Despite the bitter cold, dozens of people turned up to Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, MI for a special event benefiting The Salvation Army's Bed and Bread Club, sponsored by Michigan Financial Companies and Big Boy.  Jack Aronson, founder of Garden Fresh Gourmet donated food for the evening, and LA-based comedian Darrin Rose headlined the event after segments by Billy Ray Bauer and Steve Lind, with Ken Brown emceeing.  Iconic radio legend Dick Purtan, who over the years has raised millions of dollars for the Salvation Army through his annual Bed and Bread Radiothon, opened the evening to thank all in attendance.

We were lucky enough to interview three individuals - Mark Ridley, whose Comedy Castle has been a fixture of the Detroit area and a stop for hundreds of comedians since 1979; Jack Aronson, local entrepreneur; and Darrin Rose, a rising star in the world of standup.  We wanted to speak to these individuals to see what role laughter plays in their lives, and learn about the relationship between comedy, happiness, and depression.

Mark Ridley founded his Comedy Castle in the desire to bring joy and laughter to people for an hour or so, allowing them to forget the worries of everyday life.  "People see the comedian up on stage, and for ninety minutes, that's who they are," said Ridley.  "But the thing is, there's another twenty-three hours in a day.  This is a job for them.  In those other twenty-three hours, they're normal people with stresses and problems just like the rest of us."

"I think comedy works best out of specificity."  Darrin sat with us for a few minutes in the Green Room before the show started.  "If you share a specific experience from your life, somebody will recognize that, and that goes farther than a generalization."  Darrin talked about how that applies to the adage that "tragedy plus time equals comedy".  Some things may not be funny at the time - they may be very difficult - but with time you may be able to look back on them and laugh.  Darrin told us that his wish for young people who may be going through hard times is that they find something to hold onto, "something to focus on, and to just get them through whatever they're going through."  For him, that thing was comedy.

We wanted to get an opinion on the other side of comedy, however, so we pulled Jack Aronson aside for a moment - attending the Comedy Castle for an evening of laughs, he stepped in front of the camera not realizing just what we were going to talk about.  "These are tough questions!" he remarked.  But after he thought about it, Jack quickly dived into the subject and offered his thoughts about depression, sadness, happiness, and the impact a good comedy show can have on us all.

We are sure these in-depth interviews and insights will help us add another dimension to our film Death Is Not the Answer.  It has always been our intent not to just enlighten the subject of depression and suicide in America but to offer real solid thoughts and ideas that will help people look at the glass of life as half full.  Laughter, as Mark pointed out, is one of the greatest sources of endorphins we can offer each other.  The best part is, it's free.