Many artists of all types, including comedians, have talked about their creativity being their chosen form of therapy. A few years ago comedian Kevin Hart, for example, said the following to an interviewer with AMC Theatres:
When you look at the greats, you know, from Pryor, Murphy, Cosby, the list can go on and on, they get so personable. And nothing is held back. It’s hey, this is my life, this is who I am. And sometimes you have to address the things that you don’t want to address, because it’s bottled up inside you. And we don’t figure it out until it’s too late, but we use comedy as therapy. This is my therapy. You know. I didn’t talk about my mom passing away. I never talked about my dad being on drugs. I didn’t talk about my relationship status, and me going through a divorce — these are all things I had just held in, and I was very very reserved about. And it got to a point where I was like, you know what? I’m a comedian! My fans will respect me more when I’m honest. The more honest I am with them, the more of an open book I am, the more they can relate to me and the more they can say, ‘Hey, you know what? Dude, I like this guy. I relate to this guy. He doesn’t care. Nothing’s held back.’ It’s funny but at the same time it’s real. And by me putting my real life out there, I think I got the best of me.
Counselor and humorist David Granirer actually created a program called Stand Up For Mental Health in which people with mental health issues can learn how to do stand-up comedy as a form of therapy. In the video below called “Cracking Up,” some participants introduce us to it.
You’ll need over six minutes to watch this—but it’s worth it.
If this whets your comedy appreciation appetite, clips of individual routines that have emerged from this program are available on the Stand Up for Mental Health website.
Below Granirer himself riffs to an audience on the topic of mental health stigma: