Mental Illness As Material

Jaime Lutz fears that many young comedians "are romanticizing their mental illness; that they see it as the source of their power":

If you go regularly to open mic nights and indie improv shows, you will notice certain archetypes of struggling comedians: the panicky over-talkers, the undeservedly confident, the oblivious raging misogynist. But most prominent of all, to my eye, is the guy who is doing this because he is sad.

This guy imagines himself (and it is usually a "himself") a darkly funny truth-teller. And indeed, he is being honest about his feelings. But he hasn't yet grasped what's funny about his situation. He's just an asshole, standing on stage, making people uncomfortable with explicit details about his sex addiction. 

She goes on:

Damaged comedians who haven't dealt with their issues are like premises without punchlines: all tension, no relief. No surprise. No funny.

On the other hand, Nathan Rabin points out how comedian Maria Bamford has not only been able to use her personal battles with mental illness for material, but also to raise awareness and  destigmatize mental illnesses for others:

Exiting The Anxiety Closet

Maria Bamford, a Dish fave, exited through comedy: Scott Stossel reflects on his decision to open up about his chronic anxiety: I revealed my anxiety and … the world didn’t end. Did friends and colleagues talk about me behind my back? Maybe. Probably. (O.K., definitely.) But for the most part people didn’t seem to treat me any differently — … Continue reading Exiting The Anxiety Closet

A Long Distance Relationship … With Your Therapist

Joseph Burgo shares his experiences using telemedicine in his therapy practice: No doubt it would be better if my clients and I were able to meet in my office week after week, me inviting them in from my waiting room at the beginning of each session and ushering them out through the exit door at the end. … Continue reading A Long Distance Relationship … With Your Therapist

Wisecracker Of Woe

Sara Corbett spotlights comic and Dish fave Maria Bamford (NYT): Much of Bamford’s work examines the relationship between “people” – generally well-intentioned friends and family – and those who grapple with depression or anxiety or any other challenge to the psyche. Her act is a series of monologues and mini-skits performed rapid fire and often without regard for transition. Deploying a range of deadpan … Continue reading Wisecracker Of Woe

A Woman On The Edge Of Your Seat

The Maria Bamford Show is the brainchild of standup comic Maria Bamford, whose sensibility is, according to Madeleine Davies, “as unique as it is necessary”: Perhaps what’s most special about Bamford’s goofy, surreal and stylized brand of humor is that it doesn’t end up seeming stylized at all. At times, she comes off as so intensely … Continue reading A Woman On The Edge Of Your Seat