Written by Reece Cotton |
Context is everything in comedy. Failing to properly frame or set up a joke correctly before the punchline can make an amazing joke fall flat… The silence usually doesn’t feel too good, unless you’re one of those comics who is a glutton for punishment. Conversely, context is everything in psychology. Failing to properly frame or set up your internal dialog before coming to a conclusion about your life can turn a lesson into a loss. That sense of loss can lead to hopelessness, and hopelessness is where depression resides.
Take it from a comedian who has been in therapy for a long time, everyone struggles with sadness, especially those of us who look like we’re having the time of our lives. Some of my best comedy was produced while my world was falling apart and I’ve got the “crazy pills” to prove it. However, standup comedy has tremendously helped me work through my traumas and depression in ways that traditional therapy could never. Prescriptions aside, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are helpful methods for addressing mental health concerns but it doesn’t compare to a room full of people laughing alongside me about the very things that keep me awake at night.
A successful night of comedy and laughter can provide me with a new sensation to associate with distressing memories. That sensation is called joy. The joy that occurred as a result of my dark humor was a very powerful turning point for my psyche. I realized that if I could laugh about difficult situations from my past, then I could get through the present moment with my spirit intact. When battling depression, laughter was a shield to my soul and jokes were the swings of my sword.
The flip side is, there are people who don’t wish to laugh at distressing content, regardless of how well crafted the joke is. Therefore, unless you know how to read-the-room before diving into controversial material then it’s best leave doom and gloom to the professionals. You can always reserve your riskier material for open mics, especially bar shows, until you've had enough practice. We all run the risk of people laughing at us, instead of with us, but such complaints are not too common in comedy. At the end of the day, you have to do what's best for your mental health. Like life, comedy is a process and part of that process is learning about what works for you and what doesn’t.
Baring my soul on stage helped callous my spirit. I'm not saying that it made me emotionally indestructible but I’ve definitely come a long way from where I was. Standup comedy, in conjunction with traditional therapy, has changed my life for the better. If you would like to support more content like this, please consider sharing this post, subscribing to my website or following me on Instagram. Donations via CashApp or Venmo are also welcomed & appreciated because your tips help fund future projects. If you prefer to donate using a different payment method or want become a sponsor for future endeavors then please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for supporting live comedy.
- Reece Cotton
Last updated February 23, 2022 at 10:39 am EST
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the writer or speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent.