Gina Brillon is a Puerto Rican actress, humorist, author, and mother born and raised within the Bronx. In 2012, she grew to become the primary and solely Latina winner of NBC’s Stand Up for Range Showcase. She went on to launch comedy specials on NuvoTV, HBO, and Amazon Prime. She has appeared on “The View,” “Late Evening With Seth Meyers,” and “Jimmy Kimmel Dwell,” and was the primary Latina comic to be a finalist in season 16 of “America’s Bought Expertise.”

For Psychological Well being Consciousness Month, we requested Latine comedians and creators we admire how comedy has supported them in overcoming trauma and confronting life’s most important challenges. Learn the items right here.

We do not discuss sufficient in regards to the therapeutic powers of humor. The outdated saying, “laughter is the most effective medication,” as cliché as it could be, truly has numerous reality to it. I realized in regards to the energy of laughter at a comparatively younger age. In Latino households, we frequently use humor to heal from traumas and hardships. It helps us get by means of a lot. At dwelling, we made jokes about every thing from the federal government, cheese we ate, to the broke, child video games we performed. I enormously touched on this in my Amazon Prime particular, “The Ground is Lava.”

My childhood was good however got here with its fair proportion of struggles. Cash troubles have been actual, and I bear in mind us being on meals stamps at one level. We had our difficult occasions, however we someway all the time managed to search out alternatives to snort about it. It was a type of, “for those who do not snort, you will cry” kind conditions. However it wasn’t till I misplaced my grandmother that I spotted the momentary aid a very good snort can convey, even within the face of loss and grief.

I say this on a regular basis, however my grandmother is the whole cause why I made a decision to pursue a profession as a humorist. I used to be most likely across the age of 8 or 9 after I realized I had a present for making individuals snort. It was additionally round that age that it actually hit me how therapeutic laughter could possibly be. As soon as I spotted I might make somebody snort, it grew to become a mission to make these round me snort as a result of I beloved the enjoyment I received out of it. My grandmother was the primary grown-up within the household who observed I used to be humorous. She would inform my mother issues like, “Your daughter is gifted. She’s going to be on TV at some point,” and I slowly began to imagine her.

For some time, I saved the jokes for the household. I used to be this loopy, humorous child at dwelling, however I used to be way more reserved each time I used to be in public. As a child, I used to be self-conscious as a result of I used to be the chubby, humorous lady. So, if I did not know you want that, I would not try and make you snort as a result of I used to be already too insecure. The truth is, friends and schoolmates who knew me rising up have been stunned after I grew to become a humorist. They all the time thought I used to be humorous, however in addition they thought I used to be shy as a result of I used to be rising up. I used to be by no means the category clown. However I used to be the child who was all the time fast with a joke. If I noticed a joke someplace, I might say it rapidly earlier than anybody else might say it first.

My grandma was most likely one of many hardest ladies I’ve ever met — to this present day. This was my grandma on my maternal aspect. She lived with us and handed away after I was 16, however a big chunk of my childhood was spent round this lady whom I completely adored. She got here to New York from Puerto Rico and by no means actually realized English like that, however the English she managed to be taught was from watching “I Love Lucy.” That is after I began understanding how a lot my grandma appreciated comedic aid. As soon as I realized that, I made it some extent all the time to crack her up.

My grandmother wasn’t a simple lady to make snort. She was powerful, and he or she was severe. She additionally hated pranks. However she beloved silliness. One thing about silliness allowed her to melt and absolutely convey down her guard — no matter what she was going by means of on the time. I began to check her humorousness and supplied her with the silliness I knew she loved. When my grandmother laughed, she laughed along with her complete being. She exuded absolute pleasure — it introduced out one other aspect of her that I appreciated at a younger age. That grew to become our greatest approach of connecting — making her snort.

However after I was round 11, my grandmother’s well being started to say no. She would get cuts and bruises randomly. She began experiencing physique aches extra typically. I knew she wasn’t the identical after I began noticing my mother needed to bathe her every day. That was laborious for me as a result of I grew up seeing this robust lady who by no means needed to be a burden discovering herself in such a susceptible place. I nearly did not know how you can join along with her anymore. My siblings have been fast to assist in taking good care of her bodily, however I used to be by no means snug doing that. It was laborious for me to witness her at her weakest.

Throughout that point, I spotted that the most effective medication I needed to supply her was laughter. On her hardest days, I made positive to make her snort, and he or she continuously inspired me to make a profession out of it at some point. My grandma was my first comedy viewers and the primary one who actually believed in me, so when she handed, I advised God that I might pursue a profession in comedy.

I knew it was coming as a result of I by no means heard the worry on this lady’s voice like that earlier than. I bear in mind pondering to myself, that is it. My mother advised me to go to mattress, however I could not. I requested if I might go to the lavatory, and as quickly as I walked in there, I opened the window, fell to my knees, and began to hope. I bear in mind the primary phrases out of my mouth have been, “God, I do know tonight you take my grandma.” I advised God that from that second on, any time I make someone snort, it will be in honor of my grandmother. And if I ever do something in comedy, it is going to all the time be for her. The subsequent morning, she was gone.

It was a tough season for my household — significantly my mother. It took some time earlier than it felt acceptable, however I slowly began to make use of humor to assist myself and the remainder of the household get by means of it. Even on the funeral, as tough because it was, there have been little moments the place the household would joke and roast one another, and it was therapeutic. We allowed ourselves to grieve and to cry. However we additionally discovered alternatives to snort and smile in reminiscence of my grandmother.

To this present day, each single time I step on stage, I consider my grandmother. I actually really feel her power with me each time. I can really feel her within the room watching me. I am all the time like, “Did you see that, grandma? Did you see what I simply did? Did you prefer it?”

Each milestone has been devoted to her, from my first 20-minute particular for HBO’s “Entre Nos” to after I did my first one-hour particular “Pacifically Talking,” my Amazon Prime particular “The Ground Is Lava,” to even after I was on “America’s Bought Expertise.” My sister, who is admittedly massive into the religious aspect of issues, all the time tells me that my grandma is all the time with me. I imagine that all of us have a counsel of people who find themselves meant to take care of us on this life, and I imagine we select them. I selected my grandmother, and I selected George Carlin — my favourite comic rising up. I actually imagine he is a part of the souls watching over me to the purpose the place each time I stroll into Gotham Comedy Membership, I give a salute to his photograph.

Not solely has comedy gotten me by means of each tough circumstance I’ve skilled on this life, from heartache to loss, but it surely has additionally helped me discover myself. It reworked a younger, insecure lady into essentially the most assured she has ever been. It gave me the flexibility to attach with individuals, the primary one being my grandmother. Comedy has allowed me to assist others heal due to the best way it has helped me heal in my very own methods. It’s my longest relationship on this life and my most cherished one.

— As advised to Johanna Ferreira

Johanna Ferreira is the content material director for POPSUGAR Juntos. With greater than 10 years of expertise, Johanna focuses on how intersectional identities are a central a part of Latine tradition. Beforehand, she spent shut to 3 years because the deputy editor at HipLatina, and he or she has freelanced for quite a few retailers together with Refinery29, O Journal, Attract, InStyle, and Properly+Good. She has additionally moderated and spoken on quite a few panels on Latine identification.