Interview with Sydney Musician and Podcaster, Andy Dowling. Andy is a member of metal band LORD (www.lord.net.au). Andy is also a podcaster: check out The Andy Social Podcast (www.andysocial.net), where he interviews musicians and other equally interesting people to discuss their views on life.
We discuss: Clarity of thought and staying in the moment, acceptance and mindfulness, life hacks and time tactics, the benefits of tuning in to your body, communication and active listening, the ego of musicians, a novel way to overcome stage fright, the psychology of musicians, appreciation for open-mic comedians, being the king of tangents, mental tenacity and memory devices, Bert Kreischer’s machine story, Andy’s super power, the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI), and Andy’s message to be more present and mindful with other people, and to respect others’ opinions.
Interview with Skruins from the Skruins and Co Breakfast Show podcast, which is a Melbourne based podcast full of funny segments and witty observations, and aims to find the funny in people’s lives. Check it out on iTunes, Shae from MAA was on episode 143.
We discuss: The highly anticipated Aqua Donut ride, the origin of Skruins, neuroticism and anxiety, questioning life choices while stuck in traffic, worry about narcissism, potential diagnoses, punk music as an outlet, how seeing your partner as a loveable idiot can be beneficial, learning languages, why Skruins hates real estate agents, Skruins’ Mum’s theory on having kids, super powers, terrible pick up lines, being good at winging it, controlling our narrative via social media, imagining what anxiety feels like, the only reason we should have guns in Australia, being toilet shy, and Skruins’ message of being kind to the people you love, and trust that others are doing the best they can.
Interview with the animated and affable Ashley Fils-Aime, who has been performing comedy for 20 years, and has lived in Melbourne for 3 years.
We discuss: The subjectivity of mental health, anxiety about flying and frogs, dealing with his phobia, spider stories, comfort factors while flying, the Fearless Flyers course, the heroism of hairdressers, being mindful of what you feed your brain, views on music, the power of thinking positively, comedy via hologram, Ashley’s super power, natural vs normal and wanting vs choosing, the power of words, and Ashley’s messages: don’t be too hard on yourself, don’t compare yourself to others, and try not to need anything so you can be set free.
Interview with the lovely Perth Comedian with a Canadian accent, Tor Snyder. Tor has been performing for 4 years and runs the Fremantle Comedy Factory, which was voted best comedy room by Perth comedians in 2016. She recently performed in the Perth Comedy Road Trip at the MICF, a show which incorporated sketch, comedy and improv. Tor also runs comedy workshops, and she's totally swipe right-able.
We discuss: the challenge of understanding mental health issues, learning about communication from an early relationship, the pros and cons of drinking, philosophy of Just Go Out And Have Fun, the transition in her comedy, the Dating Naked show with Mitchell Tinley, being comfortable with herself, the ups and downs of the dating world and falling in love, the biological clock, the subjectivity of attractiveness, opening doors of opportunity, Tor’s super powers, lying vs improvising, and Tor’s message about the importance of talking about your issues and being honest.
Interview with Dunkeld Comedian Ben Gaylard, who has been performing for 2 years and made it to the state final of RAW this year (well done Ben!).
We discuss: The impact of a recent suicide on the local community, the ups and downs of life with mental health issues, depression getting the better of people who complete suicide, mental health support in the country, Ben’s sexual assault at the age of 21, Ben’s views on the court system, choosing to move to the country, the need to live life to the full, self-care activities, practicing comedy on cows, dealing with thoughts of self-harm, Ben’s super power, Teddy Roosevelt being the universal trivia answer, and Ben’s message to reach out and talk to someone if you’re feeling suicidal.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Martin Samuel Dunlop. Go see Martin and his buddy Bec Petraitis perform their MICF show called Burn The Witches, running at the Butterfly Club from 14 to 24 April. Also check out Martin's list work online at www.nihilisticles.com
We discuss: The high prevalence of anxiety and depression, getting stuck in negative cycles, writing for theatre and Channel 31, comedy as an identity and motivator, Martin’s experience of therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), pros and cons of medication, fear of being perceived as boring or self-important, the complexity of playing multiple characters in the one show, the ups and downs of comedy and the perils of wallowing in a bad performance, Martin's website, the best joke, views on the Bourke Street Tragedy and the Sydney Siege, psychopaths and personality disorders and murderers, revising the DSM and the Bible, identity issues, end of life counselling for Trump, dealing with death and people living in God Mode, Atheism and Karma, Martin’s super powers, and his message to ask the opinion of someone you trust if you aren’t sure about your mental health.
