A show about clinical depression...with laughs? Well, yeah. Depression is an incredibly common and isolating disease experienced by millions, yet often stigmatized by society. The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with this disease, hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe. Join guests such as Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Richter, and Jen Kirkman to learn how they’ve dealt with depression and managed to laugh along the way. If you have not met the disease personally, it’s almost certain that someone you know has, whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague, or neighbor. Depression is a vicious cycle of solitude and stigma that leaves people miserable and sometimes dead. Frankly, we’re not going to put up with that anymore. The Hilarious World of Depression is not medical treatment and should not be seen as a substitute for therapy or medication. But it is a chance to gain some insight, have a few laughs, and realize that people with depression are not alone and that together, we can all feel a bit better. American Public Media and HealthPartners’ Make It Okay campaign are committed to breaking the stigma around mental health.
Look, we know that THWoD can get a little, I guess, intense at times. Depression is a heavy topic and stories about it are often packed with bummers. So in this special episode, we rounded up some of the funniest moments from our three seasons and packed them all together for a hilarity highlight reel. The laughs tend to come from unexpected places and within the context of the chat so you can be sure that none of it is corny and there are no jokes you've heard before outside the show. In the end, it's all about coming together over the topic of depression, telling truths, sharing stories, and yes, having a good laugh. Support our show today at hilariousworld.org/donate.
It's not easy to pinpoint where L.A.-based comedian Solomon Georgio is "from." His family is Ethiopian but he was born in a refugee camp in Sudan. The family traveled to St Louis, then on to Fresno, where he was bullied so much in 2nd grade that he threatened suicide in the middle of class. Then there were many years in Seattle where he says his parents were abusive and had no tolerance for Solomon's homosexuality. A disastrous runaway trip to Los Angeles ended up in a return to Seattle where he embraced comedy and relocated himself, again and much more successfully to Southern California. His depression isn't a thing of the past but he's definitely in a good place. Support the show at HilariousWorld.org/donate. Check out our sponsor this week: Calm -- Get 25% off a Calm Premium subscription when you visit calm.com/world
The idea was to become an engineer or maybe an architect. Jonny Sun has degrees in both, and he's a dissertation away from a doctorate in urban studies and planning from MIT. But a phenomenally humane, funny, and popular Twitter account has placed him in an unexpected comedy career. Meanwhile, he realized that this dark sad feeling he's had forever has a name.
"There's a lot to unpack, John," says comedian, actor, and writer Naomi Ekperigin during the course of this interview and indeed there is. The New York native, now uneasily dwelling in Los Angeles, has dealt with anxiety, depression, a very complicated relationship with her father, as well as problems with alcohol and cutting. Comedy has been in there too both as a respite from mental turmoil and sometimes a source of neurosis. With the help of her fiance' (who is also a rich source of her comedy material), sobriety, and a lot of self-awareness, she's on the rise in the comedy world.
Check-Ups on Gary Gulman, Linda Holmes, Janelle James, and "Steve." Plus, Sock Opportunities
Mental health is a journey. Rarely does someone have a problem, fix it completely, and never worry about it again. On this episode, we touch base with three popular guests we've had on the show to see how they're doing today. Gary Gulman has a new lease on life and a new lease on an apartment, Linda Holmes has a new friend, Janelle James is keeping her ears sealed, and "Steve", the embodiment of listener Bri Traquair's anxiety, has been restrained. Also on this episode, your chance to receive cool THWoD merch and support the show! HilariousWorld.org/donate Check out our sponsor this week: Calm -- Get 25% off a Calm Premium subscription when you visit calm.com/world
Aparna Nancherla Is Having a Harder Time Doing Something She's Great At
It's pretty easy to be a fan of Aparna Nancherla. Not only does she create incredibly funny, smart, relatable comedy, she does so in a variety of formats. You can catch her standup on Netflix or Spotify and you can see her acting work on shows like "Bojack Horseman" and "Corporate" as well as movies. But as she has become more famous in recent years, Aparna's anxiety and depression have made some of that work harder for her carry out. That's especially the case with standup, the foundational format for comedians. Hear how she found her calling in comedy and how she's now trying to manage her mental health in a world where she gets paid to get up in front of strangers and talk about her vulnerabilities. Check out our sponsor this week: BarkBox - Get a free extra month of BarkBox when you subscribe to a 6 or 12 month plan at barkbox.com/world
John Ross Bowie and Jamie Denbo Don't Need Your Suggestions For Their Life Improv
In a whole lot of ways, improv comedy is the opposite of depression. It requires you to be present in the moment, unconcerned about past regrets and future anxieties. It means connecting with other people and taking fun risks. And it's full of laughs. Actors and real-life married couple Jamie Denbo ("Orange is the New Black", "Ghostbusters") and John Ross Bowie ("The Big Bang Theory", "Speechless") have plenty of experience in improv, having met twenty years ago in a class taught by Amy Poehler. At the time, John was coming off a breakdown and Jamie was headed for one. They talk about how improv helped and sometimes hindered their path to self-discovery and how they've learned to harness improv's power. Check out our sponsor this week: Care/Of - TakeCareOf.com and use promo code HILARIOUS at checkout for 25% off your first month of personalized Care/of vitamins.
True stories of beautiful epiphanies and majestic, horrible disasters. Talk therapy is one of the most popular ways to address depression and it's one of the most effective. Still, at its root, talk therapy is a relationship between two humans -- strangers, mostly -- trying to figure out something complicated together, and that is inherently complicated. Our listeners have stepped up to provide true life tales of therapy gone comically bad and therapy that worked out great. You'll hear about dogs, Flag Day, awkward online dating, painful wedding photos, and even a wedgie. Check out our sponsor this week: Calm - Get 25% off a Calm Premium subscription when you visit calm.com/world
Guy Branum Goes to Minnesota, Gets Good Internet, Finds Self
Comedian and writer Guy Branum was expected to be a construction worker his whole life. Maybe a football player. He was large, strong, and grew up in a town more known for agriculture than metropolitan sophistication. After scoring good grades and pining for places usually seen in the movies or magazines, he moved on to college and then law school in Minnesota, where he was able to come out as gay and realize that his interests were way more tilted toward comedy than the practice of law. What's it like to find yourself after suspecting you don't belong anywhere? Check out our sponsor this week: Care/Of - TakeCareOf.com and use promo code HILARIOUS at checkout for 25% off your first month of personalized Care/of vitamins.
Our show took to the stage recently for a live event packed with laughter, insight, and music. We were joined by Paul F. Tompkins, Aimee Mann, Ted Leo, and Ana Marie Cox, who all shared their experience with mental illnesses as well as what it's like to be out and about in the world with people knowing what they've gone through. We spin through the hilariously depressing world of Google Reviews in Google Review Theater, take a visit to an O. Henry marriage therapist, and even hear a little about how this very program got started. Check out our sponsors this week: Stitch Fix -- stitchfix.com/HILARIOUS
Finding and using the right words for something as complex as mental illnesses can be exasperating. And it can take a lot of effort to avoid the wrong words. In this episode, using words, we explore terms like "crazy" or "addiction" or "depression" and how they are so often abused, co-opted, and twisted. Guests include Paul F. Tompkins, Aimee Mann, Ted Leo, Ana Marie Cox, as well as licensed therapist Emily Bulthuis, who discusses the benefits of accurate terminology and how to gently approach those who misuse mental health words.
He's a writer, a stand-up comedian, and an actor, but Scott Thompson will likely always be best known as one of five members of The Kids in the Hall, one of the best sketch comedy groups ever. Scott has made a lot of people laugh, but his life has been filled with events that aren't funny at all: a school shooting, mental illness in his family, violence, cancer, professional setbacks, and a firebombing. We hear about what knocked Scott down and how he kept managing to get back on his feet.
Comedian and actor Chris Gethard has a lifetime of experience with depression. Chris has turned moments of his life dealing with the illness into an off-Broadway show and an HBO special, which is more than one might expect from a fight-prone, often manic, kid from West Orange, New Jersey. We cover a lot of ground in this talk, including the role of a racist homeowner in his lowest moment.
