Photo couresy of: NICHOLE PETERSON / NP IMAGES

Photo couresy of: NICHOLE PETERSON / NP IMAGES

The Story

Melissa Bangs is a storyteller at heart.  For her, a true story with all of its highs and lows, its light and dark, its clarity and murkiness is the route to understanding, forgiveness and compassion.  

Her hope is that by sharing her lived experience, boldly, with a dose of humor and self-love, others will be inspired to shed their shame, find forgiveness & tell their own true stories.  

As we deeply hear one another and offer our truest voices... we transform.

In September 2012, at 40 years old, Melissa Bangs gave birth to her beautiful daughter Adelaide.  A month later, dramatically hormone depleted and sleep deprived, Melissa is admitted to the Providence Psychiatric Facilities in a complete manic state.  After nearly a month, she is sent home with a bipolar diagnosis and on lithium.  What comes next is an extraordinary journey back to wholeness, back to love.

On her journey back, one of the things Bangs did was read her entire 100 plus page hospital record. Somewhere, around page 87, there is a nurse’s note that looks as if it were scribbled late at night after a long shift.  It reads, “Patient says she will do comedy on this experience.”  Upon reading this, Bangs laughed out loud. 

The psych team couldn’t have possibly known that Bangs has been a storyteller her entire life and did comedy for a stint, as a student, at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade in New York City.  They couldn’ t have known that transforming a few details and layers of the most painful experience of her life into a room full of laughter would prove healing for dozens of people, if not more.

Join Melissa for an evening of true stories full of bewilderment, chaos and hilarity.  Bangs has a knack for telling true stories that cut to the bone of our shared, vulnerable human condition. Her true gift, however, comes in the moments in which she’s able to strip away the shame or agony of an experience and transform the room into an uproar of laughter.

Photo courtesy of: MICHAEL GALLACHER / MISSOULIAN

Photo courtesy of: MICHAEL GALLACHER / MISSOULIAN

Melissa painting in her Missoula studio

Melissa painting in her Missoula studio

Melissa Bangs

Melissa Bangs is fifth generation Montanan on her dad’s side and draws her roots all the way back to Roger Williams and Providence, Rhode Island on her mom’s.  

In her many years away from Montana, Melissa worked as a labor organizer, a development director of an international human rights organization and a nonprofit consultant with an emphasis on strategic planning, fundraising, board development and facilitation.  

Her journey away from Montana took her to Santa Cruz, Mexico, Chile, San Francisco, El Salvador and New York City.  

In 2004, Melissa brought her nonprofit consulting business home from NYC and worked with well over 100 nonprofit organizations throughout Montana before the birth of her daughter, Adelaide, in 2012.

Between 2015 and the present, Melissa has drawn on her comedic roots from the Upright Citizens’ Brigade in NYC and shared her story with over 7,000 people. Melissa toured with her husband, Eric, daughter, Adelaide and their 130 pound dog, Etta James. Their journey has led them all over Montana, on a year-long West Coast Tour, to DC, NYC and beyond.

All along the way Melissa’s mantra has been, “If my story does nothing else, may it unleash yours.”

To fuel this mission, she has led storytelling workshops for moms that struggled in the perinatal period. Over the years, Melissa has created a radically nonjudgemental space for the stories and experiences of moms all over Montana, and as far away as Los Angeles and Washington DC. These mamas have released and transformed trauma through their own brave and vulnerable true stories.

In 2018/19, Melissa produced and directed MOMedy, a highly collaborative performance, presenting the hilarious yet heart-wrenching early parenthood stories of 7 moms and a dad.

MOMedy was performed multiple times in Missoula, at the statewide perinatal mental health conference in Fairmont in 2018 and at the Dennison Theatre in Missoula for Mothers’ Day 2019. Mini MOMedy(s) have been performed on the Flathead and Northern Cheyenne reservations in partnership with OG MOMedienne, April Iris Charlo of the Flathead Nation.