Episode 3- Chris Gethard
Episode transcribed by Michelle Lincoln
Sofie: Hi and thank you for listening to the Made of Human Podcast, MoHPod. I’m Sofie Hagen, I’m a comedian and I’m doing this podcast because I don't know how to be human, I don't know how to function, I feel weird, I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere and I want to speak to people that I respect and admire and I want to find out how they do it, how they do life because I don't know, I don't know anymore. I thought I’d find out when I turned, you know, I don't know, 25. Then I turned 25 and I was like, “Oh, I’ll find out by the time I'm 27.” Now I’m 27 and, you know, just by sheer analysis of my life so far, I think I can safely conclude that I’m not gonna find out ever how to function, so instead I’m just going to talk to people that I like and maybe together we can figure out a way and if we can’t, you know, at least we can connect and talk about how life is a bit weird sometimes. So that’s what this is about.
In this episode we’re gonna talk to Chris Gethard, I’ll get to that, he’s fucking brilliant so thank you for tuning in, I know you, I mean, holy shit, can you, holy shit, I got Chris Gethard, holy shit, right? I don’t know how, I don't know why, I think, I think we’re quite similar in a lot of ways and I think he could sense that and that, I appreciate that a lot.
I quickly wanna say thank you for giving this podcast a five-star rating on iTunes, it meant that we went to number nine on the comedy podcasts lists on iTunes which is incredible and huge and I’m so grateful and I’m so happy because I love this podcast so much and I’m so grateful that, that you’ve decided that it’s good enough to give your attention to so thank you so much. I quickly just want to say that I’m going on tour and here are the, I’m just going to list quickly the cities that I’ll be playing and I will probably mispronounce most of them. I’m just going to quickly say them: Newport, Newcastle Frome, Selby, Wrexham, Leamington Spa, Harlow, Crawley, Aberdeen, Elgin, Lincoln, Aylesbury, Bristol, Brighton, Sutton, Guildford, Maidenhead and Oxford. And I know that my tour people are looking in to me doing Liverpool as well. So if you live in any of those cities, tell me how I’ve mispronounced them. Oh, someone said that Frome was pronounced Froome, right? They must have been wrong. Froome, but it looks like Frome. Froome, hmm. In one of those cities, I will be doing my new show Shimmer Shatter, so for tickets go to sofiehagen.com and if you want to help this podcast out, go to iTunes and give it a five-star rating and leave a nice little comment.
Now to the episode. In this episode I speak to Chris Gethard, I’m a huge fan of his. We both did shows in Edinburgh this year, I went to see his, he went to see mine as well after the podcast and there were similarities, we both talk about therapist in our shows and I was so excited to talk to him about that because both of our therapists are a bit alternative, they have alternative methods and Chris was just lovely and, yeah, I hope you like it because I loved it. He is doing a podcast of his own called Beautiful Anonymous and I can highly, highly recommend it, especially if you like stuff that gets a bit dark. Please go and listen to the episode called I Married a Monster, I was, I mean, I had to listen to it over several days because I couldn’t hear all of it at once, it was incredible, he’s incredible and I hope you will enjoy this. So thank you for listening and I’ll speak to you afterwards.
Sofie: I love, your show had stories about your therapist.
Sofie: And you must have this a lot, you must have a lot of people coming up to you, wanting to tell you about their therapist.
Chris: I have a lot of people telling me about their therapist and then the real fascinating trend is I’ve had therapists see the show who come up and tell me that my therapist is, give their opinions on her. And one, during this run, I had, there was a couple, there was a husband and wife and they were both therapists and the guy was like, “Your therapist sounds amazing,” and the woman was like, “You are in danger, get away from her.” So that’s like, pretty, they showed me both extremes but that’s happened a few times, both here and in the States where other therapists will offer their opinions and that’s eye-opening.
Chris: But, yeah, when people see the show, they sometimes tell me about their therapists and then I have some people say, like, “I wish I had a lady like that in my life,” so that’s nice to hear. But, yeah, the really interesting ones are when other psychiatric professionals react to her because it’s always, it’s never just, “She sounds fine,” it’s always one extreme or the other.
Sofie: Yeah, I have, because I’ve had two, the first one was, well, she probably wasn’t awful.
Sofie: To other people but there was just nothing where, like the first time, I would tell her everything that was wrong with me and then she’d go, “OK, draw a tree.” “What? No, it’s like my dad left, can we talk about that part of it?” And she’d go, “Draw a tree,” and then I would draw a tree and she’d be like, “Oh, are you lonely?” I’m like, “No, I’m fine,” she’d be like, “No, but, you know, you only drew one tree, trees are in a forest, so you must have no friends.” I was like, “This isn’t working, this isn’t working at all.”
Chris: Oh, good gosh, oh, good gosh, yeah, that’s…
Sofie: So I do feel that, like that importance of liking someone.
Chris: That story, it makes me feel exhausted just hearing that, yeah.
Sofie: Right? Yeah, it’s so important to find that…
Sofie: …that right person.
Sofie: You talk about that in your show as well.
Chris: Yeah, I think that’s one of the big things in my show is finding this lady who fits me, even if she’s kind of a crackpot by many people’s definitions. But what you just said reminds me, I did, I did a few shows around like the East Coast of the States to get ready for this. I’ve been working, I’ve worked on my show for about two years now but I did few tune-up shows right before I left and a woman came up to me after a show in New Jersey and she was like, “You know, you have to get away from your therapist, I’m actually, I'm actually a psychiatric professional and she’s really dangerous,” and she was like, “Actually, if you want to come and see me, let me know.” And I was like, “OK,” I’m like, I had no plans on leaving but I was like, “Alright, what’s your deal?” And she’s like, “I do sand therapy.”
Chris: I was like, “What is that?” She’s like, “You know, you move around sand and it’s very therapeutic,” and I’m like, “I think, I think I’m gonna stick with what I’ve got.”
Sofie: I mean, I feel bad about laughing because it might work for some people, you know.
Chris: Exactly, I’m like, if it works for people, it works for people and that’s great but I’ve got somebody who works for me and I’m pretty thrilled about it, so.
Sofie: Yeah, well, the same way with the one I finally found, she’s a bit spiritual which I’m not really that, at least I was when I was a teenager and I would have arguments with my boyfriend at the time and she’d be like, “I mean, could it be, I’m just going to throw this out there, could it be that just maybe you knew each other in a past life?”
