A unique live comedy show - open for one night only in Melbourne - will feature a group of first-time comedians drawn solely from Peter Mac’s community of patients, carers and staff.

“Stand-Up for Cancer” is an initiative of Peter Mac’s Wellbeing Program that will support participants to share their cancer and related experiences in a completely different way.

Participants will develop a five-minute stand-up comedy routine during a workshop led by Australian comedian Rachel Berger. Hours later they’ll deliver their material before a live audience.

Director of Prevention & Wellbeing Geri McDonald said after some tough pandemic years it was an opportunity for fun, and the workshop and comedy event would have many other benefits for those involved.

“Everybody responds to cancer differently. For some people, humour is an attractive way to process what’s happening and they want to explore new ways of talking about their cancer experience,” Ms McDonald says.

“This workshop supports Peter Mac patients, carers and staff to investigate humour as a mechanism for processing and communicating about their cancer, with expert guidance.”

Dr Maria Ftanou, Director of Psychosocial Oncology at Peter Mac, says humour can play a role in relieving stress and anxiety for patients, and could lead to better healthcare outcomes.

“A growing body of evidence in oncology suggests that for some people, humour relieves stress, reduces anxiety, facilitates improved communication with health care professionals, builds social connections and is an important strategy used to cope with the ups and downs of cancer and its treatments,” Dr Ftanou says.

Rachel Berger has been a stand-up comedian for over 30 years. Rachel will help the group to leverage the craft of storytelling, understand what makes them funny, and how to put their experiences through a comic lens.

“It’s about harnessing the transformative power of stand-up comedy to empower, to find a voice and connection through common experiences,” Ms Berger says.

The event will be held from 7pm on Thursday 7 July at Peter Mac (305 Grattan Street, Melbourne), in the Level 7 lecture theatre. Tickets are available for purchase at: www.petermac.org/events/stand-cancer.

Please note the comedy event is recommended for people aged 18+ years as language and themes may not be suitable for children.

Proceeds will support the Wellbeing Centre – which is a supportive, patient-led program at Peter Mac where patients and carers can access services such as oncology massage, art therapy, meditation and system navigation, as well as information, and emotional and physical support.


For more information contact the Peter Mac Communications team on 0417 123 048.

About Peter Mac

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is a world-leading cancer research, education and treatment centre and Australia’s only public health service solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer.