Mental As Anyone

Sep 05 2020 55 mins 32

A podcast to promote and raise awareness of mental health issues in comedians by sharing and exploring comedians' views on mental health (from personal experience, or observations of peers and loved ones, or society in general). The interviewer, Shae Meddings, is a registered psychologist.

MAA #068: With Jess Cochran
Nov 18 2017 67 mins  
Interview with the awesome and inspiring Jess Cochran, who has always had a talent for humor, but officially started performing comedy at the end of 2016. Jess was invited to participate in a comedy workshop organised by the University of Melbourne, MICF and Women with Disability Victoria, which was delivered by the wonderful Nelly Thomas. Jess recently performed her set at a gig for the Disability Rights Commission. We discuss: having an eating disorder and other health issues from a young age, lack of accessibility to mental health services for those with physical disabilities, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), eating disorders and perfectionism, dealing with reputations and rumours in high school, being in 15 bands at once, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in her final years of school, being competitive and not saying No, perfectionism and burn out, the importance of pacing, taking the career path you want via the back doors, perspectives on Nursing from both sides of the bed, easing into the workforce, some massive life traumas, the Divine Divas of Sunbury, the accessibility challenges of being in a wheelchair, the blessings of being able to drive and live independently, the importance of pacing, being an Olave, making the most of what she has, raising awareness so people don’t suffer in silence, Jess’ super power, and Jess’ messages to not be afraid of speaking up, and to keep fighting on.

MAA #044: With Sharon Andrews
Jan 28 2017 41 mins  
Interview with Comedian Sharon Andrews, who started comedy pretty much by accident a couple of years ago at Aireys Pub. Sharon now performs regularly in Melbourne, and also co-runs the Red Door comedy room in Geelong (on the first Thursday of the month) for the Surf Coast community as well as visitors from Melbourne. You can catch Sharon’s first solo show in May at the Butterfly Club – it’s called People With Glass Dildos Shouldn’t Throw Stones. We discuss: Sharon’s academic approach to start comedy, her fear of public speaking but being up for the challenge, being diagnosed with depression 12 years ago, consciously considering how to actively look after her mental health, teething problems with anti-depressants, the absence of information about how to come off anti-depressants, research and views on medication, the issue of people tending to stay on anti-depressants for the long-term, the contested view of prescribing anti-depressants with people expressing suicidality, awareness of protective factors, listening carefully to herself and her needs, reframing unhelpful/anxiety-provoking self-talk with reassuring thoughts and worst-case scenario planning, mindfulness at the beach, Sharon’s super power, and her general message that you are more powerful than you think – you have great capacity to contribute to your wellbeing and seek out people and things to bring you joy and enhance your life, and also to choose to avoid things that do not.

MAA #039: With Vincent Tshaka
Oct 28 2016 65 mins  
Interview with worldly comedian Vincent Tshaka, who started comedy 7 years ago as a way to learn about Australian culture. His comedy is based on his life and experiences, including racism. Vincent frequents venues like the Comic’s Lounge, the Exford and the Joint, as well as travelling for gigs interstate. We discuss: Being booed off-stage in Kenya, the young comedy scene in Kenya and making fun of tribes, the lack of discussion about mental health in Kenya, moving to England in his 20s, government involvement in promotion of mental health issues in Australia, recognising the flow-on effects of mental health on society and the economy, growing awareness of mental health issues in Kenya, Band-Aid approach of not selling alcohol until 5pm, not addressing the underlying issue of mental illness, views on the Kenyan Government (“democratic on paper”), self-funded mental health care in Kenya, the benefits of community care and family support, importance of addressing the underlying causes, open racism in the UK vs more subtle racism in Australia, defending himself against other people’s perceptions, being told to “tone down” on stage so that others are comfortable, being stereotyped, the issue of applying for jobs, passive-aggressive racism and finding the humour in it, using comedy to get people thinking and talking about issues, celebrating cultural differences, mixing cultures to grow and develop, Vincent’s super power, making a snowman in his PJs, and his message of asking people “How are you?” because that question can be a lifesaver.

