My PD Story

Chris Cluff headshot
People with PD

Chris Cluff

I had just begun to live my dream of being a stand-up comedian when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). The physical signs of the disease were present for over a year, but I just ignored them until I couldn’t any longer.

I was used to doing a lot of fun things. I taught yoga more than 40 years, and I enjoyed skiing as a hobby. Unfortunately, as my Parkinson’s symptoms progressed, even those activities were suddenly too much for my body to handle. I became extremely depressed and realized I needed to find an outlet for my emotions.

I happily discovered that laughter was my best friend. I started to take improv classes, which led to performing and teaching as well. When it came to my stand-up comedy, I realized I could use comedy to talk about Parkinson’s disease and share my story with others. I feel strong and whole when on stage, and making people laugh feels amazing! I wish I could extract the magic that comedy puts in my veins and share it with other people living with PD!

Chris Cluff with group

Since I wanted to share my comedy with members of the PD community, I decided to produce a stand-up comedy show benefitting the Parkinson’s Foundation. The show starred three of the top headlining comedians in the state of Arizona… and me!

We had a great crowd and I helped them see that Parkinson’s can also be treated with humor. I told them that I have a different relationship with my doctor these days. He doesn’t just say, “How are you doing?” — he asks, “What’s shaking?”

The event turned out well and was a lot of fun. The comedians did not disappoint; we all got in lots of healing laughter. Quite literally, comedy and performing has kept me alive. As long as I can get up on that stage, I will keep making laughter my way of giving back.

Have a unique idea for engaging with the PD community? Create your own fundraiser.

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