Chris: Oh, boy.
Sofie: And I’m like, “No, I think it’s because my dad left me.”
Sofie: Can we talk about that?
Chris: Yeah. I’ve actively like yelled at my therapist, like I have a podcast back in the States and she listens to it and I recently had to say, like, “Hey, our therapy sessions can’t be you like reviewing episodes of my podcast. We can’t spend 30 minutes of you telling me what you thought of this week’s episode of my podcast, like, that’s not what I'm paying you for. I’m glad you like it but we can’t sit here and talk about this thing, it’s not appropriate. It’s not a good use of time or money, more importantly.”
Sofie: It’s an amazing podcast, I just started listening to it.
Chris: Thanks, thanks.
Sofie: I saw your show. My housemate was already a big fan of it and I didn’t know it existed and now I know.
Chris: Oh, that’s cool.
Sofie: It’s, do you want to explain it to the people who don’t know?
Chris: Yeah, it’s called Beautiful/Anonymous and basically I just like take a phone call from some random person. I tweet out a phone number, they call and I just commit to the fact that I won’t hang up for an hour and they can say whatever they want and they stay anonymous. And I thought it was going to be mostly like kids prank calling me and messing with me but instead it got, like, turned very quickly into people kind of just like opening to an ill-advised degree and it’s been fascinating. It’s been a little frustrating because, like, I’ve been a comedian for 16 years and you know you’re just like desperately trying to get your name out there, get people to know your work and I’ve done all these different things and then this came out and it was kind of an idea where I was like, “Yeah, we’ll see, this seems like it’ll be easy to do and I don’t need to book guests and all this stuff,” and then it kind of blew up and now I think it’s fair to say it’s like the most popular thing I’ve ever done which is really nice but also a little bit of like I’ve worked so hard on so many other things that went nowhere and this was a thing that I honestly just like farted out the idea one day and now this. But it’s nice, it’s really nice and I don’t begrudge that and it’s nice that, I’ve met a lot of people here in Edinburgh and that’s really cool but it was a little, I was like, when it blew up, I was like, “Come on, this? I’ve worked so hard on the other stuff I do.”
Sofie: Do you think that, in terms of reactions to this show, because it’s a, would you call it a dark show or a deep or how would you?
Chris: I’d prefer dark to deep.
Chris: I think it’s definitely dark, I’ve worked really hard, I think like my biggest priority has been trying to like, like just making sure it’s funny first, like that’s really what I care about. A lot of it, like, a lot of the reason I started doing this material was because when I was opening for Birbiglia, we’d just be on the road and out in the States, like, some of these, like, you can drive for like four or five hours between gigs, it’s just boring, you know, you’re just like driving through cornfields for four hours and we’d just like tell each other a lot of stuff. And he asked me one day, he’s like, “You know, I’ve heard you joke about the depression but what are the real stories?” And I told him the car crash story and he was like, “Dude, that’s hilarious, tell that on stage.” And I was like, “Nooo, are you out of your mind?” And he said, “If you can make that funny, it’s like, you’ve got something special on your hands.” And I took that as a challenge and I went and started doing it but I’m like, I don’t really have an interest in being profound or even really making a point, I just kind of feel like the best I have to offer is like humour and I do, I do kind of know, like, I don’t mind the fact that, like, it maybe gets through to some people in a different way and I’m really proud of the fact, actually, that I’ve had some people come up to me and say, “Oh, I saw a shrink for the first time after I saw your show,” or like, “My kid’s doctor said he should be on medication,” someone once told me that, that their kid’s doctor had recommended medication and like, “No, he’s just a kid, we’re not putting him on those pills,” and then they were like, “We’re going to be open-minded and remember that’s a doctor from now on.”
So, like, things like that are very, very cool but I am of the mindset that like the only way I can help facilitate things like that is if my show is as funny as possible because I’m not, I haven’t really researched anything, it’s just my experience. So the more punchlines I get, the more laughs, that’s just to me the more valid it becomes. And also I feel like if I try to like get up and say like, “I dealt with this stuff, it’s hard, the attitudes towards it were pretty, like unforgiving and made it more difficult than it had to be,” like if I went up and I just was like venting that anger, I think it would be, a lot of people who don’t want to have that conversation would be, they would never show up. But if I can make the show just super, super funny to the point where, you know, word of mouth could be, “It’s a really, really funny show, it’s also kind of dark and about the serious stuff too but it’s funny,” then you’ll get some people in the room who wouldn’t want to listen to what I have to say but they’re down to laugh. So that’s kind of, I just want it to be funny, I don’t, I don’t want it to be anything else and when it is and when it goes there, I’m happy about it but I just want to make sure it’s funny, funny, funny, funny.
Sofie: Have you thought, have you thought about how, because I know there’s a few times in your podcast when men call in, a lot of the times they seem to say that they haven’t shared the stories with anyone else and there’s something about you being a man, talking about depression…
Sofie: …that’s so not allowed by, you know, society’s standards for what you’re meant to be as a man.
Sofie: And you’re probably moving some, some real serious boundaries there making, you know, because men will go into a comedy show which could be a manly thing and they can still be the manly men that they, you know, air quotes, meant to be, and then you’re a man talking about feelings.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, luckily, like, I’ve never been an alpha male, you know, ever in my life but then I’ve also kind of always had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder where I'm like, no, I’m not just going to like sit back and, you know, be seen and not heard. So I think there’s like a, I think I walk a fine line where it’s like I’m able to go on stage and be like a confident person owning his opinions but also say, like, “Yeah, I cried yesterday.” But then I think there’s definitely a part, you know, I talk about in the show how New Jersey is kind of this like tough working-class place and I think it’s like, “Yeah, I cried yesterday but so what?” Like, I think I’ve always had that vibe and maybe it’ll help get through, you know, and I think, I think there is, I don't know about, you know, I’m ignorant to a lot of the rest of the world but I do think in the States right now there’s a little bit of, like, especially in comedy, you have things like, you know, Amy Schumer and Broad City and Girls and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and like a lot of these female-helmed shows with like, you know, protagonists and writers and producers that are like very motivated strong women and I think that that’s like very much moving the needle in a feminist way, which is really cool to see, but I also think that boxes out some space for like dudes who aren’t meatheads to maybe, you know, I think it’s like, almost kind of like stretching the spectrum and there’s like a little bit more of a space allowed for some breathing room for, you know, more, more, you know, your more feminine but still straight men, you know. I think that that’s like a thing that’s becoming a little bit more acceptable and, yeah, I think, I think I fit right into that slot and it’s interesting to see people’s reactions to it. That being said, like I said, with the podcast like a lot of the, a lot of the listeners, because they do surveys and stuff, and a lot of the listeners are female, like it’s not necessarily men that are ready to hear a vulnerable man right now. I’m a vulnerable man and women are embracing that a lot more than men but we’re getting there, we’re getting there.