Interview with the creative and candid Sofie Prints, who has been performing comedy for about 5 years, and has two MICF shows this year: Mary’s Abortion, Sofie’s Choice: The Death Of A God (from 29 March to 9 April at Station 59) and the murder mystery spoof play called And Then There Were Not As Many (from 10-22 April at Highlander). Go check them out if you can!
We discuss: Mental health issues being the new norm, stories of family mental health, scepticism about diagnoses, being a difficult teen, sharing her grandmother’s name, grandparents being prisoners of war in the Dutch East Indies, her grandmother’s eccentricities and family emotional abuse, growing up in regional NSW, Beef Week celebrations, her primary school principal now being in prison, COW FM, faking amnesia to escape to the city, difficulty making friends, getting kicked out of the school reunion, not-so-fond memories of Brisbane, living across the road from Bill Bailey, gradually getting into comedy, studying Art Therapy and Fine Arts, comedy friends, and her message to find your crew, and to come to see her shows during the MICF!
Interview with Geelong Comedian Jake Budge, who has been performing for about 3 years. Late last year Jake reached the accomplishment if 100 comedy gigs (and at time of interview he was sitting at 118 gigs). Catch Jake hosting and performing a comedy gig on 16th March at the Unwined Wine Bar. Possibly while wearing an animal costume!
We discuss: comedy being a way to express himself, patches of depression, being bullied, studying Aged Care, support from close friends, short film about disabilities leading to NDIS work, balancing the day job with late nights of comedy, growing up with a disability, going to Germany as a teen, dealing with negative emotions, Jake’s journey into comedy, views on stage craft and performance, getting out of your comfort zone to grow as a comedian, Jake’s super power, the inclusiveness of the comedy community, and Jake’s message to believe in yourself and never give up.
Interview with Adelaide Comedian Georgie Carroll, who very graciously made time for a chat during her flying visit to Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. Georgie started comedy about 6 years ago, and now travels all over Australia to perform. Georgie has a 2017 MICF show called Gauze And Affect, which you can see at Fort Delta from 28th March to 8th April.
We discuss: How Georgie got started in comedy, the origins of her comedy festival show, the martyrdom of nurses, the lack of mental health support in Australia, kids with anxiety, episodic nature of depression or anxiety, restrictions on hospital patients, problems with ice, patients presenting with hopelessness, improvements in the Adelaide health system, lack of funding for “unfashionable disorders”, Melbourne moving the homeless, The Melbourne Look, having a strong sense of adventure, assimilating into Australian culture, having a happiness barometer, swimming in the sea on NYE to gather perspective, preparing for her kids to enter teenage years, Georgie’s super power, and her message to be kind to others.
Interview with Sean Bedlam, who is a Melbourne Comedian and Political Activist. Sean is currently doing his comedy via social media, and has a video series called The Furore coming out soon.
We discuss: The love of performing vs reality of performing, being informed to inform others, having a breakdown in his 20s, the limits of mental health support provided by Centrelink, classism and mental health treatment, Sean’s sunstroke episode, self-care by stopping what he’s doing, choosing not to fight negative thoughts, acting on things in his control, the problem of paranoia about what others are thinking, family issues, receiving the message that sadness is weakness, reconnecting with his Mum later in life, having to let people go and managing guilt, challenges from childhood and from growing up in a war service area, secrecy/violence/suicides/shut-downs, enjoyment from pointing out injustices, having the gift of the gab, showbiz people always trying to fit in, emerging signs of fascism, some dos and don’ts of self-care, the importance of daily exercise, the joys of Nexflix and reading, message that if you don’t want to meditate, don’t!, and to take stock of life every now and again.
Interview with Cherie Smith, who started comedy about 2 years ago as a way to meet people after moving to Melbourne. You will often find Cherie at open-mic rooms or the Comic’s Lounge, and she appeared on the ABC’s Hard Quiz last year. Cherie also co-runs the Comedy Women’s Association room every 3rd to 4th Tuesday in Footscray – follow the page on Facebook for upcoming dates.
We discuss: the pros and cons of taking a redundancy package, burn out, feminism and making a point with her comedy, awareness of triggers, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, situational mental health issues, running her own race, the ebb and flow of emotions, acting in accordance with values, workplace injury and emotional abuse, handling suicidal thoughts, the benefits of counselling, not apologising for tears, hating vulnerability, the 7 habits of highly effective people and the circle of influence, Facebook misery and hope, confirmation bias, the Mr Rogers meme, the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, love of Tai Chi, comedy & socialising, the benefits of cutting back on alcohol, the ice epidemic in country Victoria, Cherie’s super power, and her message that you are never alone and make sure you talk to someone if you're struggling.
