Chris Gethard Opens Up About Being A Stand-Up Comedian With Anxiety


Chris Gethard's new HBO comedy special "Career Suicide" doesn't exactly sound like a laugh riot on paper.

The comedian details his history with anxiety and depression in graphic and grim detail but somehow manages to keep you laughing throughout his stories of therapy and pharmaceuticals.

Gethard has been open about his mental health before — he even devoted an entire episode of his talk show to discussing mental illness with guest Maria Bamford and anyone who wanted to call in -- but his new special is so much more deeply personal.

It's full of raw, emotional stories from the darkest moments of his life, which must be incredibly difficult to write and perform.

I caught up with Chris at the Tribeca Film Festival screening of "Career Suicide," and he detailed the arduous process of performing the personal show.

It was hard. Probably the first 10 or so times that I did it I'd get off stage and I would just be like 'Why am I doing this?' But I just kept doing it and found that even though it was very hard, people kept coming up to me after the show and saying 'That actually kept me going' or 'That actually speaks to my experience.' And I was like 'Oh, there's something here that's different from the stuff I've done before.'

One of the main threads in the special is Chris' love of comedy was able to help him deal with a lot of his dark moments. But doesn't a stand-up comedian with anxiety sound a bit antithetical? How can an anxious person enjoy standing in front of a bunch of strangers and divulging his whole life's story?

According to Chris, he really only truly feels comfortable when he is on the stage performing his stand-up act. He explains that although all eyes are on him, he still feels like an outsider pointing out details in the world.

It's kind of the only thing I do where I actually feel comfortable. I think there's a bunch of comics that might say similar. I think at the end of the day, when you're doing stand-up you're commenting on the world, so you're kind of an outsider. You're on the outside looking in, pointing things out. So it kind of makes sense in that way.

"Chris Gethard: Career Suicide" premieres on HBO this Saturday at 10 pm ET.