MAA #036: With Kieran Butler
Oct 03 2016 61 mins  
Interview with the passionate Kieran “Truth Teller” Butler, who has been performing comedy for 15 years, and for the past 5.5 years has run a weekly open mic room at Station 59 in Richmond. Some notable shows from his comedy career include the Ben Cousins Rock Opera in 2009/2010, the Ned Kelly Last Stand Up show in 2011, and the Australia Is Fucked show which Kieran took to Edinburgh in 2013. We discuss: Comedy in Australia having a bigger role to play than “just getting on the telly” or becoming famous, Kieran’s views on child abuse in Australian culture, family history of bipolar disorder, self-medication, the blessing of the way his brain works, what goes down must come up and vice versa, the benefits of working in the Arts for taking care of mental health, the capitalist approach to comedy that will always exist, happiness from his relationship and parenthood, running a room with the view to give back, issues with cliques, the “sad lifestyle” of comedy, the power of people being heard on stage, Everyone Is Welcome policy, black and white terms of acceptance/exclusion, the evolution of comedy, being pigeon-holed with the label of “football satirist”, the Michael McIntyre genre of comedy, the importance of the artistic journey, views on medication, self-control with weed, importance of not starting on weed too early in life, Kieran’s super powers, the essence of being a true football supporter, the need to experience the pain of defeats to truly appreciate the elation of wins, and being all-in with life.

MAA #035: With Nat Malcolm
Oct 02 2016 53 mins  
Interview with the considerate and charming Nat Malcolm, who is a country girl at heart and has been performing comedy in Melbourne for almost 12 months. Nat was part of a MICF show in 2016 with Angela Green, and is working toward her own show next year. You will often find Nat in one of the many open mic rooms Melbourne has running, including Station 59 in Richmond and Tago Mago in Thornbury*. We discuss: Connecting to other females in comedy, working in male dominated fields, empowerment of women, observational comedy, the role of self-esteem in mental health, “contagion” of mental health issues, growing up with dyslexia, family mental health, depersonalising hurtful comments from others, different types of intelligence, drugs and alcohol use as a teen, having her own liquor-filled bar fridge as a teen, moving out of home and into a “disastrous” share house, Nat’s challenge of living with other women, the simplicity of living with boys, friends with mental health issues, treating people with mental health issues as you would treat anyone else, Nat’s skill with sarcasm, pros and cons of the philosophy of “if you don’t laugh, you cry”, the impact of her grandmother’s death, advice to never live with a couple, Nat’s super powers, her knack of always being right, seeing the good in people, advice that manners are free, texting movie quotes to friends, and Nat’s message to treat people with respect and manners. *I looked up Tago Mago's after recording, go check it out in Thornbury if you can!

MAA #032: With Jo Bella
Sep 16 2016 63 mins  
Interview with the lovely Jo Bella, who was not a comedy fan at all back in her uni days, but now works as Comedy Producer and also has a partner who is a Comedian. Jo shifted from being a corporate high flyer living an unhealthy lifestyle to being a happier, healthier person working in the Comedy world. Among other achievements, Jo produced four Fringe comedy shows in 2015, and she has produced more shows this year. We discuss: The ‘normality’ of mental health issues, the model orphanage in Scotland where her Dad was raised, family mental health issues and losses, being the rock for her Mum, physiological vs environmental causes for mental health issues, impact of grief, the challenge of very mental unwell people not being able to access treatment, comedy as therapy for healing from trauma and a source of empowerment and catharsis, the benefits of exercise, family love of cooking, being in nature, the meditative process of running, leg pressing 100kg after 2 weeks of training, awareness of factors that impact mood, universality of self-doubt, connecting with friends for support via social media, the illuminating Clue app to track periods and mood (you’re welcome ladies!), sharing of grief, time for healing*, shame over ‘traditionally shameful’ things, the importance of reaching out, being vigilant about managing mental health, love of travelling solo, strengthening social connections, Sean’s activism and street medic work, empathy and alliances, picking your environment and pursuing your values, Jo’s super powers, and Jo’s message about the importance of talking to others, and to be weird and be yourself because ‘normal’ is the problem. *Special guest sounds from the cleaner and Bourke Street trams!

MAA #029: With Craig Coombsey Coombes
Jul 10 2016 62 mins  
Interview with Craig “Coombsey” Coombes, the creator of Naked Tuesday (there’s no space between the words if searching on Facebook) which is all about getting out of your comfort zone. Coombsey frequents the Comic’s Lounge as a punter, has appeared as a guest on Adam Hills Tonight (check out the footage here, and does a bit of specialised* stand up. These ventures into the comedy world came about after Coombsey was diagnosed with thyroid cancer four years ago. He had treatment including surgery and radioactive iodine, but despite all efforts it was found that tumours had spread and Coombsey was given an estimated 18 months to live. That was three years ago. In that time Coombsey has quite literally been living his life to the full, which was kicked off when his close friend Pete B got him started on a Bucket List. We discuss: Coombsey’s experience of the illness (which he thought was viral laryngitis in the beginning), the subsequent treatment and insisting on a timeframe when he received the bad news, the significant role his Mum played in how he received the news and in his general outlook, The Bucket List and how everyone needs a Pete B, the first time he met Adam Hills, the profound health benefits of comedy, family health history, family reactions and setting a positive example for his kids, dealing with the tough times, upcoming plans including comedy in Montreal and filming a DVD at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, the importance of his tattoos, Coombsey’s super power, and his message to make the rest of your life the best of your life. *Coombsey does cancer-related material, where he aims to have a laugh at cancer’s expense. Coombsey likes his audiences to have fair warning about who he is and what he’s about so they can be on board.

