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S4 Episode 53

S4E53: with Shari Short - Laughter is the Best Medicine


Shari Short is a patient advocate, a professional in healthcare communications and naturally, a standup comedian. As Senior Director of Insights and Strategy at Bionical Solutions, she has over 20 years of experience in patient education from behavior change to clinical trial recruitment. A developmental psychologist by training, Shari has held positions with the National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control, Virginia Department of Health, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and various healthcare marketing firms. Shari received her M.A. in developmental psychology from Columbia University Teachers College.

Shari has been living with Multiple Sclerosis for 14 years. As a Patient Advocate, Shari has shared insights from living with Multiple Sclerosis to the New Jersey statewide advocacy committee of the National MS Society as well as written for their national magazine, Momentum. She incorporated her experience with MS into a sold-out one-woman show called “It’s My Mother’s MS, I just Have It” and a satire letter series from “The Crazy Cane Lady”. Shari has been featured on multiple podcasts. She has been performing standup comedy since her teen years (read: the 80s) and has opened for performers such as Shawn Colvin and Sandra Bernhard.

Click here to view the episode transcript



  • Welcome to the program, Shari, and thanks so much for joining us on Living Well with MS. 
  • You have a very eclectic background, from standup comedy to developmental psychology. Can you tell us a bit about how that all ties together and has helped you forge your current path focused on behavior change?
  • We know humor is important to you, an essential part of your personal and even professional identity. And we’ll dig into that in a moment. But first, I’d like to understand your experience with MS. Can you give us a bit of an intro to that, anything you feel comfortable sharing?
  • Was there a point when you developed a philosophy or even a methodology for using humor to cope with some of the challenges of MS? Can you tell our audience about that journey?
  • You’ve produced a lot of humorous output about MS. Some notable things to mention (incidentally links to many of these can be found in the show notes, so I encourage everyone to have a look): a one woman show called “On My Nerves”; a satirical piece for Momentum, the National MS Society magazine; presentations at the University of Pennsylvania; various podcast appearances, including this one. Do any of these stand out for you, and if so, how?
  • I understand that humor has personally helped you deal with scary situations, reframe your current physical abilities, and not take yourself too seriously. How transferable are these “benefits” to the broader MS community, and how would you advise people who don’t have the same organic relationship with humor that you do tap into them?
  • How do you overcome the discomfort some people may feel when you apply a humorous or jokey spin to a “serious” topic such as MS?
  • There’s a principle I understand you have called “laughing on purpose”. Can you tell us a little more about that?
  • So I’m getting the sense that humor can be many things as applied to MS: a coping tool, a teaching tool, or even a defense mechanism. What’s your best advice for how Joe Q. Public with MS can harness humor to its maximum positive advantage? 
  • Thanks so much for being our guest on Living Well with MS, Shari. We are thrilled to learn about the amazing work you’re doing to help people with MS ease their burdens and get the most out of life using humor. And I encourage everyone to learn more about you and your work by checking out the links and more in our show notes for this episode. Thanks again, Shari.


  • Connect with Shari on LinkedIn
  • Read Shari’s humorous piece in Momentum Magazine, the official magazine of the National MS Society
  • Check out Shari’s satirical take on pharma marketing
  • Here’s a collection of Shari’s videos connected to the 2021 Tody Awards
  • Check out selections from Shari’s 2011 one-woman show, “It’s My Mother’s MS, I Just Have It” – clip 1 and clip 2

Coming up next:

Starting June 27, please join us for the 33rd installment of our Living Well with MS Coffee Break series. On this journey into the lives of our global OMS community, we have a special surprise for you – a mystery guest. Their location won’t be disclosed until the episode because you’d likely guess who it is it were. But we assure you that you’ll relish some of the behind-the-scenes details of this person’s life and OMS journey. 

Don’t miss out:

Subscribe to this podcast and never miss an episode. You can catch any episode of Living Well with MS here or on your favorite podcast listening app. For your convenience, a full episode transcript is also available on all platforms within 72 hours of each episode’s premiere. If you like our program, don’t be shy and leave a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you tune into the show. And feel free to share your comments and suggestions for future guests and episode topics by emailing [email protected].