On Tuesday, Sept. 14, a modest-sized group of students gathered in FDU’s Lenfell Hall to hear comedian/motivational speaker Matt Bellace spread his message of anti-drug and alcohol use through comedy.
Bellace kept the audience interested and involved from the beginning; eight volunteers joined him on the stage within the first five minutes of his act to demonstrate teamwork. Each team of four students (boys versus girls) sat in a circle on folding chairs, laid back on each other’s laps, and had to stay standing using their combined strength and energy when Wellace pulled the chairs out from under them. The boys kept their stance up, but the girls were not so fortunate.
After trying to level with the audience – mostly by telling out of place “Jersey Shore” jokes and irrelevant stories about his mother, who was the vice principal at his school – Bellace finally started to explain his feelings regarding drugs, alcohol, and parties. Since his older brother drank all throughout high school, his mother sent him to a drug-free camp. Surprisingly, the lessons he learned there resonated with him, and he maintained his clean lifestyle all through high school and college.
Suddenly, the Montclair native transformed from comedian to motivational speaker, explaining how his college experience made headlines nationwide when he convinced Bucknell University to transform an empty building into a fraternity for non-drinkers. The new organization was called “Calvin & Hobbes.”
Bellace then branched out to explain the creation of the New Social Engine (NSE) club at FDU, which holds such as free bowling to give students alternatives to drug- and alcohol-related events. FDU is not the only school with this sort of organization on campus; Montclair State University, Drew University, and Seton Hall University also have similar substance-free groups.
In another interactive segment, Bellace asked four volunteers to leave the hall and think for a moment about their favorite hobbies that let them have fun without being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As a comedic twist, Bellace instructed the crowd to imagine that each of the volunteers was talking about kissing when they answered questions about their hobby. A volunteer who only needed a dark basement and his two hands to do his hobby had the audience bursting out laughing. Thankfully, he turned out to be a closet video game addict.
Bellace, who has been a comic for 15 years, then presented his final call to action statement to the audience: get high the natural way; and that does not mean from drugs derived from the earth. He has had the same spider plant since he was eight years old, and he gave one lucky volunteer a plant of his own for answering a movie trivia question. Bellace encouraged the audience to pursue their passions, be they spider plants, or otherwise. Another segment of Bellace’s presentation included an explanation of his love for comedy; images of a cocaine user’s brain and a brain in a laughing state shows that laughing literally gets you high – yes, the natural way.
“He was actually really funny,” a freshman in the audience said. Her friend, a non-FDU student, said Bellace’s performance hit home for her, due to a recent drug-related death.
Bellace provided several situations that get the brain to that “high” state without the assistance of drugs or alcohol. Among those activities were surfing (he once met a member of The Fray on a chance encounter at the beach), running, falling in love, or even “stalking your loved ones from low bushes.”
For those who wish to learn more about Bellace’s “natural high” philosophy and his comedy, Bellace is frequently featured on Sirius XM Radio, and his novel “A Better High” is on sale now.