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Community COVID-19 Alumni Students

Best Medicine During a Pandemic? How About Some Laughter?

School of Medicine alumnus and comedian Brad Nieder delivers much-needed dose of humor at CU Anschutz alumni event

Author Blair Ilsley | Publish Date December 8, 2020
What You Need To Know

The fall cultural event hosted by the CU Medical Alumni Association and CU Anschutz Alumni featured comedian and University of Colorado School of Medicine alumnus Brad Nieder. With over 200 alumni watching via Zoom, there was no shortage of smiles and laughter as the comedian cracked medical-themed jokes

The stress and uncertainty of the pandemic continues to take a toll on front-line workers, many of whom are CU Anschutz alumni. To lighten moods and brighten spirits, the CU Medical Alumni Association and CU Anschutz Alumni co-hosted comedian Brad Nieder on Dec. 2.

“We were looking for a way to bring not just University of Colorado School of Medicine alumni, but all CU Anschutz alumni, students, faculty, and staff together for an enjoyable and engaging experience,” said Vanessa Duran, associate director in the CU Anschutz Alumni office . “While we are all experiencing the pandemic differently, we know that everyone could benefit from some laughter.” 

‘Not your typical Zoom meeting’

Nieder, who graduated from the CU School of Medicine in 2000, stood in front of a desk in his house, sharply dressed in a button-down blazer. “This will not be your typical Zoom meeting,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of laughter. I can’t believe there are over 200 attendees. I thought I would be up Anschutz creek with this event!” 

Editor's note: Photos are publicity

shots taken mostly at Brad Nieder's

pre-pandemic performances.

Attendees included alumni from schools and colleges across the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Energy was high as the virtual audience was prompted to unmute themselves, share their laughter and annotate the slides Nieder presented. From that moment forward, the show warmed with collaborative giggles. 

‘Laughter: it’s better than placebo!’

Nieder’s hour-long routine focused on medicine, and it highlighted the importance of laughter as medicine.

“Who knows how many times a day we are laughing as adults?” Nieder asked the audience. “The average is about 10. Preschoolers, on the other hand, laugh about 400 times a day. What happened? We’re adults. We got into healthcare; we have to deal with electronic health records. And now, a pandemic.”

Studies show that stress-related mental health conditions have risen due to the fear of contracting COVID-19 and our drastic change in lifestyle. Continuing to laugh and smile during a pandemic may feel incompatible, but it boasts the physiological benefits of relaxing muscles, improving blood flow and improving immune systems. 

“People who laugh a lot feel up to eight years younger and consequently live longer,” said Nieder. “It’s important to remember that there’s still humor and absurdity – even in a pandemic. That even in the worst of circumstances, we can still laugh.”

To watch a recording of the webinar, please visit the CU Anschutz Alumni YouTube page.