Figuring Out Regular Adolescent Behavior vs. Alarming Disorder with Jen Kirkman
Young people can be morose, angry, withdrawn. It's often chalked up to being a "phase," a natural initiation ritual to adulthood. What if it's not? What if it's a mental disorder in need of help? We hear from the always-entertaining comedian and writer Jen Kirkman about her efforts to understand her head. We also talk with Jennifer Rothman, NAMI's Sr. Manager for Youth and Young Adult Initiatives and Dr. Sue Swearer of the University of Nebraska. Plus, a montage of past guests trying to figure out what the hell happened in adolescence.
Neko Case Leaves Bad Places, Goes to Better Places
Long before Neko Case was known as one of the top singer-songwriters working today, she was a punk teenager running around the streets of Tacoma, having ditched a neglectful and dangerous house. Fortunately for her and her eventual fans, she got her life on track, developed a strong interest in music and threw herself in to making it. We hear about how she got herself together in spite of her parents, how depression came to wallop her, and what she did to get on track once again. Plus, we hear about how she joyfully wept when trying to talk to Janelle Monae's backing band.
We asked you, our listeners, for the songs that help you most when depression is really acting up, and the stories behind those picks. On this episode hear stories about and music from Leonard Cohen, Bjork, Neil Young, Radiohead and so much more. We even get some peaks behind the songs from Craig Finn of The Hold Steady and former American Idol star Crystal Bowersox.
Mortified's Dave Nadelberg Presents Your Shame Live On Stage
You can think of Dave Nadelberg's vast Mortified project as The Hilarious World of Embarrassment, Awkwardness, and Redemption. Through stage presentations, film, TV, and books, Dave invites people to share their most mortifying writing. It's very funny, sure, but it's more than that. Dave says the process of dragging your younger self out of that old trunk can provide understanding of who you were and what motivated you. That, in turn, can offer valuable insight into who you are. Also in this episode, John is dragged kicking and screaming into revealing his 2nd grade secret identity.
A lot of rappers are heavily influenced by the rough and real streets where they grew up. Mike Eagle grew up on those streets too but he was always inside, reading books and watching TV. He loved comedy, cartoons, and especially the wide range of music available on cable, everything from N.W.A to Spin Doctors. Those influences, as well as his unusual mind, make for a fascinating sound. Ever wonder how 90s pop and rap mix with anxiety, depression, isolation, psychology, and comedy? Take a listen.
Impostor Syndrome: True Tales, Tricks, and Tactics for When You're Feeling Fraudulent
You know the feeling, right? You finally achieve something -- a new job, a promotion, an award -- and while you know you should be proud, you just feel like a big phony who will soon be exposed. You feel like you don't really belong there and you suspect that someone else should be there instead. It's called Impostor Syndrome and it's more common than you might think. We're joined by Dr. Valerie Young to talk about who it effects and what to do about it. And we're joined by you, our listeners, sharing stories of Impostor Syndrome at its most ludicrous and the unorthodox but effective ways you've found to treat it.
Thom Tran Is a Regular Standup Comic Except for the Part About Being Shot in the Head in Iraq
Yeah, you don't hear a lot of on-stage material from Chris Rock or Sarah Silverman about the time they were on a mission with their unit in Iraq and they took a bullet to the back of the skull. But you hear about that from Thom Tran, a US Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient who not only talks about his experiences on the battlefield but shows video on stage of that injury as well. The Vietnam-born, Buffalo-raised comedian is based in Los Angeles now, gathering acclaim for his jokes and stories while working to help other veterans find the next chapter in their lives.
Andrew Zimmern Wrecks His Life, Rebuilds His Life, and Eats Weird Food
Celebrity chef and Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern has made a reputation as a culinary expert with an adventurous streak, traveling the world and sampling tree grubs, shark meat, tarantulas, and horse rectums among many other cuisines. But before his current fame, he was on the street, stealing handbags to fuel his alcoholism, which existed to deaden his long-held depression. We hear about hitting bottom, redemption, and Andrew's friend, the late Anthony Bourdain.
