FOR WHOM THE SAD BELL TOLLS: THIS WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY, MEET MISTER BOB BRIAN.

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We dearly love the artist Rob Ryan. We really do. Truth be told, I find his stuff so moving and unabashedly sentimental that I’ve been known to weep when faced with too many of his paper-cut poems in one go. A friend once had to physically extract me from Ryantown because it was all so romantic I thought I was going to pop.

Some friends and I got to thinking what MisterRob’s work would look like if you sprinkled a bit of um, realism over it…for realism, read clinical depression. Something all too common, but that’s only just becoming ok to admit… thanks to initiatives like World Mental Health Day. These days the Sad bell rings for 1 in 4 of us. Which is how we ended up with this curmudgeonly old bastard, Mister Bob Brian.

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Dreamed up by my childhood BFF and I, Lauren Taylor, Danni Emery and illustrated by Graeme McGregor we bring you this loving, cutting pastiche. Paper-cuts from a world that’s glass half empty. More here at misterbobbrian.tumblr.com

We first made these a few years ago, and were lucky to get a lot of praise from the internet but in re-launching them for World Mental Health Day as part of our new cause-driven comedy page, I can see that looking back I can see that whilst they were funny AF to make, at least one of the artists behind it was struggling with an ‘inner Bob’ of our own. I certainly was. Perhaps a reaction to the perky, excessively whimsical perky Ryanny idealism of our twenties, and the Voice of Doom, pessimistic grumpelstiltskin Briannyness of our thirties. Perhaps the Rob Ryan bell of hope was being drowned out by the Bob Brian cacophony of doom. 

But now, 5 years on – wiser, wrinklier, we’ve found our way out – through the mediums of art, in its many guises. Much like the aims behind this brilliant new initiative MADE OF MILLIONS, launching tomorrow. We all walk a daily line between choosing to focus on the clouds or the suns rays. Or trying to be someone’s rainbow… I think Bob runs in my family a bit. Just this week, my siblings and I were teasing one of our family members about needing to invest in a ‘Doom Jar’ so that every time they felt the urge to utter something pessimistic, they’d have to put a coin in. (proceeds to CALM, or MIND). And what happened? We all laughed our heads off.  

Because that’s the one big thing we’ve learned – myself and my co-writer Em have both found that the only way out is through laughter. Every time something bad happens to us, we have a routine now. Ring each other and tell the story. Then there’s a 30 sec pause while we go ‘c’mon, let’s find the joke. Where’s the joke, Lol? Then. There it is! Next thing, we’re roaring with laughter. Feeling less alone. Crying happy tears again. For us, comedy is alchemy. The other side of a coin marked tragedy. Shit happens. Then, skit happens.

So in honour of Trevor Griffiths’ words, ‘Comedy is medicine. Not coloured sweeties to rot the teeth with’ we set up Melon Comedy. A cause-powered comedy collective, specialising in silly films about melancholy things. From Ghosting, to mental illness to Plastic pollution. Oh, and Mister Bob.

Follow/Subscribe/LOL at fb.com/meloncomedy 

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