MAA #025: With Jaymie Wilson
Apr 04 2016 54 mins  
Interview with Comedian Jaymie Wilson, who started performing comedy in 2006 (14 February to be precise). He’s got several MICF shows under his belt (including one with guinea pigs), and he’s been performing Puppetry of the Penis for 4 years. Jaymie performs locally, interstate and overseas, and in his first year of comedy he did a staggering 506 gigs! We discuss: quitting real estate and getting straight into comedy, his awesome first gig - but bombing for the next 8 months, jumping right in the deep end at the interview for Puppetry of the Penis, being on stage in front of a large crowd just a few days afterwards, Jaymie’s personal relationship issues when a request for a paternity test showed up in the mail, the subsequent ups and downs of his mental state, the delay of results due to the legal process, how his stage partner deals with spontaneous erections, how Jaymie met his current partner in quite a memorable way, his parents’ professions and Dad’s unorthodox methods, addictive personalities and minds, drug of choice = comedy, 506 gigs in one year and reflections on the guy who beat that record, gig jealousy and stage anger, dealing with a period of depression, avoidance of drugs and alcohol, the constructive methods Jaymie uses to manage mental health issues nowadays, Jaymie’s super powers, and the message of not being afraid to be different, and sharing advice from Comedian Chris Bennett – make sure your act cannot be followed.

MAA #021: With Lainie Chait
Mar 08 2016 45 mins  
Interview with Lainie Chait who is new to the Melbourne comedy scene, but has always been hysterical to her loved ones! Lainie undertook a series of comedy workshops six years ago in Byron Bay with comedy mentor Mandy Nolan, and since then has been regularly writing comedy (and also a book!). In and around Melbourne, Lainie is doing open mics at the Imperial, Yes All Women in Richmond, and also has an upcoming gig in Daylesford. We discuss: The comedy scene in Byron, Lainie’s diagnosis of epilepsy at age 19 and the difficult road to accepting it, the big role of mental health in relation to epilepsy, different types and onsets, Lainie’s view of the triggers for her own onset, hiding the symptoms for four years, knowing intuitively that it’s not “just chemical” but emotional too, the fear and anxiety related to revealing her vulnerability, the self-fulfilling prophecy of anxiety, the conscious decision to not have children, the importance of trusting her intuition, the semantic difference between “you are epileptic” and “having epilepsy”, bringing epilepsy to the comedy stage, strategies for managing anxiety, never knowing how people might react to seizures, how her holistic approach has led to being 18 months seizure free, the “safety net” of seizure warnings, duty of care to self AND loved ones, Lainie’s book Electro Girl and the catharsis of writing it, Lainie’s super power of empowering people to feel comfortable about their flaws and finding the funny side of your human self, working on acceptance and finding a way to make it funny. As mentioned in this podcast, check out the Electro Girl page on Facebook, and Lainie’s book (also titled Electro Girl) when it comes out later this year.

MAA #020: With Chris Asher
Feb 27 2016 84 mins  
Interview with Chris Asher, who has been on the Melbourne comedy scene for about 6 months. He has performed at Open Mic nights, the Comic’s Lounge, The Brunswick Hotel, and also at Roast Battles which are on Sunday evenings at the Town Hall Hotel in North Melbourne. We discuss: Chris’ self-deprecating comedy style, enjoying the exploration of performing comedy, thoughts on RAW, self-analysis of Chris’ recent performance, the perils of reading your phone right before you perform, aiming to be comfortable on stage, a bit about The Podcast Formerly Known As, not being able to hold grudges, struggling with pressure from himself and others in a past job, reaching a point of burn out, a revelation while motorbike riding, the holiday escape after quitting, over-sleeping vs depression, the lesson of needing to be more aware of work-life balance, the emotional hangover from that period, the transition to self-employment and issues with motivation, the issue of not liking what you do, philosophy of eating the frog first, defining a “good job”, doing what you love so it doesn’t feel like work, counselling with puppies and kitties, the Cat Café in Melbourne, the new MAA segment called What Is Your Super Power?, Shae and Chris’ super powers, the power of self-belief, the law of attraction and goal-setting, the magic of the computer desktop background technique, Steffi’s magic Myki card, the importance of talking to people, the message that no one judges you as much as you think they are going to OR as much as you judge yourself (and most people just want to be supportive), and the power of venting. As mentioned in this podcast, check out, and

