Splitsider

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The Depressive's Guide to Comedy: Laughing to Keep From Crying

Beth Stelling


“[My sister]'s only eating like 300 more calories a day to accommodate the life form growing inside her bod, which blows my mind. Because I consume at least 1,000 more calories during a pregnancy scare. And I'm always boozing for two.”

When Beth Stelling is imparted with life's insanity, she comes back with a matching in-kind contribution. Watching one of her sets is like seeing someone play a game of chicken with every oddity she encounters. If she's mistaken for a man while biking in the harsh Chicago winter, she wears her bra on the outside of her coat; if stockings can keep her legs warm and tan, then why shouldn't she wear them over her face to combat winter paleness… to the bank? All of Beth's problems are grounded in reality, but her wacky proposed solutions allow us a peek into a very unique comic mind.

In an especially funny bit, Beth marvels at her sister's restraint and aplomb for only eating 300 additional calories a day while pregnant. Just who we know who we're dealing with, Beth immediately establishes herself as an extreme foil to her sister's strict adherence to normalcy confessing that she consumes "at least 1,000 more calories during a pregnancy scare." This self-characterization doesn't soon let up. In another bit, Stelling harbors no qualms with the idea of dating her teenage brother — if he were as rich and had as many resources as The Bachelor. You wouldn't know that this bit began as a pretty straightforward satirization of the superficiality of the show's female contestants because, not content with a perfectly satisfying pop culture joke, Beth masterfully maneuvers the bit back to her point of view.

Beth exhibits a lot of her quirks in hypotheticals — If I were in this situation, this is what I'd do — and in doing so, is able to extend the shelf life of transient jokes (though most of her jokes veer more personal) and store them in her bag of tricks for as long as she's able to keep them relevant with her fresh and funny perspective.

Beth says: “I DID have problems. Then I told thousands of people about it and I feel better.”

Full interview with Beth Stelling HERE.


Chicago Winter is my birth control.less than a minute ago via web

James Fritz


“I hate to be a glass is half empty motherfucker, but happy shit ain't funny.”

Through a skeptic's lens, James Fritz examines the world and often finds it wanting. Politicians, his personal and love life, seasonal depression, human rights, his home town — by the end of one of his sets, Fritz will have convinced an audience of what's off about each — and he'd be correct. James' intensity doesn't wane on topics of pop culture; he'll sneak in a reference to Glee and Rubicon, but only as tools to illustrate his paranoia and disdain of joy. In a fit of realism I can only describe as refreshing, Fritz explains why he won't be having children with the conviction of a T-888 hellbent on preventing the apocalypse: "I feel like it's my job to kill the Fritz lineage. We are a horrible, depressed, miserable people. That's like child abuse if I do that to a child. Why would I do that — genetically — to a little person?" Though he employs more than enough hyperbole and it's one of the funniest things I've ever heard, as someone who thinks that because of her own genetic maladies and bad dating record, her children would be Voltrons of innately screwed up human beings, I appreciate the truth behind this joke.

James Fritz on what he’d be doing if he didn’t have comedy as an outlet: “Dying in a cubicle somewhere. Or street preaching about aliens in my stomach.”

Full interview with James Fritz HERE.


At 32 I really shouldn't feel THIS proud of myself for doing laundry and making it to a movie on time. All in one day!less than a minute ago via txt



Glee is stupid. The emotion not the show.less than a minute ago via HootSuite

Lucas Molandes


“I think if you have student loans and you didn't graduate, you shouldn't have to pay them back. They bet on the wrong horse as far as I'm concerned.”

Lucas Molandes is a champion of what he calls a “truth joke” –- which makes sense coming from a comic who told Austin 360: “’One of my earliest jokes was that I wanted to be a philosopher, but I got into comedy so people would take me seriously.’” Lucas Molandes’ sets concern dead end jobs, defaulted student loans, debt, dropping out of college, and living with your parents as an adult –- subjects not usually happily acknowledged, but Molandes attacks them with this attitude: “I try to swing for the gut when I'm on stage. Once you open up a crowd at that level, they are more willing to go along with something that may not be traditionally funny because they trust you more.” Molandes’ charismatic, often cerebral style keeps audiences captivated by his musings, rather than enslaved by the fact that he’s assaulting their expectations while making them laugh.

Lucas says: “I know that I have always had that nagging feeling of, 'there's something wrong with everything.'”

Full interview with Lucas Molandes HERE.

Maria Bamford

The Maria Bamford Show could have easily been ripped from the pages of my depression journal. The similarities are uncanny: A gal whose life is on track suffers a mental break, goes back home, and tries to piece it all together. SOUNDS FAMILIAR! And without knowing it, Maria may have found the perfect antidote (besides her hilarious stand up) to my predicament: "If you need mental health help and you don't have insurance, call the operator because they are there and they are standing by and if you get the right person, they will give you a full 45 minute session." At this point, I just may give it a try.

Maria Bamford has never shied away from uncomfortable subject matter and seems to feel at home being the odd-woman-out. She even has a bit that flips audiences’ perceptions of female comics on its ear -– because she’s not your typical, generic road comic –- or your typical anything for that matter. From her voice to her mannerisms, Maria Bamford embraces her idiocyncrasies, but can parrot normalcy to the point of hilarious parody. Have you seen her Target holiday commercials? We all know some incarnation of the overzealous woman she’s portraying. Maria’s impressions aren’t often of actors or singers or well-known celebrities, but of everyday people. Because she’s spent so much time on the outside looking in, it’s no wonder she knows the act like the back of her hand.


Relax on the Black Sabbath. Take break from uplifting. Think small, negative thoughts. Think of the infintite lack of possibilities. Wow!less than a minute ago via web

  • Phil Davidson

    Great read. Wasn't aware of a lot of these comics. Thanks.

  • http://mobfd.blogspot.com/ Chris Trash

    Beautiful read. In my badly informed opinion comedy is not always about being happy, but sometimes it's about seeing things with a new perspective.

  • mallory.elis@gmail.com

    What, no Simon Amstell?

  • Megh Wright

    Wow, this rocks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Melissa-Ragsly/100001684347741 Melissa Ragsly

    What a great article, with perfectly suited clips to boot. The only comic I had heard of was Rob Delaney, but somehow had missed ever seeing his actual stand-up.

    And I must add, when I heard the WTF with Judd Apatow and he said that thing about the punch, I too had a moment of not feeling alone. So we both felt unalone together. Isn't that great?

  • Kokapelye

    “…The equivalent of a bad haircut [in] mental health”?! Been there, done that, and it’s not just the graduate student therapists, my previous shrink being a case in point.

    “So doctor, I’ve been having trouble sleeping. On the off chance that I’m getting too much caffeine, what’s the medically recommended daily limit?”
    “One cup.”
    ”Is that like one measuring cup cup, or one coffee mug cup?”
    ”One cup.”

    Once we arrived at the dosage of Prozac that helped me, I had to avoid saying anything that would prompt him to adjust my dosage or try the latest antidepressant the rep brought in. My new shrink is soooo much better. And I’m sleeping better.

  • http://comedyconjectures.blogspot.com Brett Johnson

    Molandes is the *balls*. Thanks for the heads-up!