Mental Health. Its something that is important. In fact, we even devote all of May to Mental Health Awareness Month. However, for whatever reason, mental health is not talked about all that much. It can be hard to be honest about struggling with your mental health. People feel ashamed, they don’t want to burden others with their problems, or a combination of many different reasons. Well, its time to get honest. I’ve gotten personal about my journey with cancer, but never about my mental health. However, its important to be honest about it. My friend pointed out to me that I should write about it. So, here I am…talking about it.
For almost my entire life, I’ve been dealing with depression. For most of that time, it was undiagnosed. About 10 years ago, I finally found out what was wrong and went on medication. I’m not one to talk about the glories of prescriptions. I don’t like taking pills, so the less the better. But I firmly believe that going on medication saved my life. And this was my experience. I know people who treat their depression differently, and that is their experience. I’m supportive of others who choose different methods of treating their mental illness. The good thing is that people try to help themselves feel better.
About a year ago, I found out about this initiative/organization called I Don’t Mind. It was started by Chris Wood, an actor from the show Supergirl. Melissa Benoist has also been a major face of I Don’t Mind. I Don’t Mind has a goal to destigmatize mental illness. After discovering this I started to become more honest about my own struggles. Its been great, as I’ve been able to be of service to people I know. People are more likely to confide in others if they know they have the same struggles.
But medication is not everything. There are things that I need to do on a regular basis to keep the lows not as low. One of those things is comedy. Stand-up comedy is near and dear to my heart. Laughing, for me, brings me out of my own head. And just the physical act of laughing releases endorphines. Over the last few years, one of the greatest things to come into being is Netflix’s presence in the comedy world. They started coming out with great comedy specials. When I’m having a bad day, Netflix can be my best friend. And, of course, I have my favorites. There are just some comedians that can make me laugh NO MATTER WHAT. And those are the ones that I always watch. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen it many times, there are just some that can make me laugh every time.
Here are my top 5 comedy specials that make me laugh, even when my depression doesn’t want me to.
#5: Dave Chappelle Dave Chappelle
*At the time of its release, Dave Chappelle was making a comeback. And this 2 part comedy special was so great. It left me wanting more. There is no wonder why it won a Grammy award.
#4: Chris D’Elia Incorrigible
*I love the show Undateable. It was funny and spoke to people that were perpetually single. I was so sad when they cancelled it. One of the stand outs on the show was Chris D’Elia. Chris D’Elia is creative with his comedy. Its not the same thing you hear out of other comedians. One of my favorite bits from this special is Drunk Girls. Its worth watching for that alone.
#3: Natasha Leggero & Moshe Kasher The Honeymoon Standup Special
*One of my favorite comedians has been Natasha Leggero. I love her almost apathetic view of life. And that she is always overdressed. My favorite style of comedy is observational, and she just delivers it perfectly. The second piece to this magical special is Leggero’s husband, Moshe Kasher. I first saw Moshe Kasher on the now defunct, Not Safe with Nikki Glaser. He was just so funny, and it made me wish he was hosting instead of Glaser. Together, they are even funnier. Their personalities play off each other perfectly and it makes you see why they are married.
#2: Ali Wong Baby Cobra
*One night, I was at the Hollywood Improv to see a show with Chris D’Elia and others. One of the comedians that night was Ali Wong. She was pregnant and incredibly funny. I identified with her comedy so much, especially as another Asian American. Shortly thereafter, her special, Baby Cobra, came out on Netflix. I was hooked. Her second special, Hard Knock Wife, is just as funny. There is always at least one moment in which I say to myself, “Is she reading my mind?”.
#1: John Mulaney New in Town
*What can I say? John Mulaney is the one comedian that can make me laugh so hard that I have to pause the tv and catch my breath. Yes, I think he is that funny. He is a former writer for SNL and frequently collaborates with fellow Georgetown alum, Nick Kroll. For whatever reason, everything he touches is just funnier. New in Town is one of three specials on Netflix. This was done in 2012 and is just as funny today. The highlight of this special is the Xanax Story, but beginning to end, this one just makes my day every time.
All of these specials can be found on Netflix in addition to many others.
This is just my experience with depression and mental illness. No one has the same exact experience. There is no one treatment that works for everyone.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or other mental health issues, please seek out the advice of a medical professional. None of us have to go through ANYTHING alone. Please see links to resources below.
I Don’t Mind – Mental Health awareness program
Mental Health America – Nonprofit dedicated to helping those in need with Mental Health services
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Lifeline # – 800-273-8255