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Newmarket native makes hay out of co-parenting

Melanie Crawford has taken a tragic event in her life and turned it into a one-of-a-kind motivational comedy show, after being left with a traumatic brain injury when she was hit by a drunk driver 22 years ago, when she was just 19.

Melanie Crawford is relentless, and proud of it.

The Newmarket native and mother of four was hit by a drunk driver 22 years ago, when she was just 19. Crawford suffered a traumatic frontal lobe brain injury in that accident, which affected her critical thinking and problem-solving skills, impulse control, and more.

“It was weird that I had to learn to think again, to build a personality again,” Crawford said. “After the accident, I had no filter, still don’t, and that makes me a candidate for being funny.”

How she surpassed a grave diagnosis in the early days, which due to the nature of her closed-head injury went undetected for more than two years, is now fodder for her comedy acts. Crawford was told she would never work again and wasn't trainable. A bout of homelessness, irregular employment and three attempts to end her own life proved to be a blessing in disguise. 

Being herself and speaking candidly with an audience about what it’s like living with a traumatic brain injury, being a mom, getting married and divorced, co-parenting with an ex-husband, who also suffered a brain injury, led to the development of Crawford’s personal brand of motivational comedy.

People would tell her all the time that she made them laugh and that she should create a routine and try to get in at stand-up comedy club Yuk Yuks. So, in 1997, she did. Crawford has been on stage in one form or another since then, either as an assistant coach with Dale Carnegie leadership programs, or at the helm of Relentless and Company, which she founded.

“I felt natural on stage. It was the first place I didn’t have to work so hard to be myself,” Crawford said. “I personally find the motivational stuff like listening to Olympic medallists inspiring, but I felt it was lacking in that I couldn’t apply it to myself,” she said, adding that why she’s nicknamed her humour ‘more than a punchline’.

A blog dedicated to motivating readers with physical and mental disabilities remarked after seeing the debut of Crawford’s The Ex-Files, which she produced and performs with ex-husband, Warren Crawford, that the show felt like a blend of stand-up comedy and Ted Talks.

Crawford actually just learned she has been nominated to give a Ted Talk, and is on to round two in the selection process where she is preparing to submit a pitch.

“I can take a tragedy and turn it into a triumph, and I can take a losing hand and turn it into a winner,” said Crawford.

The Crawfords bring their motivational comedy show The Ex-Files to Newmarket Saturday, Oct. 27. The performance, in the upstairs room at Hungry Brew Hops, includes an appetizer buffet, cash bar, and promises to bring transparency and laughter about the pair’s four-year co-parenting journey. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the show starts at 8:30 p.m. Seating is limited.

Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. To reserve your spot, visit here

For more information on Melanie Crawford and Relentless and Company, visit here


Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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