Sofie: Yeah, it might end up being 50/50.
Chris: Someday, who knows, you know? And even, I feel like, I feel like at the end of the day, as long as it’s hitting people in the gut, even if it’s a slow burn, then maybe I can, maybe I can do some good and put some stuff out in the world and give people a little breathing room. That’s always, like, I’ve always kind of had that like, that idea with my comedy of like, I wanna make, like I remember the things when I was young that made me feel like I wasn’t completely insane or just a total weirdo and I wanna try to like make stuff that maybe can help some people who are young now feel that way. Like I think that’s, as far like, because I’m a pretty, you know, like I said, underground cult act in the States but I do think the people who rally around me are like, “You’re like 15 years older than me and you wound up OK somehow, alright, nice. That’s the, that’s what I can aim towards, just being OK in 15 years, great.” So that’s a nice, that’s a nice role to play in some people’s eyes.
Sofie: I have a, I usually, I usually ask people the question on this podcast where I ask them what they would say to themselves as a baby, if they could give themselves as a baby some kind of, like a reassuring sentence, like, you know, “You’ll be OK, you will, you know, develop some, something that will make this all OK,” which I’ll definitely ask you that at some point but whenever people give themselves advice for themselves as a baby, it’s usually something that they could still use, you know?
Chris: Oh, yeah, big time.
Sofie: They’ll be like, “Oh, stop thinking about what people think of you,” and I'm like, “Are you there yet?” And they’re like, “No.”
Sofie: So I guess what I’m trying to say is, did you, was any part of thinking of this podcast, was that you knowing that you either now would like for that to be an option for you, you know, if you could have, if there as a medium where you could call someone anonymously and just talk about whatever you wanted to talk about. Is there an aspect of that?
Chris: I’m sure that on some level it’s a thing I wish I had, yeah. But I think, I think there’s truth to that, I also think on my podcast, I think, there’s like a real, you know, there’s just such a culture of celebrity in general and especially in the States which is what I’m familiar with and like, I feel like, like as I’ve gotten more successful, like I have a talk show, a chat show I think they call them, here in the States, and we’ll have celebrities on, and it’s like I have the TV show and I’m bringing them on but I think how I always feel and how the viewers of the show feel is I’m a lot more like the viewer of the show than the celebrity. Like I always feel like I’m like, like a very, very regular person that’s somehow slipped into this role.
So I think with the podcast, I think, I think that what you’re saying is true but I don’t think it comes from an emotional place, I think it comes from more of a place of like, I actually think regular people are really, really interesting and, you know, I really love a lot of shows where celebrities get interviewed or where well-known comedians talk to other well-known comedians, I love them, I love them. Like Marc Maron, Pete Holmes, I love those shows, they’re great but I did notice, like, I remember being a kid, you know like, I remem-, like when I was a kid and like you’d go to, you know, you’d go see a band play. You always had that fantasy in your head of like, “I wonder if they’re gonna play that one song,” and then you have that thing of like, “Maybe they’ll like see me singing along and they’ll just like put the mic there and I’ll get to sing this song.” You always have that thing of like, “What would happen if I got to do it?” And I think, I think one of the things we had in my podcast was this idea of like, “What if you just heard from regular people as in-depth and laidback as like you heard from celebrities on some of these shows?” I don't know if there’s as much a place for it and I think that was kind of the instinct I was acting on. It’s like, let’s get some regular people up on a platform, so regular that you don’t even need to know who they are and like they’re, it’s just random, it’s actually randomised. They’re not booked because they even have an interesting story, it’s just they saw a tweet and they just picked up the phone. I think that that’s like a thing that is kind of being left behind. I also think, I don't know, sorry I ramble so much in my answers, by the way.
Sofie: Not at all.
Chris: But I also think there’s something to be said for like the politics of the day in the States too where like, you kind of like see how negative everything is and you see how like Trump has such a foothold and it’s, you know, it’s pretty scary but, like, I think one of the things I’m sensing more and more as I talk to people is like, I think regular people just feel like kind of left out and nobody’s really asking them what they want. It’s like a lot of people telling them what they’re supposed to have or telling them what they need, there’s no real, I feel like there’s a lot of frustration right now. I think most of the people who call my show, I tend to get the sense they’re just frustrated about one thing or the other and I get the sense that there’s just a lot of people who feel like nobody’s actually slowing down to ask people like me how we’re doing or what we want and that’s been like a really eye-opening thing about the podcast.
Sofie: I guess them being anonymous gives them a bit more, you know, if they had been superstars, they may not have, you know, told the stories they would have told because then they would have been blown out of proportion and they would have been a big news story.
Sofie: When, you know, sometimes maybe, you know, some of them could, I mean, in theory, some of them could be celebrities that just wanted to be anonymous. That’s a far-out thought, but you know what I mean?
Chris: Oh, yeah, they could, who knows? Maybe I’ve talked to Timberlake on the phone and never even known it, you know? But the anonymity goes a long way and also, like, you talk to people who are just like telling you things where you know like, like I talked, probably the darkest call for my show, there is a woman who called up and told me that she was married to a guy and found out he was a child molester while they were married and it’s like, “Oh, my God, that’s a horrible thing, that’s such a horrible thing.” But like, I got the sense that it meant a lot to her to just be able to unload every opinion and not be judged because it was anonymous and you realise like, you never think about that, of like somebody shows up in the news for something terrible like that, well what about, what happens to all the people around them who had no idea? That sounds like it sucks. So, like, I was glad, I was glad to give this woman some room to vent about something that horrible, because it’s just like, whoa, that’s like a fascinating story for me to hear but also you’re just a lady who dealt with this thing and who wants to listen? Nobody wants to listen, she’s like, everyone’s like, she said everybody’s like, “You must have known,” she’s like, “I didn’t!” Nobody wants to hear it and I'm glad that my show is this place where I’m like, “I’ll hear it, it’s a tough conversation to have but I’ll hear it.” And I don't know, it’s like, it’s just like regular, I just find regular people really inspiring and like view myself as very regular and the more, the more I’ve been getting close to actual success, the more I'm kind of on this constant desire to just not change that about myself.