MAA #019: With Justin Fleming
Feb 06 2016 65 mins  
Interview with Justin Fleming, who has been in comedy for three years (his anniversary was last Tuesday!). However Justin does not do things by halves, and he has worked extremely hard to gain a lot of experience in his three years. Justin runs the workshops for young comedians on a Tuesday at the Comic’s Lounge, as well as Monday nights at the Lounge, and has introduced Roast Battles to Australia. Round #2 of the Roastbattle Downunder is TONIGHT (Sunday, 7 February) and Shae from MAA will be in attendance! We discuss: Justin’s background of being in a heavy metal band for 20 years and how it gave him stage/acting experience which set him up for comedy, Justin’s comedy style, growing up in Springvale, the point of the Roast Battles (ie, to use wit and insults in a fun way, not to take the jokes personally), his experience of anti-depressants when he was 17 (which didn’t agree with him), Justin’s breakdown which resulted in a hospital visit, how he came across Kundalini Yoga and meditation, doing a Vapashna meditation retreat (which meant silence for 10 days), reflecting on how everything comes and goes (including emotions), being on a more spiritual path, having high expectations of himself, Landmark courses, “wrangling” the comedy audience, philosophy on performing, the mental health issues of J’s parents, Justin and his brother facing identity issues, the Brotherhood of the heavy metal community, his views on the cliques and bullying in Melbourne comedy, Roasting and how it will help comedians to rapidly improve their craft, Justin’s view that life isn’t always smooth sailing and that contrast makes life good, the message that it’s OK to ask for help, learning how to stop playing the victim via YouTube, negative thinking and J’s vivid dreams, difficulty practicing gratitude, therapeutic experiences with mushrooms and understanding himself more profoundly, floatation tanks, the double edge of being on his own, how he obtained a medicinal card in LA, creativity with and without weed, breaking down the clique barriers and constructive criticism.

MAA #017: With Doug Chappel
Dec 13 2015 61 mins  
Interview with Melbourne based Comedian Doug Chappel who has been on the comedy scene for nearly 19 years and, among other gigs, MCs at the Comic’s Lounge every Monday. Doug is also passionate about studying Psychology. He has several degrees, including Youth Work, Psychology and Psychology Honours, and a Masters of Counselling. He’s also looking at further post-grad studies (maybe another Masters or a PhD). We discuss: Doug not planning to be in comedy but finding himself to be a natural one random day at the Espy, making mistakes and learning as he went, the psychology in comedy and reading the dynamics of a crowd, stage therapy, dealing with depression, the issues he faced growing up in Footscray, calling for more education and awareness about mental health issues, supporting a friend with anxiety, the violence of growing up in Footscray, the cycle of bullying, generational violence, how comedy and his partner changed him, Doug’s thesis on family violence, Sarah Ferguson’s Hitting Home documentary (on ABC), effects of violence on children, adults, families and the greater community, Doug’s second thesis on the role of gender in regard to violence, frustration with people who say “Why doesn’t the woman just leave?”, the impacts of gender inequality, the notions that perpetrators can be good people and that men can be victims of family violence – but the odds of the victim being female are so much higher, women being more likely to be attacked by someone they know and love (and yes men can be victims too), how victims can feel to blame, control/anger issues, the cycle of violence and how it escalates, attitudes and behaviours, benevolent sexism and the notion that gender inequality is reinforced by it, controlling behaviours leading to imbalance of power in relationships, sense of ownership and behaving in “unacceptable ways”, the Ramage case and provocation laws, Shae’s question about how best to advise/support women in counselling, assisting women to be aware of how certain controlling behaviours can escalate into violence, awareness of the warning signs, providing women with support networks, the call for society to provide more options and better fund services and laws to be changed, the call to do more to protect women, anger management for men, humans having executive function (and therefore the choice) to change attitudes, awareness of the bigger picture/other people’s perspectives, frustration re victim blaming, and providing support so people can help themselves.

