From a very young age, my husband and I have made a concerted effort to instill fundamental values and guiding principles in our daughter that will ideally help her become a person of integrity as she grows up. Share. Take turns. Help those in need. Another maxim is to treat others as one would want to be treated, often referred to as the “Golden Rule.” One person who makes a habit of practicing that tenet is professional comedian Dobie Maxwell, and today I’d like to share his story with you.
Dobie was not expecting a type 2 diabetes diagnosis on Father’s Day, 2011. “It totally took me by surprise,” he said. “Nobody in my immediate family has ever had diabetes. It was a life changing experience, to say the least. As comedians, we drive 500 miles and we don’t do a lot of heavy exercises, just lift the microphone. I didn’t realize how poor my diet was until my diagnosis. Over the next several months, through diet and exercise, I lost weight. I don’t drink sodas anymore. That’s made a big difference.”
Since his diagnosis, Dobie occasionally works diabetes into his comedy routines. “While diabetes is not always a funny thing, if I can get some laughs out of it, humor can calm people,” he said. “Diabetes can be pretty delicate to talk about, so I’ve learned how to edge around it. In certain situations, when it has been apropos, it has gone over really well. To me, humor can help you to deal with it better. It can be really comforting and put a different perspective on it. I’m glad I can try to help people deal with it in a positive way.”
Based on teachings from his grandfather while growing up, Dobie firmly believes in the maxim of treating others as he would want to be treated. “If someone called me up and asked if I would do a walk for someone for awareness, I would say yes,” he said. “I would want it done for me. I’ve always been one to volunteer for charity causes whenever I can. If they have a fundraiser, I’ll donate my time and do a comedy show. I usually take more than I give in those kinds of situations. I have never once regretted donating myself for charity.”
With this thought in mind, Dobie recently participated in an American Diabetes Association Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes® event. He enjoyed the chance to spend time with other people impacted by diabetes. “I heard a lot of stories that day about how people’s lives changed after their diagnoses,” he said. “We talked about how we didn’t even know what a carbohydrate was until we were diagnosed and now it’s the first thing we do; we read all the labels of everything we eat. I exchanged stories with people I didn’t even know. In a weird way, living with diabetes develops a kinship with strangers. They’re strangers, but they have similar diabetes needs, so they feel like friends immediately.”
The walk also provided an opportunity to raise awareness among Dobie’s friends. “I invited some people to join me in the walk that were not diagnosed with type 2,” he said. “It was so funny because a mile into the four-mile walk, there were people with their tongues sticking out and they were tired. They asked, ‘Are we done yet?’ and I said, ‘No, we’ve got a long way to go.’ A lot of people were not in shape, so hopefully this will turn them around to get in physical shape.”
Dobie encourages others to donate their time to worthy causes. “It really isn’t hard to do,” he said. “There’s always a need for it. If you pick up the phone or send out an email offering to volunteer, 999 times out of 1,000, I think they’ll call you back and say they can use you. Just seek out the opportunities and show up when they tell you.”
Another way Dobie gives back is by teaching classes in standup comedy. “When I started as a comedian, not a lot of people helped me out,” he said. “I had to figure it out for myself. But I thought, I can at least teach people what to do on stage. Over the years, it’s been an absolutely fantastic experience. It’s the best thing I ever did. I’m trying to meld my diabetes diagnosis with my comedy teaching, make it a little funnier and make everybody feel good. That’s my goal.”
In his line of work, Dobie appreciates a good laugh. “You know what makes me laugh out loud? Little kids, 5 years old and under,” he said. “They’re pure. They’re real. They’ll do things that aren’t logical that are funny. To me, it’s the surprise that makes the laughter. Kids will do anything for a laugh. They’ll eat a crayon. They’ll wear a weird thing as a hat. Every successful comedian on stage, the child is out. It helps to get back in touch with your inner kid. Watching little kids, I absolutely love that pure energy; that’s what makes me laugh.”
As the parent of a first grader, I can attest to the power of kids to elicit chuckles and downright belly-laughs. Often times, when our daughter is the cause of a good belly-laugh, my husband and I actually leave the room so that she does not think we are laughing “at” her. Using comedy as a way to reach out and help others is a no-brainer. The world definitely needs more laughter! Living compassionately is another way to help bring a smile to someone’s face. I’d love to hear what makes you laugh in the comments section below. My thanks to Dobie for sharing his story.
All the best,
Disclosures: Dobie Maxwell received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.
Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes is a registered service mark of the American Diabetes Association, Inc.