Brain Matters:  Scientists believe that the brain does not fully develop until the age of 25.  My wife says, “For men, it’s 45.” As a result 18-25 year olds find themselves in the perfect storm of health risks.  They may feel invincible, but they suffer the highest rates of motor vehicle accidents, homicides, substance abuse and mental health issues.  Therefore, it is an important time to emphasize positive social support and using healthy coping mechanisms to help them make smart decisions and deal with stress appropriately.


Keynote:“How to Get High Naturally”

Ideal Settings: Orientations, NCAA Programs,Conferences
Ideal Audience Size:  100 – 5,000 depending on the venue

Length: 60+ minutes

This informative and humorous presentation focuses on natural highs and creating healthy habits in college.  Matt’s comedic style, interactive demonstrations and inspirational stories are an ideal combination for college audiences.  Two major themes that emerge during the program include choosing “good pain” (e.g. healthy choices) over “bad pain” (e.g. anything in the Hangover movies) and finding healthy outlets to express emotions. In addition, Matt shares his own story of college prevention leadership, as the founder of a nationally recognized student group at Bucknell University.

Like all Matt’s programs, “How to Get High Naturally” has specific learning objectives. The audience will:

  1. Understand the more advanced science behind natural highs, such as the neurotransmitters released during running, laughing and loving others. 
  2. Recognize the importance of positive social support, including having friends who make healthier choices around alcohol and other drugs.
  3. Know the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain” choices and the value of taking a stand for your health.
  4. Be able to discuss the effects of marijuana and alcohol use on the brain (e.g. memory and IQ) when used prior to the age of 25.
  5. Have fun and associate having fun with prevention in college.


Comedy Show: “Laugh It Off”

Ideal Settings: All-Campus Comedy Show, Conference Entertainment

Ideal Audience Size:  50-500

Length: 90 minutes

Laugh It Off” is an inspirational stand-up comedy show that uses laughter to open a conversation on mental health and wellness.  The show brings together nationally touring stand-up comedians (e.g., Joe Matarese,, who’ve appeared on television and radio, with clinical psychologist and comedian, Dr. Matt Bellace.  If comedy is the best medicine, there should be a prescription for this show!

“Laugh It Off” focuses on living alcohol and drug free, as well as coping with anxiety, depression and attention problems. The educational components of the show are integrated throughout by Dr. Matt Bellace.   As the host, Dr. Matt Bellace takes every opportunity to educate and add a professional perspective to the comedy while keeping the audience engaged.  In addition, Dr. Bellace interviews the comedians to really bring out the message behind the comedy.

Like all Matt’s programs, “Laugh It Off” has specific learning objectives. The audience will:

  1. Learn about the struggles of making healthy choices regarding alcohol and other drugs.  Particularly, they will understand the difference between the “good pain” of choosing moderation or sobriety versus the “bad pain” of addiction.
  2. Recognize the difference between everyday anxiety and attention problems and pathological conditions that require treatment. 
  3. Understand the process of mental health treatment, including the positives and negatives of medication and psychotherapy.
  4. Be engaged and entertained by a thoughtful performance and discussion of material related to mental health and wellness.

Upon request, additional topics can include obsessive compulsive disorder, dealing with loss and the health risks of eating disorders



Ideal Audiences: Peer Health Educators, Student Leaders, Residence Staff

Ideal Audience Size:  50 or less

Length: 60-90 minutes

“Booze, Behavior and the Brain.”  Alcohol remains the drug of choice for young people. Nearly a quarter of 12th graders reported binge drinking in the past month (Monitoring the Future Survey, 2013). However, neuroscientists are just beginning to learn about the life-long changes caused by adolescent binge drinking. The adolescent brain is uniquely vulnerable to risk-taking and addiction, both potential outcomes of frequent binge drinking. This workshop is an interactive discussion of the effects of alcohol use on the developing brain and behavior. Dr. Bellace uses humor and a non-judgmental approach to convey neuroscience research that supports choosing healthy natural highs over chemical highs like alcohol.

“Pot, Behavior and the Brain.”Some people believe that pot is “like salad.” This funny, but sadly inaccurate statement is consistent with the data showing a decrease in the number of young people who disapprove of regular pot use (Monitoring the Future Survey, 2010). The relaxation of state marijuana laws, smoking of the drug as “medicine” and spread of misinformation through pop culture creates an illusion that pot is safe for the adolescent brain. This workshop is an interactive discussion of the effects of marijuana use on the developing brain and behavior. Dr. Bellace uses humor and a non-judgmental approach to convey neuroscience research that supports choosing healthy natural highs over chemical highs like marijuana.


Natural High Comedy Show:

Ideal Audience: Students and Staff

Ideal Audience Size:  30 or more

Duration: 90 minutes

This event is a great way to take Matt's natural high message to the next level. The stand-up comedy show is perfect for college-aged students and staff.  This show brings the laughs without material that promotes substance abuse.  The show lasts up to 90 minutes and includes Matt and two other comedians from New York City.  Past shows have included comedians such as Joe Matarese from The Late Show with David Letterman and Comedy Central Presents, Ted Alexandro from The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan O’Brian and Jimmy Kimmel Live and a nationally known improv comedy troupe called The Indicators.