‘Addiction can be funny’: the standups tackling drugs, booze, psychosis and self-harm on stage

Rich Hardisty cut himself, Harriet Dyer numbed her pain with drugs. A new wave of comics are working out their issues in their acts. But is it really helping them? And should we be laughing?

The first and maybe only rule of comedy is that it has to be funny. But how do standups manage to wring laughter from life’s darkest moments? Rich Hardisty’s new show, Silly Boy, tackles his experience of mental illness, self-harm and anorexia. “Who wants to sit and hear a guy talk about that?” he asks. “But if I can tell you something funny, and drip those bits in, you’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, good point!’ You’re more open when you’re laughing.”

Without those laughs, he says, his show would be “an ordeal”. Instead, Silly Boy is an absorbing hour in which Hardisty approaches psychosis and bipolar disorder with a surprising lightness. “I wanted to do a show where I got people to feel what it felt like. I want to show how we’re all just a series of events that shape who we are. We’re not as in control of our brains as we think.” Silly Boy explores how difficult childhood experiences led Hardisty to harbour a “compulsive” urge to hurt himself, escalating from biting the inside of his mouth until it bled to cutting himself so badly he was hospitalised. His mental pain eventually drove him to try heroin, although he avoided becoming addicted.

Continue reading…

Category: Mental Health