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.
Interview with Classical Musician Ben Turner. Ben is a Bass Trombonist who lives in Berlin, and we crossed paths recently as Ben is visiting his hometown of Melbourne. Ben has a podcast discussing all things mental health, called Double Depresso, and we did a double recording: You can listen to Ben on MAA here, and Shae’s Double Depresso interview will be out soon.
We discuss: Berlin being still under construction, orchestras and other musical work, worry from projecting forward, problems with Perfectionism & the Imposter Syndrome, the “I’m not enough” story, the frog in boiling water analogy (sorry frog fans!), reflecting on rock bottoms, drugs & alcohol in classical music, the bigger picture perspective, views on having only one teacher, positive feedback and accepting praise, the myth of pursuing happiness, being present and enjoying the journey, Ben's super power and his general message of the importance of connecting to others.
Interview with the open and authentic JC Clapham, who has been performing comedy since January this year. He jumped right in with the RAW competition, and then performed a solid 50-minute Melbourne Fringe show in September titled Humpty Dumpty Daddy. JC also appeared on MAA’s current favourite TV show, Hard Quiz, a couple of weeks ago. You can catch JC at the Adelaide Fringe from 13-18 March, and at the 2017 MICF with two shows (a refined Humpty Dumpty Daddy, and a second show titled I’m A Futurist And Even I Don’t Know What That Means).
We discuss: Major life events from mid-2016, support from the Beyond Blue phone line, reflections on oversharing about mental health, changes with work, family background and Dad’s suicide when JC was aged 16, reflections on the relationship with his Dad, sharing mental health issues on social media and messages of support from around the world, healthy sharing of emotions with his children, professional and personal self-care, stew ingredients, recent appreciation of quotes and memes, JC’s super powers, learning patience and locus of control, and JC’s message to be open and authentic.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Luke Leonard, who has performed comedy for the past 4 years and also runs pub trivia in the Branch St Kilda and the 3 Ravens Brewery in Thornbury.
We discuss: Luke’s comedy show being a mix of American History X and Animal Kingdom, Fairfield (Sydney) vs Fairfield (Melbourne), preferring a slower pace with comedy, balancing levity on stage with darkness off stage, Luke’s experience of depression, monitoring himself by cutting out alcohol and doing meditation and hypnotherapy, recognising the cycle and that sometimes there’s no reason for onset, the trigger of financial worries, enjoyment from keeping busy, love of sketch comedy, Luke’s experience of extreme emotions, corporal punishment at school, Melbourne protest interruption, being violent due to boredom at school, the multicultural nature of Fairfield, the difficulty of respecting teachers when they are violent, reading and smoking as a teen, the 4 months of massive life events about 2 years ago, having a positive relationship with his ex, coping with the 4 months, “Bruce Tickets” charity, Bruce’s songs and autobiography, self-medicating with alcohol and prescription drugs, not being a fan of work, classism and exclusion from certain professions, the work and play in comedy, being able to concentrate on stage, borrowing serotonin on credit, alcohol-induced Eccy Tuesdays, brain chemistry and mood, benefits of exercise, music, laughter, solitude and pottering, the flaws of the Medicare counselling system, Andrew Johnson’s Relax Plus app, hypnosis being “assisted meditation”, experiences with AA and the Landmark Forum, getting into comedy = getting into life, Luke’s super powers, Travis Nash’s podcast called Tales From The Mind Boat, and Luke’s message that hope is irrelevant because things always change – and that’s the only constant.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Ben McCarthy, who has been performing comedy for the past 18 months, including a successful Fringe show this year. You can catch Ben at various venues around Melbourne, including at Speakeasy HQ for the MICF in 2017 with a show called Nevermind.
We discuss: Having friends with mental health issues and never knowing unless people share what they are experiencing, fitting in, views on anxiety, the ABC TV series “Man Up” by Gus Worland*, the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel, The Mental Health Quiz, Ben’s super powers, and Ben’s message: Don’t be afraid to speak up.
*For information, episodes and statistics on Man Up, check out the website at: www.manup.org.au
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.
Interview with Matt Young, a Tassie born Comedian who started performing in 2014 and moved to Melbourne in 2015. Matt has done the Tasmanian showcase in the MICF for the past 2 years (called Heads A-Plenty), and runs a comedy room in Hawthorn called Guerilla on Wednesdays – check it out if you can!