Special Episode: Mental Health First Aid and Lady Gaga's Mom
CPR training has been widely available for many years now and offered in a variety of convenient ways. But what if the problem isn't physical but mental? A new wave of first aid training is rapidly sweeping the world and people are learning what to do and what not to do in a crisis. A driving force in this movement is the pop singer Lady Gaga, whose charitable organization, the Born This Way Foundation, has been offering the training in cities Gaga tours. We talk with that group's co-founder Cynthia Germanotta, aka Lady Gaga's mother, and Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health.
Here's a repeat of an episode originally aired last year. We're offering this repeat because some things need repeating, such as how to get help for your mental health when you really need it. It's a conversation with Dr. Ken Duckworth, Medical Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and it's practical advice. A lot of people will say "get help" for mentaln illness; here's what you can do to make that happen.
The show busts out of studios and quiet intimate spaces for an on-stage performance at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Comedian Mike Brown joins us for plenty of comedy and conversation. We even bust out a few games where you can play along and see if you can tell a Pokemon from an antidepressant from a weird food served at the Minnesota State Fair.
Hannah Hart Gets Drunk, Tries To Make Grilled Cheese, Gets Famous, Tries To Enjoy It
Although she comes across as confident and happy on her incredibly successful YouTube channel, Hannah Hart has plenty of experience with insecurity and misery in her life. Growing up, she faced severe poverty, hunger, and dealing with a mother who was mentally ill. Still, she made it into a good college where she had to confront issues about her religion and her sexuality on her way to getting two degrees and not being able to be proud of any of it because of depression. Today, she's a star, dispensing advice on life, relationships, and how to cook when you're completely drunk. Life is full of unexpected paths sometimes. This is our final episode of season 2, but stay tuned for season 3 and bonus placebo episodes between seasons.
Ted Leo Stops Beating Up File Cabinets, Songs, Self
It's hard to settle on a musical description for Ted Leo. We ended up going with "if The Beach Boys were '80s skateboarders" to summarize his melodic intense post-punk sound. Similarly hard to nail down is whether Ted's longtime issues with depression and anger stem from his brain's built-in wiring or from abuse he suffered as a kid and barely ever talked about since.
Rachel Bloom Finds Her Voice, Then Uses It To Sing About Stealing Pets and Moving to West Covina, California
Rachel Bloom has never moved across the country to chase a boy like Rebecca Bunch did. Rebecca is the character Rachel plays in "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," the hit show she co-created and stars in on The CW Network. But Rachel does have a long history of messed up romantic relationships -- plus depression and intrusive looping thoughts. And her career really took off when she got inspired by another Rebecca: Rebecca Black. You, know. That 2011 song "Friday?" Yep.
In one of the last interviews he gave, Reggie Osse, aka Combat Jack, talks about the connection between the status of the African-American man in contemporary society, the changing role of masculinity in hip-hop culture, and mental health. Osse was an important figure in hip-hop as a lawyer, editor, podcast host, and thinker. This interview was conducted in October of 2017, and Osse died on December 20th of that year.
Linda Holmes Leaves Law to Concentrate On Watching TV and It Works Out Great
Before she was the host of NPR's popular Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, Linda Holmes was an attorney working at the Minnesota Legislature. Before that, she was a student living in squalor. And before that, she was the victim of some seriously messed up mean kid behavior. We hear about her unusual path to a better life, the older and very recent struggles she has had, and how the written word proved redemptive. We also hear about how Linda's weight was seen as a symptom of her depression when in fact the depression itself was the problem all along.
If you've ever heard this show before, you've heard singer-songwriter Rhett Miller. He wrote and performs the theme song about "the world's greatest clown." On this episode, Rhett tells of his teenage suicide attempt, a mysterious illness, his musical salvation, and his grandmother's owl fixation. He even brought his guitar along and performs a few songs.
Mike Brown Trains as an Engineer to Prepare for Comedy
New York comedian Mike Brown is a big fan of objective cause-and-effect scenarios. This drew him into playing video games, studying math and engineering, and ultimately getting on stage to tell jokes and get laughs. The thing is, sometimes you have to face events that are completely senseless.