MAA #016: With Mitchell Tinley
Nov 27 2015 81 mins  
Interview with Mitchell Tinley, Perth Comedian and one half of radio’s Mitchell and Michael Show (track them down on Facebook for more info). Mitchell started comedy two years ago and is putting on a Fringe Show with his friend Tor Snyder in 2016. The show is called Dating Naked, check it out if you’re in Perth at the end of January for Fringe. Mitchell will also be performing at Laughs For Locks (an event raising money for Camp Quality) on 4 December. We discuss: Comedy as the “un-happy” profession, comedy being a great outlet for mental health issues, the courage and bravery of “I’m funny, let me prove it”, comedy being very nerve-provoking and switching to “bullet-proof” on stage, Childish Gambino’s notion of turning a negative into a funny story, making jokes at funerals, laughter = medicine, feeling fake on stage, the comfort of having solid material, being a natural at radio, the contagious-ness of laughter (and grumpiness), the subjectiveness of comedy, Mitchell’s style of humour, keeping it clean vs swearing, philosophy around bombing (on stage), looking on the bright side of negatives and not running away from problems, metaphorically having eggs in different baskets, the grief process of a bad gig, philosophy of “as good as it can be is as bad as it can be”, being aware of the reasons for your actions, semantics of the word “depressed”, keeping things in perspective, the unhelpfulness of personalising and “mind reading” (ie, thinking we know what others are thinking – which is usually negative!), preference to at least give things a go (and possibly fail), reflections on RU OK? Day and asking for help, growing up with Harry Potter, jokes that transcend time, the “please like me” element of comedy, humans creating rules, the awkwardness of small talk, the near completion of his Media Degree, and playing pranks on radio veterans.

MAA #015: With Jez Watts
Nov 07 2015 57 mins  
Interview with Perth Comedian Jez Watts, who runs Infinite Jest, the weekly open mic & experimental comedy night, at the Flying Scotsman in Perth. He's also had some great opportunities in his 2.5 years of comedy, including opening for US comics Joe Mande, Esther Povitsky, and just this week, Duncan Trussell. Jez's stand-up is confessional and truthful, in a story-teller style. We discuss: Reflections on finding your comedy voice and honing his craft over time, learning more from failure than success, insecurity about receiving help and support, Jez’s other career in Neuroscience, overcoming unhelpful thought patterns in order to do the things he loves, a bit about Jez’s previous marriage (he’s now happily divorced and the relationship helped him get into the mindset that he could study), Jez’s study repertoire including molecular biology, biomedical science and biotechnology, an Honours thesis in genetic disease and starting his Doctorate in Neuroscience, starting the PhD and comedy at the same time and balancing the two highly demanding vocations, more about the thoughts and drugs that led to his marriage, the positive grounded-ness of his current relationship, what Jez has learned from previous bad decisions (and getting away with them), the reality that worst case scenarios rarely eventuate, Don’t Propose While On Crystal Meth!, philosophy and revelations of self-medicating, seeking a sensory deprivation experience, prioritising of his relationship and comedy, back to the (family) beginning: candid and insightful discussion about Jez’s Mum, self-protection and preservation, the difficulty of revealing the truth to his partner, reflection that most people have some level of mental unwellness at some stage in their life, comedy reinforcing emotional highs and lows, the idea that how you “should” feel – and feeling short of that – is its own trap, what’s important is working towards your own goals and focusing on your own journey (with the exceptions of being on meth and getting married in Las Vegas by Elvis while on LSD), Jez’s advice to DO MUSHROOMS (based on research data* that they can reduce symptoms of depression), and the adage that “neurons that fire together wire together”, ie. Negative thought patterns can reinforce themselves to repeat, as can positive thought patterns, so Jez avoids the negatives and rewards/reinforces the positive thoughts/behaviours. Jez will be doing his first solo show at the 2016 Perth Fringe, titled: Sex, Lies and Videogames. If you’d like to know more about Jez and where else to see his comedy, check out his website at *Research data not provided, but I did a brief search and found this info to start with:

MAA #014: With Bec Charlwood
Oct 31 2015 49 mins  
Interview with the lovely Bec Charlwood, Comedian (and self-professed IKEA Meatball Inspector) from Perth. I was very fortunate to catch Bec in person while she was doing a run of shows in Melbourne. We discuss: Bec’s recent tours of Melbourne and Sydney (and the scoop that she might move to Melb next year!), the connectedness of the Perth comedy family, poking fun at East-Coast-ers, mental health issues in Bec’s family (including depression and suicide), Bec’s consciousness of monitoring her own mental health, staying active and healthy with exercise, good diet and sunshine, the huge natural high from Zumba, the catch-22 of depression/lack of motivation and needing exercise to counter it, giving up personal training for comedy (conflict of late nights and early mornings), doing around 20 thousand steps a day working at IKEA, seeing signs of mental health issues in the comedy family (anxiety, depression, PTSD), supporting her friends (encouraging them to exercise,, eat well and seek professional help), getting “check ups” with a psychologist every now and again, the problem of pre-conceived ideas about therapy (eg. “What if I’m crazy?”), Man Therapy, checking in with friends and helping them to make an appointment with a professional, the commonality of thinking distortions, Bec’s pre-date “snowballing” (“What if he hates toes??”), Shae’s mani/pedi catastophising and general “Manicure Anxiety” (coined by Bec!), Bec’s surprising "snowballing" story from outside a nightclub, her even more surprising story about her first boyfriend (and talking about it on stage to help her come to terms with it), and Bec’s final message of encouragement to reach out to talk if you need it.