We discuss: The awesome Tassie comedy scene, the relationship between drugs, sobriety, creativity and mental health, starting and stopping weed, different strains of pot for creativity, Matt’s experience of having motivation and creativity dulled by weed, substances being addictive vs being habit-forming, celebrating periods of sobriety with weed, 2 weeks off in Japan, how weed affects sleep, managing social pressure, decision-making process, views on alcohol, expectations from self and others, the value in learning what you don’t want to do, Matt’s dream of being a blu-tack scientist, being a teacher’s aide, kids being a rich source of material, Matt's love of entertaining, sketch comedy and writing, learning from bombing on stage, Matt’s super power, and his message of the value and well-being in taking action if you’re feeling down (eg. making something with your friends).
Interview with Courtney Barnett’s number one fan Daisy Berry, who has been performing comedy for 4 years, including two Adelaide Fringe shows, and a MICF show in 2016. If you’re planning to be in WA in January 2017, you can catch Daisy’s show at Perth Fringeworld. Also check out Daisy's new podcast, it's called Mad Chats With Daisy Berry.
We discuss: Daisy’s “Am I Mental?” show exploring the notion of comedy as therapy, audience over-sharing and listening as best she can, Daisy meeting her Dad at age 16, flipping a coin and going with your gut, family traits, Daisy’s first comedy set, supposedly having an easy name to remember, Mad Chats With Daisy Berry podcast (listen now!), accountability for making judgments, portraits of Daisy as a snail, meeting Courtney Barnett, and Daisy’s message that no one is perfect and try not to judge.
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.
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!
Interview with the humble and entertaining David Tulk, who has been performing comedy for 12 years. David has 5 MICF shows under his belt, has performed in Edinburgh, and recently assisted his friend Gabe Hogan with her 2016 Fringe show.
We discuss: David’s Bipolar II diagnosis, self-medicating vs self-management, medication to manage self-doubt and negativity, the definition of a pre-sleep, mediating between his parents in childhood, the different ways he and his siblings coped with their parents’ separation, ice in regional areas, the unfinished Spanish galleon of Finley Lake, travel via helicopter, Dad’s anger and physical violence, reconciling his relationship with Dad, private school corporal punishment and Saturday morning detentions, being a cadet, artistic escapes, smuggling alcohol as a teen, dabbling in drugs, psychiatry vs psychology, sonnets and Shakespeare, obsession with world globes, becoming a full time comedian, corporatised artwork, Ollie the fair weather friend, the joys of being a cool uncle, David’s super power, and David’s advice to remember that everyone is a fallible human and therefore be nice to everyone and act with love.
Interview with the luminous Nadine Sparks, who performs stand up, and also character comedy and improv. Her Fringe show is called Bridesmaid To Be, which is running from now until 2 October at the Courthouse Hotel.
We discuss: Nadine’s early comedy influences, the lack of focus on mental health, benefits of writing, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, the “fat tax” of gym memberships, walking to notice your surroundings, the intuitive treasure hunt, anxiety overseas, displacement, Nadine’s motivation for quitting her addiction, Nadine’s positive experience of support services, the best approach of love and kindness, benefits of tough love, family views on depression and other mental health issues, Nadine’s role-model Mum, benefits of self-kindness, Nadine’s take on the glass half full or empty scenario, Nadine’s super powers, and the benefits of hope and gratitude.
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!
Interview with the entertaining and animated Harrison Engstrom, who hails from Wollongong and has been performing comedy in Melbourne for two years. Harrison is creator of That Comedy Podcast, which evolved from Laugh Till You Cry Podcast. He also works in video and content creation, and edits videos for Quick Bites Comedy.
We discuss: Foreign Accent Syndrome, Harrison’s experience of hypnotherapy, the surprise popularity of his podcast, Corey White admiration, 9-11 obsession, Harambe the gorilla’s hashtag, the story of Diane Schuler, worry about being a terrible person, undiagnosed ADHD (which is perfect for his job), the impact of his engagement break up, advice of what not to do with acid, the Icarus myth, making a Census skit, Operation Avalanche, techniques Harrison used to cope with depression, the importance of routine and discipline, revelations at Mount Keira, belief in possibilities instead of expectations, philosophy about death, Harrison’s super powers, vacuum cleaner distraction (apologies to Harrison and our listeners!), speech patterns and accents, the firework incident, and Harrison’s messages that mental health issues can be hard but instead of motivation, focus on discipline and find what works for you; listen to Harmon Town and Bojack Horseman; and take care of yourself & reach out for help if you need it.