Sofie: To be a bit anonymous.
Chris: Yeah, and also just like, like… just like a normal person. I think, I think one of the things about my career is like everyone I started with, almost everyone has either faded away or gotten very successful. I’ve been doing it 16 years so not much middle ground, you know. And I’ll say, like I see a lot of my friends get successful and they just like are happy and they have families and that’s cool but I’ve seen a handful of them where really like, like, really I would say, like kind of corrupts them. A few people who I like really have so much love for in life, where I'm like, “Oh, we can’t even have a conversation anymore because everything’s gone to your head,” and I’m like, I’m kind of like, I’d rather not be successful if that’s what it would turn me in to, so constantly trying to like push against it. Like walking that line between, I don’t want to sabotage success but I want to make sure I don’t ever get caught up in it because that’s just hollow, that’s just not real, you know, so.
Sofie: Can you see yourself, because you seem like you’re quite aware of yourself and your feelings and everything you are as a person, because I think that’s a part of what therapy does to you, it really puts you in touch with who you are…
Sofie: …to the extent where you almost feel a bit predictable and boring.
Sofie: Can you see yourself being caught up with success and maybe fame?
Chris: I think there was a stretch where I definitely could of, like when I had that sitcom, it got really nuts like, because, you know, I was the lead in this show and it was just like there was so many people whose job it was to just like facilitate me doing this job. Like I’ll never forget once, I like said, I was like, it was like in between takes and I was like, “I feel like I’m coming down with a cold or something,” and maybe 35 minutes later, they like called halt to everything and a doctor was there and gave me some weird shot and I hadn’t, I had just said this to like one of the other people acting but I had a mic on and someone heard it and word went around and they got a doctor there to give me like basically, not like steroids, but like a big injection of vitamins and I was like, “Oh, that’s crazy, that’s crazy.”
Chris: And it made me realise, like, that’s why a lot of people, like if I wanted to do a bunch of cocaine or become an alcoholic, like there’s people whose, there’s people whose job it is, not stop that, because that would cost us time and money, going to a rehab centre would cost us time and money. There’s people whose job it is to make sure I'm propped up enough to make it happen. And then you look at comedians where that happens, where people fall into all this like crazy self-abuse and you’re like, “Oh, right, there were definitely facilitators along the way.” Like you look at Chris Farley and I’ve, you know, I read the book about him and stuff but you know, you know there’s people who, there’s people alive right now who knew that guy was in trouble and their job was to prop him up and keep him going and not actually help so there is that and I sensed that in a big way. And also like, it was so weird because I got that show and, and there was a bunch of press about it and then we were, we were filming the show and I knew it was not good, like I was aware, like, “I don’t think this is good. Like maybe it will be, my gut tells me this is not going to go well,” but just getting the press, it was like girls in particular, it was just like women started becoming really forward and like, I’d always been a pretty shy guy, I’d never really been much of a dater and I was single that year and it was just like, “Oh, this is like,” like if I signed on Facebook after midnight, somebody would start flirting with me, it was like crazy but it’s all because I was like, you know, it was like I was the flavour of the week, I was like a hotshot for that year and that was one where I was like, “Oh, there’s just so much temptation,” and success brings with it, it just becomes so easy to have people just hand you whatever you want and there’s so many people who have a financial interest in looking in the other, looking in the other direction if that’s unhealthy.
So I definitely kind of like went down this road in 2010 where, for about six months I saw, this is what it’s like when you make a lot of money and girls are kind of like throwing themselves at you for like, even though it’s kind of like, you know it’s kind of empty and vain and this is what it’s like when there’s like people who will, you know, just take care of whatever you need. And I saw it, I saw it up close so I know the temptation of it, and I know this is a long answer but I think the short answer to your question is like, yeah, I think there is. I think I did need to really have like a soul-searching stretch of life about is that something I would fall into, is that something I want? Usually I don’t judge it, if people want to go, like, if somebody wants to go and become super successful and do a bunch of cocaine and like live that life, like, I get it, I get it, I see what’s fun about that. But I have to really say like I don’t want that, I want to do stuff that’s like smaller, personal and I think I’d, I think want to like aim for, aim for like, you know, a boring life, in a good way.
Sofie: But also the people, if your, if your people, if your audience are these, like are the weirdos and misfits, like I’ve found, like that’s my people, those are my people too and I’ve found, during this festival, my audience, they come on the Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they don’t like to go out on the weekends amongst drunk people.
Chris: That’s awesome. I wish I had that.
Chris: Yeah, I think for, I think, I think my first year, I think people are figuring me out but, yeah, I definitely feel the midweek lull but that’s so awesome to hear. I do feel like if this was in the States, I’d be getting that too. I will say too because I saw, we did Fast Fringe, no, we didn’t even do it together, I just dropped by Fast Fringe and I saw you there and I was with a friend of mine and I immediately was like, “That girl’s the shit.” Like if we came up in the same city, we’d be pals. I could just tell, I could just tell that it was like a similar like, “I’m going to say this thing that’s pretty personal, might make you uncomfortable, now here’s a joke about it,” like I really, really enjoyed that.
Sofie: Well, our shows are basically, like, my show’s about my therapist and how amazing she is and my show last year was about my depression, I still mention it in this one, it’s part of the show.
Sofie: I was like, you talk, because when I first started writing my show, I had so much about my therapist, it was almost exclusively about her and then I edited it and put some other stuff in and stuff so now there’s limited amount about her but I almost regretted it when I saw yours, I was like, “No, she deserves so much more, like, time, my therapist, because she’s so incredible.” And they had this, like there was, because you talk about yours being a bit quirky.
Chris: My shrink is, you’ll love this, my shrink emailed me, she’s reading all the reviews.
Chris: It’s really inappropriate, right? It plays right into the stuff I say about her in the show because none of the reviews like go really in depth about her but there’s a few that’ll say like, you know, “The real star of the show is Barb, like, his therapist back in the States,” and she’ll like quote that. And there was one that mistakenly called her Babs which I think might be, I think that’s a thing in the States but I think that might be a little bit more of a nickname for Barbara in the UK, I’m not sure.
