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NewsMay 13, 2022

Expressive Arts Therapy senior finds laughter is the best medicine

Meghan Plourde ’22 finds healing through stand-up comedy

Illustration of Meghan Plourde on a stage doing stand up.
Illustration by Daniel Serrano ’22

By Georgia Sparling

As a teenager, when Meghan Plourde ’22 imagined herself as a cast member on NBC’s “SNL,” she was never the one writing the skits. That changed this year.

While Plourde isn’t planning to meet with Lorne Michaels anytime soon, she has begun to write and perform her own comedy routines, which she sees as an extension of her major in Expressive Arts Therapy and an untapped pathway to healing.

The Lowell, Massachusetts, native dipped her toe in comedy writing as part of a course with Professor Liv Cummins. When Plourde, who minored in psychology, initially told her family about the class, they didn’t get it. But comedy is a tool she’s long employed to face hard things, and in her future as a counselor, she believes it could aid her practice. After all, isn’t laughter the best medicine?

“The way I cope is making jokes about the situation,” she says, and the past four years have been tough.

Plourde lists sexual assault, the loss of three family members and her mother’s struggles with cystic fibrosis among the hardships she experienced during her undergraduate career. So, when it came time to write her own five-minute bit for Cummins’s class, she had material.

One story rose to the top. During the funeral of a beloved aunt, the solemn service was suddenly punctuated by a cell phone ringing to the tune of “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore. Maybe you recall the catchy, expletive-laced song about thrift store shopping. If not, suffice it to say, it’s irreverent.

“Naturally, I had to make a stand-up show about it,” says Plourde.

Joking about the event was cathartic, so she wrote two more “tight fives” that plumbed painful experiences: one about her struggles with depression and another about her mother’s illness.

“I can take this really sad thing that happened and sit and wallow with it the rest of my life, or I can flip it and turn it into something that will make me laugh, will make other people laugh and will actually bring me joy,” she says.

Plourde says this form of edgy, self-deprecating humor goes “real deep in our generation.” Yet, she’s not looking to go full Dave Chappelle with her comedy. The fledgling comic says she knows her audience, who, so far, have been her peers.

Plourde performed her initial stand-up act for her comedy class, and all three bits at Community of Scholars — a Lesley-wide day of academic and research presentations.

She’s also branched out into songwriting, performing four original songs for her Expressive Art Therapy senior capstone project. Those, too, infuse Plourde’s brand of comedy and loss with one song titled “Liquor, I hardly knew her” and another about the death of a different family member.

Plourde, who plans to take a year off before diving into her master’s degree, admits she’s not yet ready to perform outside of her community, but she plans to keep writing jokes. There’s just so much material.

“I go through life and think ‘that would make a great comedy bit.’”

See more inspiring stories from the Class of 2022