Knock-Knock! Who’s There! Comedy Presents a Great Night of Laughter! on August 19 might look like an ordinary night of comedy, but for Brian Farrell, it means so much more. Farrell was walking off his semi-trailer in November 2005 when a solid oak overhead door weighing 1,000 pounds broke its safety cable and hit the top of his head, slamming his forehead into the steel dock and coming to rest on his neck. He was unaware it happened until 2016 and has only vague memories of the four years following the accident. He worked with a speech and cognitive therapy team, but after a couple of years and no signs of further progress, he was released from care.
After his recovery, he wanted to say thank you to Missey Heinrich, his speech therapist and one of the founders of Empower House Brain Injury Organization, a community for adults who have survived a brain injury, including, but not limited to, concussion, stroke, seizure, tumor or TBI in the Quad Cities area. Heinrich is credited as a key person in helping him in his recovery after his brain injury. “Missy is like the coolest person on the planet and I don’t think she realizes it’s all about her. Without her, people like me would be stuck. If it wasn’t for her, I would have this (life). I don’t think she gets how important her job is, it impacts the whole family, not just the patient.”
Farrell finds that comedy is both a way to give back and an outlet to redirect his energy. Since the comedy community was so welcoming, patient and uplifting and encouraging, he decided to organize a comedy show. “My dad and I were having a revenge game of horseshoes at West Lake and we saw Missy. She told us about Empower House, and I thought it would have been nice to have that when I was out of the hospital. I thought, one of these days I can do a comedy show. It gave me a goal.”
Going into comedy wasn’t originally in his plans. “I wanted to help others by writing a book about my experiences with brain injury and past/current mental health issues. While doing this, I would record myself due to memory issues. My father and wife would laugh while reading or watching the videos, upsetting me. I had no idea I was funny! They said I should do standup comedy to get these messages out faster and in a humorous fashion. I had no idea how hard and how much of a rewarding journey that I was about to embark on.” Farrell doesn’t think others should emulate his path, however. “I don’t think everybody should get on stage, it’s very difficult, but if there’s a message, just accept the life you have now the old one is gone. Make the best out of it. I thought I was going to write a book. I never thought this was going to end up on stage until everybody kept laughing at my book! I started following Chris Schlichting, who runs Tomfoolery on Tremont at the Renwick Mansion. On a snowy January 15, 2022, Chris was down a few comics at a show when he decided enough was enough, Brian Farrell is going up tonight! He said he was going to call me up and if I don’t go up, we both look stupid. I went up for three minutes, the scariest three minutes of my life but some of the best minutes of my life.”
Keeping Empower House’s doors open for those who need I most is important to Farrell. “I want this to stay open. There was nowhere for me to go when the insurance company was done, but there is now for those who need it.”
Hosted by Dane Moulton, Knock-Knock! Who’s There! Comedy Presents a Great Night of Laughter! features Brian Farrell, Collin Strajack, Shayne Neubert, Ashley Smrcina and Jacob Lee Downey with James Draper as the headliner. The show is described as a “family friendly adult comedy show.” The show is August 19 at the Buffalo Community Center, located at 426 Clark Street in Buffalo. Admission is $5 per person at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. There will be basket raffles and a cash bar.