Sofie: Maybe. I don't know.
Chris: But this review called her Babs and she quoted that, so I’m like, “Oh, she’s reading all of them in depth, she’s not even just checking in.” She’s like for real, she’s for real reading every single thing about it, which is again, not, not appropriate by the traditional standard, yeah.
Sofie: Not appropriate, no.
Chris: I mean, there’s no world in which I should be writing a show about my shrink, there’s no world in which she should be reading the reviews of it. She said, oh, you’ll love this, in New York, one day we had a session, via Skype, as you know from having seen my show, and she goes, “So, another one of my patients went and saw your show and told me all about it.” And I was like, “What? That’s not OK.” She’s like, “Yeah, no, a patient of mine is a comedy fan who knows you and I said you’ve gotta go and check out the show.” I'm like, “Your other patients shouldn’t know that I’m a patient of yours,” like, especially, not that I’m a huge star in any way, not that I’m even well known in any way but like as someone who is a public performer and a public figure, on any level, you can’t tell other people that I’m your patient, you can’t, and they come see my show. And she was like, “Well, he really said you nailed me, so sounds like you got it right.” Everything about this is so strange, just so strange.
Sofie: Whereas my therapist saw my last show.
Sofie: And she, and in my show I said, I just, you know, it’s all about this, the fact that she was amazing and she saved my life and stuff, and then afterwards she was like, “You didn’t have to add that just because I was in the room.” I was like, “No, no, I say that in every single show because it’s really important for me to say.”
Sofie: And then this show has so much more about her and I’m so nervous about how she’s gonna…
Chris: Is she gonna come again?
Sofie: I mean, I’ll invite her.
Sofie: She deserves to, you know, because I’m going to do a little tour of Denmark, so I’ll give her free tickets if she wants to. Last time she brought a lot of her therapist friends.
Chris: Oh, that’s awesome.
Sofie: It was very nice.
Chris: That’s awesome.
Sofie: But this one is a lot about, and I actually don’t know if the thing I tell about her in the show, I mean, I don’t think it’s a secret but I think she’s very humble about. So basically, it’s the end of the show, no-one cares, but it’s, I found that she, because my dad, it was a bit of an effort to make my dad pay for her. My mum couldn’t afford therapy for me so my dad finally agreed to pay for her, reluctantly. And then after I’d seen her for five years, then I saw her again in February after I hadn’t seen her for five years and I found out that she has, because we were talking about charity and I was a bit like, “Well, what do you, how do you support charity?” And she said, “Oh, I have patients for free,” and I was like, “Oh, that’s amazing.” And she was like, “Oh, it’s fine, I like you.” I was like, “What?” She’s like, “I thought you knew, your dad stopped paying after six months.”
Sofie: She thought, she just thought I knew and that…
Chris: So then you had to have five more therapy sessions about that revelation.
Sofie: She saw me for free for four and a half years.
Sofie: Yeah. That is, that never happens, right?
Chris: Wow, that is a saint.
Sofie: That is incredible. She’s the, and I say that in my show and it’s kind of, it’s at the end and it doesn’t get a laugh because it’s not funny, it’s just beautiful. But I just don’t know because she was so humble and I was like, “Oh, my God, oh, my God, you do this? That’s incredible.” She was just like, “Oh, no, it’s fine, I’m fine.” But I was like, you can’t not, you can’t not say that to someone.
Chris: Yeah, you’ve gotta give her credit on that.
Sofie: That’s, just the fact that that person exists.
Sofie: But I don't know how she’s going to react, she’ll be humbled to her debts. Probably send me an invoice.
Chris: Yeah. I told, I told my shrink before I was coming here, because I knew I’m like, I know there’s going to be reviews, and my show’s picking up steam, it’s gonna have this run in New York, hopefully someday it might wind up on TV or something, you know? And she’s known for years I’ve been working on the show, she sent someone to it but I finally was like, “Listen, I need to know like if I can use your real name still?” And she was like, “Yeah, no problem, I don’t care,” and her name’s common enough, especially in the north-east, there’s like a lot of, it’s like a stereotypical thing, like a Jewish therapist named Barb, like that’s not uncommon in the New York area. So she was like, “That’s fine,” and I was like, “I, I think I should just like tell you every joke in the show,” and I went through them all one by one and she was like laughing at some and then some she was like, “But you’re leaving out this piece of information,” I’m like, “Right, but that’s how jokes work.” I don’t want to spoil it for you but like there’s the joke about how my parents drove her home one night and she’s like, “But did you mention that like I had completely thrown my back out?” And I was like, “No, that’s not funny, if people know you had a bad back.” It’s funny, it’s still, it’s still not, she’s like, “Yeah, it’s still not appropriate I got in the car with your parents but, like, it’s a little bit more of an emergency.” I was like, “Yeah, but that’s not funny.” So she gets all that and I went over all the jokes with her and then at the end, I was like, “So is all of that OK?” And she’s like, “Well,” she’s like, “I’m a little concerned because there’s like a couple of things where the way you’re phrasing it, like, could be argued I actually did some stuff that’s illegal,” she’s like, “And I’m not saying I didn’t but it’s, I’m definitely like crafty about how I do that stuff so it’s a little troublesome,” but she’s like, “At the end of the day, I think I’m retiring soon anyway,” and I was like, “What?!” Like, that’s how she told me she’s planning on retiring. It’s like, “What are you talking about?” And then she said, “I’ve stopped taking on new patients and then as people move on, one by one, I’m not taking any more,” and, yeah, and so I have it in my head too where it’s like, “I want to be the last one.” I think I want to be the last one but she’s said, she’s like, “Maybe I’ll come see the show some day and that’ll be like the end of our time together,” and I was like, “That sounds so crazy,” but.
Sofie: It's hard, it’s hard, like I’ve had, like when I decided, when we decided to not see each other anymore, as therapist and client, she –
Chris: Oh, you don’t see each other anymore?
Sofie: No, well, we stopped but then I started seeing her again this year but then I stopped again. It’s kind of, I don’t really want to admit that it’s over, I’m like, well, I could still call her at any time and we’d see each other again.
Chris: Yeah, for sure.
