'Chasing the laughter': Local comedian and mental health advocate releases new musical comedy album

Ian Morrison is working on his next project after the release of his 4th album as "General Spanky." (David Prisciak/CTV News)

Ian Morrison has made it his mission in life to make people laugh.

The Regina comedian and mental health advocate founded the non-profit Healing Through Humour in 2010. Its mission is to help break down the stigma of mental illness through laughter. The organization holds comedy classes and offers comedians with mental illnesses the chance to hone and perfect their craft in a safe environment.

Morrison himself suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, and credits comedy as being his coping mechanism. He just released his 4th album using his musical alter ego, “General Spanky.”

“It was a way for me to cope with those feelings and that illness through laughter,” he said. “I decided to take the kind of weird thoughts in my head or the things that aren’t that useful, or even scary, and turn them into something that is useful, like a joke to make people laugh. Thus, taking the power out of the negative thing that you were thinking or feeling and using it as an outlet to relieve that stress.”

Morrison says that the comedy albums were another artistic outlet for him as well as a way to further advertise Healing Through Humour and the work they do.

“I just wanted to give something silly to someone that gives them a little giggle or just enters their life in some way which is a pretty effective piece of art.”

General Spanky has allowed Morrison to experiment with several different genres. His latest album includes rock, metal, and punk inspired tracks as well as parodies of iconic songs such as Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. Morrison’s version humorously tells the story of an ill-fated voyage of an “Old Submarine.”

The reason for the diverse sounds and genres Morrison experiments with is so he can reach the maximum amount of people with his comedy.

“We’re just trying to give people at least one song most people could like,” he said. “And that’s what I’ve always tried to think of it like, because I want to make you laugh as many times as I can, even if it was only twice throughout the whole album. That’s still two laughs.”

Morrison explained that comedians are always in a chase when the perform.

“It’s called ‘chasing the laughter’ and that’s what comedians do, they chase after that laughter because having a room full of people who respond to your joke is a feeling you’re not going to be able to recreate any other way.”

Morrison is proud of the work Healing Through Humour has done with their clients, and is glad to see that the overall Regina comedy scene has only grown since he started working in the position over a decade ago.

“It’s gotten way bigger and people are setting up shows and different stuff like that, and I’ve been very happy and impressed to see that they’re doing their thing, we’re doing our thing, and we’re all just after the same goal, which is chasing that laughter.”

All of General Spanky’s albums can be found on Apple Music and iTunes.