business for over 40 years, so when I built my website, I knew there would be plenty of humor. But, I wanted to address other important issues in all of lives, such as the environment; encouraging young people to stay in school, and good health care...both physical and mental health care.
Starting out, I had two problems. People with mental illness, are discriminated against in this society by the bigots and people of hate all the time. To go with it, these people have to bare the name-calling , the be-littling...the shame that others place on them!
Frankly, because of this, I was reluctant to open the Funny Farm, because I had the fear of getting flamed...hate mail and being discriminated against myself! Or maybe...even worse...losing my job! So, I had to proceed carefully, etc. In the piece I wrote entitled, "Discrimination Against Older Workers (Ageism) I know for a fact that ageism played a part in my downfall. So, I know if people of hate, can discriminate against age...they can discriminate against people who suffer from mental illness or people who support them, etc.
I'm going back to the Stone Age of the year 2004, and for about 6 weeks, I pondered back and forth whether or not I should go forward with the idea at all. So, I put it all on the back burner for a few weeks. The second problem I had, was that I would try to blend humor and mental illness and try to bring them together in a respectful and dignified manner. But, could I do it?
Weeks after I opened the Funny Farm, things went well, and I heard nothing from anyone, which I was amazed about. I was not flamed, and I got no emails from anyone, and I was not run out of town on a rail. It didn't happen. Isn't that a shame that, a person has to think of the consequences like this, when addressing such an important issue such as mental illness?
After about six weeks of weighing everything as to what to do, I decided to open the Funny Farm, but I would do it only in a serious manner...I would leave humor out of it. But, since I've been in the humor business most of my life, I can't help what ideas come into my mind...I can't do anything to keep the ideas out.
I got one humorous idea after another, and I got frustrated because I didn't want humor in the Funny Farm. I even considered re-naming it. The idea I thought was the funniest, was the idea to have a Funny Farm Gift Shop, and there would be colorful designer straight-jackets for sale! Other ideas came in my head as well, and I didn't know what to do.
If I went with this idea and other humorous ideas, how would I go about it? Humor can get a person in trouble if not being careful, etc. About this time, I remember an article I read years ago, where researchers have found that it is healthy for people to have the ability to laugh at themselves, at all the silly and "insane" things we all do! Humor truly is the best medicine! Because of this important fact, my decision was quick and I decided to go with the humor as well.
Now, came the problem of trying to bond the two together...humor and mental illness...and use them in the same setting? I was nervous about doing this, but I continued with the ideas...always remembering to be respectful and caring. I set off on memory lane, as I remember Sony Bono died of a skiing accident; Steve Reeves died (eventually) from a fall from a horse, etc. And, in a piece I wrote entitiled, The Seriousness of Depression, in which I talk about an elderly couple whose house burned to the ground, and their grand-children parrished in the fire! So, tragedy can happen to any of us in a matter of minutes!
I read a newspaper article recently, whereby stress and depression are at an all-time high in the work place. I believe it! A person can't make a living anymore with all the greed in the country, and people can't save for the future. I think the depression will worsen as time goes on, in my view!