MAA #013: With Joe Patrick
Oct 24 2015 57 mins  
Interview with Joe Patrick, who is a Brisbane comedian on the scene for the past 4 years. Joe got into comedy for the right reason: to make people laugh and feel happy. Joe's comedy style is "blue", reminiscent of Kevin Bloody Wilson and Rodney Rude, and to date he's performed as far north as Cairns and as far south as Ballina. Joe will be heading to Melbourne and Adelaide in mid-2016. We discuss Joe's experiences of living with family members with mental health issues. Joe's Mum has depression and anxiety and recently resumed taking medication (after a period of stopping it cold turkey which had negative results). Joe's younger brother also has depression and anxiety, and has recently been experiencing some mood swings. Joe tries to be as supportive as possible, by listening, asking if they are ok and listening to their responses, and offering advice at times. Joe also has a friend who has three children on the Autism spectrum*. We also discuss how Joe interacts with the family, and how the parents manage their kids and their own mental health by taking respite at times. Joe's main message he would like to share is the importance of reaching out to, and connecting with, people with mental health issues. Ask your friends/family/loved ones if they are ok, and if the answer is no, help them to get some help from a GP, counsellor, hospital or phone support line (eg. Beyond Blue). And in particular, do not say "Just cheer up", as people with depression or other MH issues can't help it! *I mis-spoke around about this point in the interview when I mentioned the term "normal kids". What is "normal" anyway?? What I meant was kids who are not on the Autism spectrum (which is a term I used a bit later in the interview). Sincere apologies if I have caused any offence or upset.

MAA #012: With Brodi Snook
Sep 27 2015 58 mins  
Interview with Brodi Snook who kicked off her comedy career 2 years ago in the Raw Comedy competition while visiting her home town of Perth (and had to keep delaying her flight back to the UK in order to attend the advancing rounds and state finals). She spent some time on the open mic circuit in London before returning home in January 2015 to continue comedy in Perth. Brodi is also a writer, and has an article in the upcoming YAWP Magazine (Mental Health in Comedy edition). We discuss: Brodi’s five years in the UK and the differences in performing comedy in the UK vs Oz, the "life and death" of not sharing suicidal thoughts, big-name comedians modelling that it’s ok to discuss mental health issues and painful emotions, Brodi’s anxiety from a young age, experiencing anxiety about normal/everyday things, Brodi feeling at home on stage (and Shae feeling the opposite!), nerves when loved ones are in the audience, Brodi’s cathartic experience with CBT, thoughts on meds, Valerian and mindfulness, awareness of mental/cognitive states, vicious cycle of physical and cognitive symptoms of anxiety, how health professionals can help by explaining things differently instead of having to figure things out by yourself, enjoyment of CBT homework, a bit about ACT, Russ Harris and The Happiness Trap, mindfulness helping with sleep, Eckhart Tolle’s soundtracks, relaxation apps, Brodi’s change of perspective on exercise, Endorphins!, soothing sounds and smells of the ocean, the unhelpfulness of “shoulds” (and associated feelings of guilt), writing as an outlet/journalling to empty the head, encorporating experiences of anxiety into comedy, performing at the Perth Fringe and MICF in 2016, and the importance of speaking up about mental health issues.

MAA #011: With Bonnie Davies
Sep 27 2015 55 mins  
Interview with Bonnie Davies, who is a Perth comedian and also has an alter-ego named Famous Sharron. We discuss: Bonnie’s Laugh Or Your Money Back show in 2011’s MICF (and only one person asking for their money back), the next show I’m High On Life, What Are You On?, growing up with parents who were youth workers, memories of people from childhood, the Open Door policy at the Davies home, people experiencing the same things over and over (eg. Not being accepted, being neglected, not allowed to be themselves, sex work and drugs), people finding that drug dealers become friends and family, the table top analogy and Dad’s emotional bank balance analogy, old habits dying hard, the importance of perseverance, a house full of love, Mum being an Environmental Warrior and Dad writing his memoirs, Dad’s observation of a community disconnect over the years, Bonnie’s involvement in community organisations, Shopkeeper Kindness, falling into the Arts, work experience at Awesome Arts, early job offers, Fellowship in the UK and figuring herself out, being back in Perth and organising comedians, the bet that started it all, Raw Comedy, kids and school pressure, looking forward to the wisdom of being 50, Famous Sharron development, wanting to be Australian and change outfits a lot, inspiration from a Brisbane drag queen, a hard Edinburgh experience, being famous for no reason, Sharron’s trip to Melbourne, celebrity after-parties, 2015 being a great year/year of hard work, comedy being bad for mental health, Facebook being a “highlights reel”, always being honest about how hard things can be, the unhelpfulness of beating ourselves up, the role of forgiveness in success, speaking to yourself the same way you would to a friend (ie, kindly), learning from hard times, metaphorically climbing Mount Everest … and then climbing back down so you can climb the next mountain, recent experiences of losing people to suicide, the importance of reaching out and talking if you’re feeling down, finding out what works for you, and a little plug for Perth Fringe in February.