Janelle James Discovers She's a Comedian and Not a Gardener
New York comic Janelle James never even imagined being a comedian. She had grown up in the Virgin Islands, worked in fashion PR, had two kids, and was living in Illinois when she first walked on stage at an open mic night. She was 30 years old. But as soon as she hit the stage, she knew this was her calling and many years later she's headlining clubs all over the country and is a comedy star on the rise. She talks about trying to outrun her depression, dealing with depression-induced physical pain, and a therapy session that did not work out. Special guest: neuroscientist Daniel Levitin.
Jenny Lawson is Very Fond of Creepy Smiling Dead Animals and Worries Quite a Bit
She's the author of bestselling books and an incredibly popular blog, but Jenny Lawson showed up to our interview wondering, at least a little, if her appearance on this show and her whole career, really, was part of some delusion. It's not. She's the real thing: an incredibly funny and honest writer with a legion of fans, a very old decapitated and stuffed boar's head named James Garfield, anxiety, depression, and a clear-eyed view of the world.
We've gathered up a whole lot of tips, tricks, ideas, and stories to help you get through this time of year when merriness and jolliness aren't always in abundant supply. Hear holiday thoughts from Wil Wheaton, Margaret Cho, Jenny Lawson, John Green, Aimee Mann, and more. Plus, a story about a slobbering zebra.
You know those things that happened but that you don't talk about very much? Or even at all? Because they're too upsetting? In this episode, host John Moe and guest Ana Marie Cox put those things on the table. Ana is a journalist, pundit, and podcaster; she talks about the lowest point in her mental health, a horrible decision, and what came next. John talks about the event that led to this podcast being created in the first place. This is a re-broadcast of an episode from last spring that has garnered a huge response from listeners, and it's presented largely without edits.
Julie Klausner Builds a More Confident and Dumber Version of Herself For Our Amusement
Growing up, actor and writer Julie Klausner was too busy battling depression and daydreaming about an imagined Merlot-sipping cosmopolitan adulthood to really engage in the world itself. It wasn't until she entered the world of comedy and improv as an adult that things really started to click into place. That led to creating Difficult People, a show on Hulu, where she plays a much bolder, brassier, and more oblivious version of herself.
Jeff Tweedy Didn't Want to Take His Doctor On Tour Because the Doctor Was Terrible
Long before Jeff Tweedy was the founder and leader of the enormously popular band Wilco, he was a kid in Illinois with severe migraines and a tendency toward anxiety and depression. He cycled through alcohol, marijuana, and, finally, opioids to try to get to the point of feeling normal and okay, even relying on a fan who worked at Walgreen's to score him the pills he wanted. Finally, a stint in rehab and a return of self-confidence got him back on track. There's a really sad and darkly funny story in this episode involving a teddy bear and a jar.
Patti Harrison Figures Out Who She Is and She's a Woman Who Likes Gross Jokes
With one recent appearance on The Tonight Show, Patti Harrison went from being a well-regarded alternative comedian in New York to being a de facto spokesperson for transgender people. She's proud of who she is and proud to give a voice to that community. But she wants to make it clear that her sense of humor is much darker, odder, and occasionally more disgusting than one might expect from someone at the forefront of a social cause. Hear about her journey to figure out who she is and who she's not, and also hear her get horrified by a bird.
Gary Gulman Is a Brilliant Comedian and an Ineffective Offensive Lineman
Although Gary Gulman has been a successful stand-up comedian for decades - with acclaimed specials, a loyal fan base, and appearances on all major late night shows - this was not his original plan. Gary is 6'6" and athletically gifted, he loved basketball, and had a full ride athletic scholarship to a Division 1 program. Problem is, he had no killer instinct. He had more of a comedian instinct. Hear Gary's journey through a lifetime of deep depression, impossible standards, and some of the funniest and weirdest comedy out there today.
Aimee Mann Discovers That Having Feelings About Terrible Things Is Perfectly Fine
Singer/songwriter Aimee Mann has a reputation for making music that is raw, emotional, and sometimes not all that cheerful. In real life, she's perfectly cheerful - thank you very much - and has traveled a long road of depression, anxiety, a difficult childhood, and writer's block. Through it all, she's taken a calm, considered, and creative approach to problem-solving that has served her well. Oh, and one time as a teenager she wrote a terrible song about hobos.
John Green Falls Victim to Some Bad Fiction While Writing His New Book
Author John Green had one of the best-selling books of the last 10 years with The Fault In Our Stars. The problem is, when you write an acclaimed smash hit, everyone wants you to somehow do it again. In attempting to write that follow-up, Green went off the meds he'd been taking for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, hoping it would bring him to a more vivid and imaginative place. Instead, the crash made him unable to write at all. Hear how Green later used those dark days to craft the protagonist in a new novel, plus growing up with OCD, being a public figure in the privacy of his own home, and what it's like to read book reviews by people who haven't read the book.
Neal Brennan Gives Ketamine and Magnetic Impulses a Try
If you've enjoyed any comedy in the last 20 years, there's a good chance Neal Brennan helped make it. He's a veteran comic, writer, director, and co-creator, with Dave Chappelle, of the acclaimed Chappelle's Show. Over the past 20-plus years, he's also tried everything he could think of to tame his depression. Hear Neal's epic journey to feeling pretty good. Neal Brennan's website.
Margaret Cho Works Out A Lot And Makes People Upset In New Jersey
She's one of the most influential and innovative comedians of the last few decades, but before all that, Margaret Cho was a Korean-American girl growing up in the 1970s in San Francisco. We hear about the sometimes very darkly humorous ways her family and culture dealt with depression and suicide, and how she harnessed her own depression to begin her comedy. Along the way, the keys to Margaret's often-shocking comedic style emerge and lead to making people upset in New Jersey.
Wil Wheaton was a child star in Stand By Me, a regular on Star Trek: The Next Generation as a teenager, and has been trying to figure out his role in show business for a long time since then. He was dealing with the pressures of fame and the fickle tastes of Hollywood, all while dealing with a chemical imbalance in his brain that made him prone to anxiety and depression. Wil's better now thanks to medication, but despite his long IMDb page and regular work on The Big Bang Theory, his hit YouTube show, and a thriving and varied career, he sees himself primarily as a failed actor.
PLACEBO: Imagine Depression as a Person and Describe Them
What if clinical depression was not just a thing in someone's brain but an actual other person entirely? What would they look like? Act like? Who would they be? And how would you interact with such a person? It's a mental exercise that many find helpful in isolating the disease from the self to better manage it. We asked our listeners to describe their depression. Most chose humans, one chose a very confused monster.
If you are having problems with your mental health, please get help. You've heard that before on this show and probably plenty of other places as well. But how do you actually do that? How do you go about finding professional help to get things on a better track? It's a process that can be complicated and overwhelming, which means loads of people don't get the help they need. On this episode, we talk with Dr. Ken Duckworth, Medical Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about the simplest, best path to getting the help you need. Spoiler: it takes some work, but you can do it.
Depression can be really hard to define, making it difficult for anyone who doesn't have it to be understand it. And that can make the people who do have it feel that much more alone. We asked our listeners what movie, TV show, artwork, or other piece of culture gets depression right. The answers range from John Cusack yelling out a window to Norwegian expressionist painting, to a cuss-filled bit of sour optimism in the Wild West.
PLACEBO: John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats on where all that coping music comes from
When we asked listeners about their favorite songs to listen to while battling depression, The Mountain Goats' music kept coming up. We caught up with the band's founder, singer, and songwriter, John Darnielle, to learn about what goes into his process. We also find out about the music he listens to and the other ways he copes with the depression that has dogged him for many years. Special bonus: a brand new John Darnielle poem.
There are many ways to address depression: therapy, meds, exercise, music. And then there are our own thoughts. We learn the mantras, reminders, and rituals that some of our listeners use to get through it when Clinny D flares up.