Sofie: But, you know, she basically, towards the end of the sessions, because when I found out that, I was like, “Oh, my God, I’m so,” it’s so huge and now I feel guilty about even seeing you again because I don’t want, you know I’ve taken this for free and stuff. And she’s basically said, “Listen, out of the years I’ve been your therapist, the last two years, I was never your therapist. You would walk in and you would say, ‘This is my issue, this is what I’m gonna do about it, what do you think about that?’ And I would say good and then you’d leave.” So I would like self, whatever, psychology myself.
Sofie: Just this stubbornness.
Chris: Yeah, that’s cool.
Sofie: So she was like, “You were fine, it was fine to work with you.”
Chris: It’s weird, like, it gets, it does get to a point where, at least it sounds like in both of our cases where it’s like, at the end of the day, like, I’ll pay a couple of hundred bucks a month to just have, like, a friend who no-one else in my life knows.
Chris: It’s like sort of what therapy is for me. It’s like I’ve got this friend and I talk to her on Skype once or twice or month, she just happens to be a Jewish lady in her 60s who now lives in Mexico but I can just tell her anything and she’s not going to rat me out to anyone else. Like that’s mostly what our relationship is now, it’s like I can vent about other people in my life and situations in my life and if I sound like shitty, sorry, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to curse.
Sofie: Oh, please, feel free.
Chris: But if I sound like shitty or entitled or like I'm being a baby, she’ll just tell me that and no-one else in my life needs to deal with it, like that’s kind of what it is for me now. But I’ve had, like, my wife, one of her good friends is a therapist and he takes it really seriously and he’s like, “Dude,” he’s seen my show, he’s like, “Dude, like.” The first time he saw my show, he was like, “It’s not OK,” he was like, “It’s charming and it’s funny but it’s not OK.” And then I saw him a few months after that and he was like, “I’ve actually been thinking a lot about your show,” and he’s like, “I’ve come around.” Because he’s like, “All the rules exist to like get you to a certain place of comfort and your shrink is breaking all those rules and it’s really maddening but it’s like getting you to the place of comfort that all the rules are meant to protect.” So he’s like, “So I’m actually, begrudgingly, accepting of what you’ve described now.” And I was like, “OK, alright, alright.” But I know for me, like, if I had to go in a room with some man who was like, would ask me a question and then I answer and then he just like stares at me and then asks another question, that would never, ever, ever work, I’d feel so uncomfortable, so uncomfortable.
Sofie: And I bet you also get the sense that she wouldn’t work for a lot of people.
Chris: Oh, big time.
Sofie: And I feel the same way, like, I, but I also know I’m a difficult person to deal with and in terms of psychology and stuff, I feel bad for the other psychologists I saw that they had to deal with my teenage, stubborn, annoying self.
Sofie: But I totally get that of course, I mean, some people just need something that’s a bit different.
Chris: Yeah, big time, big time.
Sofie: I would recommend her to everyone I knew that needed a psychologist, which, you know, I’m in this business, it’s a lot.
Sofie: And they would just not click with her and they wouldn’t, they’d just, you know, and she would not click with them and she’d say, “Oh, I know exactly who you need,” and she would give them, you know, my sister tried to see her and that didn’t, that didn’t really click so she found another one for my sister. But that’s just how it works, that’s…
Sofie: Same with like friendship and love and business and everything else, you just don’t click with everyone.
Chris: Yeah. I actually found her through another comedian, I have a comedian friend who’s, he’s an improviser in the States but he’s actually a doctor, he’s like an emergency room doctor and I was in like a crisis point and I called him and I was like, “I don't know if you have any colleagues who work on like the mental side of things,” and he was like, “Actually, like, I know this woman and she’s an oddball but you’ll be able to get an appointment quick and I think she’ll fit your vibe.” And I just went straight to her and I’ve never looked back, never looked back. And it’s funny because it’s been like, it’ll be like nine years this Fall that I’ve been seeing her and I think about so many of the things that I used to like rant and rave about and now I call her and a lot of times it’s boring because I’ll just be like, “Nothing’s going on, this is a waste of time, I need this hour in my day to get stuff done today,” and she’s like, “I get it.” But then I think about how stressed out I was about some family stuff, about some professional stuff, about a lot of, you know, a lot of the, a lot of ways that I just kind of wasn’t clicking, not even with the world but like with myself, where I wasn’t, I just wasn’t, you know, handling anything and I think back and it’s like, I feel like a totally different person and you really realise like, it’s like a slow process but this person helped me kind of grow into my own skin, it’s like a cool thing to look back and realise long term.
Sofie: And then it doesn’t matter how they did it, just the fact that they did it.
Chris: No, I’m alive and I’m married now and I’m happy most of the time and I'm not comparing myself to everybody else’s success and I cut people I care about a lot more slack than I used to and I’m not self-sabotaging all the time. Like, I don’t care if it was medically appropriate or ethically appropriate if I got there, I’ll take all of that, I don’t care. I don’t care if we did it the right way, I’m never, who cares about that? [Laughs]
Sofie: This little, I sometimes, this is embarrassing, and I don't know how normal this is, I will, my best friend, she never listens to her answering machine because she doesn’t know how to figure out technology. So sometimes I’ll call her and if she doesn’t pick up, I’ll just rant, I’ll just talk.
Chris: Like you use it as therapy.
Sofie: Into, yeah, into her voicemail, just talk and talk. I know she’ll never listen, just talk until it goes, “Beep!” And then, “Oh, that was it, that was it, I just needed to talk out loud,” because to people in the street, you know, I’m just having a conversation with someone who doesn’t get to say a lot.
Chris: Yeah, that’s a pretty good technique.
Sofie: Yeah, that’s a really…
Chris: I don't know if I have any version of that, I don’t think I have my own version of that but I wish I did, I wish I did.
Sofie: Like little coping mechanisms.
Chris: Yeah, yeah.
Sofie: You must have little things, there must be something you do. I mean, maybe just, maybe stand up or maybe having your podcast is a way of.
Chris: I think so. I do have a couple of things that I do and one is a thing that my shrink told me, like, because you know, I look back and realise she started so small and there’s a couple of things that I do that aren’t as specific as yours but one that she told me that really changed things for me was she was like, whenever, like, New York it’s all subways, you know? She’s like, “Whenever you get off the subway,” she’s like, “I never want you to walk from the subway to your house the same way,” she’s like, “I don’t care if it takes you 10 minutes longer, I want you to just walk around,” and that really helped me because I was like in such this routine that I wasn’t happy with but, you know, you become routine, you don’t see anything and then, all of a sudden, you’re like walking down a block you’ve never walked down before and you’re like, “Oh, there’s this thing here, I never knew this shop was here, I never knew this building had this like weird statue out front or whatever,” and it just started to wake me up.