MAA #010: With Nicky Barry
Aug 21 2015 57 mins  
Interview with lovely lady comedian Nicky Barry, who is a self-described late bloomer in comedy as she first entered Raw Comedy at the age of 45 in 2011 (and made the state finals no less). She then returned to Raw in 2013 and has been gigging regularly around Melbourne since then. About 12 months ago, Nicky also became the resident comic at the vaudeville club Speakeasy HQ in Melbourne. We discuss: mental health in family life, Nicky's high-functioning dysfunctional family, alcohol issues in family members, Nanna's electric shock treatment (and resulting trauma), Nicky's main career in community development work, destigmatising MH, seeing people as people rather than a diagnosis, changes in language to describe mental health issues, reflections on memories of growing up, being a positive person by nature, personalising family issues as a teen, how childhood can consciously affect parenting, the different talents and experiences of Nicky's kids, monitoring healthy levels of self-discipline, the challenges of her youngest with Autism, mental health in the comedy community, bonding over humour, truth and vulnerability at the heart of the best comedy, time healing, the importance of having someone to listen when you need it, men vs women seeking help, issues in regional and remotes areas, the role of GPs, Man Therapy, the importance of learning more about a loved one's mental health issues, the universality of fluctuating mental health, investing money into community services, Kennett government cut-backs, Men's Sheds, Kennett now being Chairman of Beyond Blue, comorbidity of mental health issues and domestic violence, unemployment, Centrelink/DSP, homelessness, workplace support and incentives (eg. Job Share arrangements), government modelling, policitcal advising, making the most of free comedy, and getting out and having fun with comedy - with or without mental health issues.

MAA #009: With Jeff Hewitt
Aug 15 2015 69 mins  
Interview with Perth Comedian Jeff Hewitt, who has had a comedy career (in balance with his law career) for 11 years, and also has a podcast called Once Were Zombies. We discuss: Jeff's breakdown in the final year of law school and his subsequent diagnosis of depression, rebelling and dropping out of law school and starting comedy, tattoos and green hair, insulting a room full of bikies, triggers for his breakdown (ie, law school pressure, competitive peers, and unrequited love), encouragement to seek help for depression, how Jeff got into comedy, the co-dependent relationship with a messy break up, rediscovering himself, comedy being the "go-to place" after trauma, law and comedy being opposite but balancing careers, the dark side of Family Law (domestic violence, child abuse, financial battles), comedy = connector of people, positive outlook after being fired in 2011, the burn out of family lawyers, the oxymoron of "corporate social responsibility", "Triangulating", Zen and meditating on a black cushion, book: Zen And The Art Of Stand Up Comedy by Jay Sankey, childhood amibitions, being poorer but happier, getting into Family Law by process of elimination, inspiration from Geraldine Hickey, Jeff's show about depression called Reach Arounds For The Soul (2009), meaningful vs whimsical comedy styles, helping people vs being a cog in the machine, Once Were Zombies, Infinite Jest - the book and the comedy room, podcasting to cope with traffic jams, importance of a good home life, the benefits of meditation and plugging in to the universe to recharge, reading recommendations, cutting down on social media, getting out of your own ego, no matter how bad something is you never know what's just around the corner, and don't give up on yourself or Jeff will personally come to you to kick your ass!

