Help! Can I do comedy without going crazy?

Meet Avery. She has 8 years experience as a comedian and 7 years experience as a teenager—and she is here to A your toughest Qs about comedy, family, romance, school, and the meaning of life (maybe). Got a problem you can’t solve or a goal you need help meeting? Ask Avery by DMing @GOLDComedy or emailing info+askavery@gmail.com.

Dear Avery,
I wanna be a comedian just like you, but I’m worried I’ll have to sacrifice my mental stability to the humor gods. How can I be hilarious AND healthy?
Sincerely,
American Humor Story: Asylum?

Dear AHSA,
Ah yes, the age-old question of whether you can be a comic without drawing on trauma—or making it worse. Short answer…… YES, AND I EVEN RECOMMEND IT.
Now here’s the long answer:
I’m seeing a trend where younger and younger comics are diving deep into dark comedy: an approach in which subjects like war, violence, racism, sexism, basically every problem in the U.S.—I’m getting sad just thinking about it—is fair game for jokes.
Though many of these comedians do include personal stories—sometimes so horrible that the audience doesn’t know whether to laugh or call their therapists—you can be a dark comic without including yourself in the picture. Trust me, the world has enough issues for many hour-long specials if you wanna dive into the dark zone without losing your mind.
There are also tons of styles of comedy so if dealing with your problems through humor is making you sad, try something new. Observational humor, prop comedy, even just pure slapstick (imagine falling down the stairs into a pie in the face—sublime) are great options.
The other thing about comedy and pain is that comedy can help. Not just because “laughter is the best medicine,” tra la la, but because in order for you to have to write a joke about something tough, you have to be able to hold it far enough away from yourself to see what’s funny about it in the first place. So either you can’t write a good joke about pain until you’re ready—or, writing a joke about it will help you get there.
So never feel pressure to joke about something that (still) makes you uncomfortable. That will make the audience uncomfortable, which will make YOU uncomfortable, and…. SPIRAL OF UNCOMFORTABLE. Remember, comedy is supposed to be fun, for you and for the audience.
I love telling personal stories, and have even been able to joke about things like OCD, which I haven’t even talked to my ‘rents about. Sometimes joking about mental health can actually help normalize issues, but don’t put that genius brain of yours under any more stress than you need to.

 

I LOVE U,
Avery