And then another thing I’m really good is like when I’m stressed out, I will try to specifically have, like, an hour or two where I just turn off my phone, where I'm like, “Alright, this is just for me and I’m never going to tell anybody about this next hour.” If it’s boring, great, if the most beautiful thing in the world happens to me, I don’t care if like, like if, you know like if George Clooney jumps out from around the corner and punches me in the face, I’m just not telling anyone what happens. I need a thing, I need an hour for myself, this is just an hour I get to have. And it’s not shady, it’s not because I’m going and doing anything crazy or, you know, dark, it’s just I need to keep something for myself, especially as someone who puts his whole life out in public. It’s like, yeah, no-one, no-one, no-one needs to know about the next 90 minutes, I'm just gonna take it and have it for me. So it’s like a weird little like selfishness there that I give myself once in a while and that’s a good coping mechanism.
Sofie: I’ve gotten advice similar to that which is mostly about, like, oversharing, going, you don’t need to tell everyone everything.
Sofie: Which every fibre in my body is arguing against, “No, do tell everyone everything.”
Chris: Yeah, what if it’s funny? What if it gets a laugh?
Sofie: What if they do not know you well enough if they don’t know everything there is to say about your life?
Chris: Yeah, but then I wonder if you have this too because I think, it sounds like we have a similar approach to the stage but like sometimes people say to me like, “Wow, you put it all out there,” and I’m like, “Oh, well, imagine the secrets I keep.” Like imagine the shit I’ve done that I don’t admit to or I don’t talk about out.
Chris: You can just imagine, oh, no, I have secrets and in fact, sharing this much is probably a way for, for me, for you to not look into them. If I tell you this much, you’ll just assume it’s all out there and then I won’t have to untangle like the really dark stuff that I’ve, that I’ve dealt with.
Chris: And that’s, that’s another good thing about, but it’s like I go back and forth on that because I’m like, maybe on some level hiding stuff is unhealthy but on another level, maybe it’s like, you know, like, I'm owning stuff so hard and feeling like I’m on top of stuff so hard that it gives me the breathing room to maybe unwrap some of that other stuff that I’m not ready to share yet and this show actually, it’s funny because the show I'm doing here, over the course of the 26 days, I don't know, I feel like you saw it a little while ago but there was a stretch in 2007 where I straight up used to say, “I won’t talk about it, it’s not funny, I’m not ready to put it out there.” And in the past week or so, I’ve started like putting out more and more details of it. Every time, I’m like, [Inhales and exhales deeply] “OK, I shared a little more tonight. A little more tonight.” And it’s that thing of like, you know, like these jokes come from somewhere that is very real to me and is very visceral to me and sometimes still emotional to me and it’s like, like, that car crash story happened in 2001, I didn’t start talking about that on stage until 2014 and there’s a reason for that, you know? And it’s this weird thing of like, some of the secrets you do have or some of the things you don’t share on stage, it’s not even necessarily that they’re so dark, it’s like no, well, the stuff I'm doing right now is kind of like strengthening my muscles to be able to some day also talk about that and that’s a very strange, that’s like a thing you only realise long term, I think, as you, as I put in more and more years where I’m like, “Oh.” A lot of my comedy and a lot of my stories tend to have happened five to ten years in the past and that’s not strategic it’s just because that’s when I’m ready to talk about stuff, so it’s weird.
Sofie: I also feel like it’s not, in terms of uncovering things, I sometimes feel like it’s not just about me, so that, you know, there’s a fine line between I’m ready to talk about it but it doesn’t feel, I'm not too comfortable with it yet and then knowing there’ll be people watching the show that are like me but five years ago who will get something out of hearing this story.
Chris: Yeah, that’s like the most gratifying thing.
Sofie: Yeah, that’s when you go, “Oh, it’s good that I shared it.”
Chris: I actually thing the most gratifying thing is like, I really go, I feel like I kind of go, I mean, for me, I’m a very mild-mannered guy but at the end of my show I think I really kind of go into attack mode and try to really get through to people who are around it and the most gratifying thing, like, I kind of realised, I was saying this to my director, because my director just started on the show, it’s so nice to have an outside eye on it after doing it for a couple of years. But we were just kind of like talking about some different like aspects of the show, goals with it and I said, I was like, “I think the main thing for me with this show is like, I’d love it if while we’re in the room and I'm doing the show, other people who have dealt with this stuff feel like this guy’s really talking for me and speaking to my experience.” But long term, like once they leave, I want it to really stick in the brains of the people who are like, “I have a kid or I have a brother or I have a friend who deals with this stuff.” And if those people get something out it, I think that, to me, is the thing where I’d be like, “Hell, yeah,” like that would feel good. Like I had a girl, I did the show in New York for a while, I used to do it like once or twice a month since 2014 at a space in Brooklyn called Union Hall, great space.
Sofie: Hmm, lovely.
Chris: And, oh, you’ve been?
Sofie: Yeah, I’ve been there twice. It’s wonderful.
Chris: Oh, that’s awesome. It’s great, it’s a great space and you can see like, this show, they go with it there. And this girl came up to me afterwards and she was like, you know, “I used to date this guy and he had depression and we were really young and I thought he was just kind of like a cry-baby and it was annoying,” and she’s like, “I feel really bad,” because she’s like, “Your show’s really funny but it also made me realise like I don’t think the way I left that relationship helped at all. I think like I just kind of got frustrated and peaced out and I feel really bad about it.” And I was like, “Well, first of all, like it is annoying. Like, I think a lot of the women who’ve dated me would say it was very annoying to deal with a man who gets sad for no reason or angry for no reason, like, yeah, don’t feel bad about that because that’s a valid reaction.” And then I said, I was like, “Look,” I was like, “Are you still in touch with the guy?” She was like, “No,” I was like, “Why don’t you just email him and tell him what you just told me, I bet it will mean a lot.” She was like, “Really?” And I was like, “Yeah, I bet if you sent that guy an email and said, ‘You know, we’re a few years older now and I realise that still was tough for you and the way I left, like, I needed to leave but I kind of did it in a way that I can see was probably a little too harsh,’ it’s like I bet that would just go a long way, or it wouldn’t, but either way I don’t think it’s, I think it’s good that you want to like reach out and have that conversation.” So when I do the show and I hear things like that, I’m like, “OK, great, great, great, great, great.” Because I think about a lot of, like, my parents didn’t know how to deal with it, they didn’t even know how to talk to me about it and I’m not mad about that, they come from a generation where this is like a very confusing thing and, you know, I was raised Catholic where it’s just grin and bear it, drink away your problems, whatever it is, Irish Catholic. And they didn’t know how to talk about it, I’m not mad at them about it but I do have it in my head that if I can make a show where parents, like mine, get a little bit more perspective, that would be huge, that would make me feel great.