MAA #008: With Frank Hampster
Aug 03 2015 63 mins  
Interview with Frank William Hampster, who has been crafting comedy since 2011. Frank describes himself as "a standup comedian, connoisseur, conspiracy theory expert and general bon vivant". He is also the Executive Producer of The Elegant Universe Radio Show, which you can catch 4pm to 6pm on Fridays on 94.1FM, and also on You Tube. Frank was in the Australian Army until 2011 and this interview contains very open discussion about his Army experiences and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)*. We discuss: PTSD (shell shock and war neurosis), jumping at shadows, the phenomenon of symptoms disappearing when Frank is on stage, being in the 4th year of a "comedy apprenticeship", Frank's breakdown in 2008, being in and out of a mental health facility, the Boxing Day Tsunami, preparation for warfare vs military response to civillian crises, humour as a defence mechanism, Oscar Wilde quote, philosophy re comedians telling the truth, occasional not-so-good gigs due to soldier-mode aggression, feeling of normailty on stage, Anti-Depressants, the slow return to work, "face leakage", stigmas in the Army, survival reason for protecting women and children first, sharing his view of Black Saturday, Psychiatrist and medication, benefits of exercise, coffee and cupcakes, eating habits, sleeping habits, relationships and MH issues, nightmares, not believing in ghosts but finding a way to cope with seeing them, middle name "Darling", empathy, understanding, tollerance and patience, recognising triggers, concern about soldiers not having access to mental health support ... slight interruption by colleagues following Frank's re-enactment of a trigger at Brisbane Airport ... Charity organisation Soldier On (check out their Facebook page), 'fight or flight' doesn't include flight in the Army, noise cancelling headphones, being proactive, avoiding self pity, reaching out to friends, cuddle/hugs therapy, strength inside comedians and love of the craft, killing and dying, connectedness within the comedy community, unhelpfulness of hearing "Harden the [email protected]$% Up", Generation X saying No to child abuse and gender inequality, resilience, love of children, Rosie Batty, comedy for coping and wellbeing, views on PSOs, Key message: Be tollerant and patient, just SMILE, working miracles, and the craziness of under-funding mental health. *WARNING: This podcast includes graphic discussion about war/battles, the Boxing Day Tsunami, and the Black Saturday bushfires. If you need to speak with someone about how you feel after listening, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

MAA #006: With James Masters
Jul 18 2015 61 mins  
Interview with James "normally funnier than this conversation*" Masters, who has been in the comedy game since 2008. Originally from Perth, his comedy career grew in Vancouver, Canada and you can now find him in Melbourne where he does stand up around the place, including 2 years running at the MICF. James also runs a couple of comedy shows in Victoria (Australia, not Canada). We discuss the high percentage of Aussies at Whistler, comedians seeing the world differently, observations and challenges of Bipolar Disorder, manic vs depressive states, major stage fright, experiences with suicidal friends, experimenting with variables to quality-test jokes, Steve Hughes, the process behind James' MICF shows, the trap of doing what other people are doing (rather than what you're good at), Oscar Wilde's quote, comedic influences vs developing your own style, comedy beginnings and creative outlets, phases in the early days of stand up, the love of the career, down-playing successes so you don't get a big head, and being kind when you flop, the brutality of Edinburgh, extraneous factors affecting a show and the stars aligning, views on MICF and the theory of quality control, gaining experience and learning on the job, alochol and drugs and bumming cigarettes, "unaddictive personality", Movember vs "Just Moustache", and weight loss as an incentive to periodically stop drinking. *I can attest to this, and you can find out for yourselves by checking him or one of his comedy nights out - look for Dirty Secrets Comedy Night on Facebook.

MAA #004: With Brad Richardson
Jul 04 2015 60 mins  
Interview with Brad Richardson, aka Rad Bitchin'son, who is a comedian and trivia host. You can find him on stage around Melbourne, particularly at the Comic's Lounge, or at the Mountain View Hotel in Richmond if you'd like to test out your trivia knowledge.We discuss: the double positive of his stage persona, comedians opening up about mental health, diagnosis of depression, pros and cons of medication, fear of being average, walking through treacle, being (like) Kardashian-like, more on medication, the wider range of emotions, the vicious cycle of depression, the challenges of fitting in exercise, 'fighting with one arm' analogy, the solo nature of comedy, self-praise vs self-doubt, fitting in helpful coping strategies, 'the false economy', team sports and injuries, the new puppy, keeping things in perspective, the Melbourne Soundscape, views on counselling, juggling plates and changing channels, importance of rapport, mental health initiatives, wearing masks, relaxation, golfing tantrums, being surrounded by technology and screens, driving as downtime, yoga and Headspace app, questioning the type of laughter, "Westgating", finding a balance, amplification of the negative, constructive criticisim, getting runs on the board to get better at comedy, pressure to give people their money's worth, the notion of perfection, the myth of the perfect gig, giving good advice to ourselves, and June Northern Month*. *Even though it's July, The Little Dum Dum Club (podcast) are extending June Northern Month for a little longer until they reach their 250th show. The money they raise goes to Beyond Blue, so to find out more and/or donate, head to their Facebook page: The Little Dum Dum Club with Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler.

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