Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a new department highlighting ways members of the otolaryngology community spend their (often limited) spare time, the time spent “after 7 pm.” Here, we will spotlight our colleagues’ passions outside the practice of medicine, and get a closer look at the varied interests and talents our community possesses.
Explore this issue:May 2018
William Reisacher, MD, an associate professor in the department of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, has always enjoyed making people laugh. “I also like being up on a stage in front of an audience, so stand-up comedy was the perfect way to combine those two activities,” he said.
Dr. Reisacher finds immense importance in his interests outside of the office to help relieve stress and feed the creative part of his mind. In addition to activities such as running and songwriting, he has been performing stand-up comedy for the past 10 years.
Feeling the “Bug”
His first experience with stand-up comedy was during a fundraising event for his child’s school at a local comedy club in New York City. The school was looking for parents to get up on stage and perform a 10-minute set. “[That] sounds like a short amount of time, but it can feel like an eternity when your jokes are not that funny!”
“Even though my first few minutes on stage felt like a near-death experience, I really enjoyed the energy that I felt up there and was determined to try it again,” he said. “So, I did some open mic nights, and made sure my jokes were funnier.” Then, he started performing regularly and improving his craft.
“From that point, I was hooked!” he said.
Most of Dr. Reisacher’s jokes are not about medicine; he categorizes them as funny experiences he thinks others will relate to. Ideas for jokes often come to him while he’s taking a break from work—while he’s walking down the street or taking a shower.
“After finishing a hard day in the office or operating room, practicing a 15-minute comedy set is a great way to unwind,” he added. The shows he performs are in the evening, so they don’t interfere with his busy work schedule.
Some guy called me a professional nose-picker, so I said, ‘That snot funny!’ —William Reisacher
Dr. Reisacher said that stand-up comedy isn’t very different from seeing patients in the office. “In both cases, I’m trying to make a personal connection and help someone feel better than they did before,” he added. To do this, he said he has to be “in the moment,” and focusing completely on the energy coming from the patient or the audience member and not allowing himself to be distracted.