Sofie: I did my last show here in Edinburgh, on the first day I did it, I mention depression and being a weird teenager and my therapist, my last show, and after the first night, I was standing at the door saying goodbye to people and this girl was 14, 15 years old maybe, this tiny girl came up to me and she said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m a bit weird and I don’t really like myself and your show has made me feel less alone.” I was like…
Chris: That’s it, that right there.
Sofie: I don’t need anything else.
Chris: Yeah, the only bad part of that story is it happened night one. You want that, like, right at the end so it’s a triumphant end.
Chris: But I guess winning the award is a triumphant end as well.
Sofie: It was the second-best part.
Chris: There you go, there you go.
Sofie: That’s it. So, say, OK, so you have yourself as a baby and you know, I think there’s something really symbolic about, you know, babies and, you know, they’ve been inside this nice comfortable womb and then they’re out and they’re screaming because it’s light and it’s loud and it’s awful and I think will always, there will always be times during our lifetime where life will seem that way and maybe we can remember, maybe we can remember what it felt like, like when it was too loud, it’s too much, it’s too bright. But if you had yourself as a baby and you knew what this baby was about to go through, up until the point where you’re at now in your life, if you could say something to the baby, if you could tell the baby what kind of tools you’ve developed or comfort it in some way or just, what would you tell little baby you?
Chris: Well, I can think of three things, if that’s OK.
Sofie: Of course.
Chris: I think the biggest one is I’d be like, “Just don’t stress about stuff that doesn’t matter.” Like stress out by all means, you can’t help that, you’re a stressed-out person, but just like really take a step back and think about if it matters because I think I just wasted a lot of time in life stressing about stuff that if I thought about it for 10 seconds, didn’t matter. And I mean like, for long stretches of time and you don’t get that back, so I would say that.
More specifically to my experience, I’d really encourage that baby, there was one girl in college who I really fell hard for and it was years of pining for this girl and I’d just say, “Don’t do it, just walk away, it’s not going to work out. When you realise that, stop, stop hoping, stop going for it, you’d have more fun, you’d have more fun in college.” And that ties into the don’t stress about things that don’t matter and be willing to let things go.
And then I think just on very basic life advice, one thing that I’ve learned as I get older and older is just never feel bad about having someone in the entertainment industry pay for your food, just don’t feel guilty about that. Any agent or manager that wants to like buy you food, order expensive stuff and don’t feel about it. They don’t care, they have expense accounts and they’re trying to razzle-dazzle you by showing how much money they can throw around so make them throw it around, don’t just settle for like side dishes and like very plain chicken dishes. Go for the seafood, get a dessert, get a couple of drinks, spend those people’s money because they’re, you know, there’s a lot of times, as artists, where we have to chase them and their approval and meals is like the one thing where we get to just like remind that like, “No, no, no, we make, like you’re here to facilitate our careers and you’ve gotta butter us up too,” so I’ll get, and it ties into the first one, stressing about things that don’t matter.
The first time an agent bought me a meal, I think I got like a side of spinach and that was it, because it was such an expensive restaurant and I felt so guilty spending that money and I really wish I didn’t because I think the creative artist agency that that lunch was with, they could definitely, I should have ordered like two whole lobsters because they could have afforded it and that’s one of the biggest regrets I have is any time that I didn’t just let, let wheelers and dealers on the other side of the entertainment industry spend their money on food for me. I'm not saying take cash out of their hands, at lunches specifically, dinners specifically, get a side dish, again dessert, why not? Even if you only eat half of it, these people love excess, they love it. Show them that you can go there, it’ll imply to them that you’re ready to make a lot of money for them to spend it for them, even if you’re not, never turn down a free meal. Never, ever, ever, baby, turn down a free meal.
Sofie: That’s perfect, thank you so much.
Chris: Thank you.
Sofie: Do you have like links to the?
Chris: Yeah, I mean, for touring dates it’s chrisgeth.com and then you can find links to all my other stuff there and, you know, Chris Gethard on Twitter and Facebook and, you know, the sad for me but easy way for you to remember that is it spells out the words Get Hard, so Chris Get Hard is how you can really track me down. So there’s no other Chris Get Hard’s out in the world, so if you just Google that, it all comes up. And thank you for having me, this was a good conversation.
Sofie: Thank you so much for doing this.
Chris: Please, my pleasure. My pleasure.
Sofie: Thanks for listening. Could you hear me be all weird when he said that we would have been friends if we’d started out in the same town. I got weird, I think I blushed, I just changed the topic because I, ugh, he’s so sweet, I want to be his best friend. Can I, do you think I could be his best friend? Is it too late? It’s probably too late. He’s great, thanks for listening.
There is, and I didn’t want to mention this at the beginning, because this is a brand-new podcast, I am 100% sure that I’m going to keep doing this for a very long time but I still thought it was too early to like ask for money. But I do have a Patreon account, so it’s patreon.com/mohpod M O H P O D. If you do want to, you know, say yes to giving some dollars a month or per episode then, I mean, I’d greatly appreciate that but there’s no pressure, it’s still a new podcast. And, you know, I’m enjoying doing it. If you want to help in any other way, go to iTunes, give it a five star rating, that does mean an awful lot and yeah, share with your friends, share it with everyone you know who also don’t know how to be people, you know. There’s a lot of us and I think it would be good if we got together a bit more because I think we need each other. So even if we don’t feel comfortable amongst people, it’s good to know that they’re there if we do need them, right? That’s fair enough, isn’t it? Thank you so much listening and I will see you next week.