Joey Elias headlines at The Atwater Club on October 19

Casual visitors at any given hospital may have occasionally heard the words ”Code Orange”( for external emergencies) or “Code Blue” ( for cardiac arrest) urgently broadcast over the intercom systems as a call to action but “Code Comedy”? What’s that?

“That’s easy” says Montreal businessman, John Archer, and volunteer fundraiser, “that’s a call to come to the Atwater Club for a night of stand-up laughter and to raise funds for a great cause!”

Code Comedy organizer John Archer

Organizer John Archer shares a joke at the 2022 inaugural event

Now in its second year, Archer gathers a coterie of comedians whom he has curated from some of the shows he has seen over the last 12 months, and puts on Code Comedy in an effort to raise funds for the Prevention and Early Intervention of Psychosis Program (PEPP) through the Montreal General Hospital Foundation. “I don’t just want to raise funds for this important program that literally saves young adult lives of those who have become untethered from reality but I also want to help stimulate a conversation around the benefits of comedy on one’s mental health! Speaking from personal experience, I know how happy I feel when I leave a great evening of comedy and I want to initiate that experience for others as well!”

Surprisingly, when Archer discusses this topic of mental health and comedy with some of the comedians he has lined up to perform, they tend to open up about their own observations on how performing comedy has helped them cope or confront some of their own personal challenges.

Take Joey Elias (Code Comedy’s headliner) as an example. For Elias, preforming standup comedy has long served him as a way to deal with his own bouts of anxiety which he experiences on a daily basis. “When I am preforming on a stage any issue or aches or pains that may have been bothering me that day simply disappears during my set.” As for his audience, Elias observes that “ a laugh now is more important than ever what with all the terrible news that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Climate change, homelessness, stabbings, you name it, we need a diversion from all of that and more and more people are choosing comedy.”

Olivia Benaroche

Olivia Benaroche is one of six comics scheduled to perform

And Elias is right. Live comedy is presently booming in Montreal. “It’s like New York City these days. On any given weekend , a young go-getter comedian can do 3-5 shows. That means about 1,000 Montrealers have chosen to see comedy as their activity on a Friday or Saturday night here. That’s impressive!” Elias proudly exclaims.

For Olivia Benaroche, another comedian scheduled to perform at Code Comedy, using humour helped her cope when she was suddenly diagnosed with APL Leukemia a few years ago. She found the news “so shocking that my comedic brain went into overdrive! I remember going through my first bone marrow biopsy which is a fairly invasive and painful procedure right through the pelvic bone. As the doctor administered the local anesthesia, I squeezed my blanket really hard and through tears of pain said, Doc! You’re a literal pain in my ass right now! I managed to get this austere, veteran doctor to chuckle. It was a healing moment.”

Benaroche attributes humour as a way that allowed her to stay positive during her medical ordeal. “You are in a terrible situation that you can’t control so all you can do is to stay positive and laugh through it. I was out of the hospital and in remission four weeks later! I can’t help but think that my comedic outlook had a lot to do with my recovery.”

Dawn Ford

Dawn Ford

Dawn Ford, also on tap for Code Comedy, lost her brother a few years ago after he was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia late in life. “I spent many hours at the hospital visiting him at the Montreal General Hospital and in conversations with nurses and doctors. I feel him with me at every performance. Doing stand-up has helped me deal with grief even if I don’t address it in my set.”

So, perhaps it’s true, when they say ‘laughter is the best medicine’? Whether you need a dose of comedy for all that ails you or simply to end your day on a happy note, head to Code Comedy on October 19th at the Atwater Club. According to Archer “ Laughs are one hundred per cent guaranteed!”

Code Comedy starring Joey Elias, Olivia Benaroche, Dawn Ford, Raajiee Chelliah, Nazeer Khan and Ben Cardilli will take place on Thursday October 19, 7:30pm at The Atwater Club, 3505 Atwater Avenue, Montreal. Tickets are available at

Can’t make the show but would like to still donate and support the cause? Please visit: and search Code Comedy.