Comedy can be a great thing, not only because it can make you laugh – even when you don’t feel like it – but because comedy can be a great platform for talking about all sorts of tricky topics, including topics like mental illness, which often feel taboo.
Today we wanted to share a few of our favourite comedians – in particular those who aren’t afraid to strip off their armour, dig into their vulnerabilities and talk about the tough stuff.
1. Joshua Walters
Joshua Walters never shies away from the big topics. Exploring the links between creativity and mental illness in particular. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Walters uses his humour to face his mental illness. He says “Everyone is a little bit mad. How much depends where you fall on the spectrum. How much depends on how lucky you are”.
2. Maria Bamford
Mental illness has always been a central theme in the comedy of Maria Bamford. Diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and with a long history of suicidal thoughts, Bamford has fearlessly talked about all aspects of her struggle, and she has been praised by comedy juggernaut Judd Apatow for her powerful and moving performances.
3. Hannah Gadsby
Hannah Gadsby is a powerhouse when it comes to her brutal honesty in her comedy performances and in particular, her dismantling of the idea that artists must avoid the use of psychiatric meds in order to suffer for their art and not “dull their pain” with medication. In her show Nanette – a must-watch for SO many reasons – she uses her art history education to blast that theory out of the water. You can catch Nanette on Netflix now.
4. Apama Nancherla
Working as a stand-up comic for over ten years, Apama has just finished starring in the first season of Corporate and is currently preparing for a coast-to-coast stand up tour of the US. Her shows are peppered with anecdotes about dealing with mental illness, and her irreverent comments about depression and anxiety are so on point that they have us all in stitches.
5. Chris Gethard
Chris Gethard’s latest HBO comedy special Career Suicide is deeply personal and details his long-term struggles with depression and anxiety in graphic detail. Despite the seriousness of the topic, with his refreshing honesty, brutal candour and magnificent charisma, he manages to keep us laughing as he talks through his long history with therapy and pharmaceuticals.
6. Laura Davis
Perth-born and Melbourne-raised comedian Laura Davis has been talking about mental illness in her comedy for a long time. In her new show Cake in the Rain she sheds light on our tendency to give more meaning to negative experiences than positive ones and it’s a wonderful performance, a heartbreaking riot.
Want to hear comedians talk openly about their struggles with mental illness?
Tune in to Paul Gilmartin’s “Mental Illness Happy Hour” (mentalpod.com) a podcast where he interviews comedians, artists and doctors about mental illness, addiction, trauma and negative thinking.
Get the support you need
As always, CoAct takes the topic of mental health very seriously, with many of our Service Partners specialising in employment and community services for people with mental health issues.
If you are looking for an employment services provider that takes a highly-sensitive, personalised, approach to finding the right job for you based on your unique needs, then why not get in touch with one of CoAct’s Service Partners?
If you or someone you know is in danger or needs immediate medical attention, please call 000. If you are thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis help is available. No one needs to face their problems alone. Call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14