Comedy and Cancer

Comedy and Cancer

Current Project


Comedy and Cancer is a collaboration between the School of Dramatic Arts’ Comedy Program and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Adolescent and Young Adult Program to bring comedy workshops and performance events to the AYA community.

A comedy troupe that formed from a series of workshops in its first year will continue its work by offering performances and workshops addressing current societal and healthcare needs such as building community, self-empowerment, and coping with illness through laughter and creative outlets to patients, hospital staff, and caregivers. Current undergraduate students will also participate in the shows and lead exercises, as they study the role of comedy and its social impact.

The isolation and complex emotions brought on by a cancer diagnosis and treatment, especially for young people and those who care for them, are well-documented, as is the role humor can play in addressing their needs of community and coping. In Psychology Today, Marilyn Mendoza, PhD, writes, “Humor has a way of putting everything in perspective and, as such, it reduces our fears. It helps us to put some distance between ourselves and the difficult things we confront.”


  • Create a supportive, joyful environment in which program participants can play and experiment with using comedy as a tool for building community, self-empowerment, and coping with illness. 
  • Bring patients together with their medical providers, caregivers, and the healthcare community to experience a sense of solidarity in a spirited space. 
  • Experiment with and evaluate the effect of using comedy practice and performance for a better quality of life in cancer patients, their caregivers, and their medical providers.