Interview with the wonderful, worldly and wise Justine Sless, who is not only an experienced Comedian: she also writes in various forms, run comedy workshops and has created her own festival (The Melbourne Jewish Comedy Festival). Other works by Justine include a Podcast (Kvetch with Sless) and a Blog (Excuse me there are crumbs in my comedy). She is also a Mother, completing her Masters, and doing extraordinary work in the Community/Non-Profit sector.
We discuss: The agency of performing comedy, experiencing misogyny, anti-Semitism and racism in comedy rooms, wanting to effect a change within the community, involvement with Raw House and Spark Theatre, Justine’s family tree and the creation of her festival in 2015, articulating culture through comedy, the points of difference in her festival to the commercial festivals, the aim of connecting people, the importance of natural gathering places and creating opportunity to connect, the challenge of raising teenagers, Justine’s European tour, being a Jew of the World, effecting change on a micro level to create opportunities for connection, care and compassion, finding light where there was darkness, remembering what we share in our humanity rather than our differences, Justine’s super power, being guided by integrity and morality, and Justine’s message of managing mental health by connecting with others in meaningful ways.
Interview with the determined and delightful Melbourne Comedian Miriam Levy. We discuss: The tendency to conceal the reality about mental health, Miriam's PhD in French Philosophy and addiction, her personal experience of addiction as a coping mechanism, the importance of connection, the art of balance, a near-death turning point, trauma and energy healing, Relaxation vs Dissociation, methods of meditation, Miriam’s super power, Sarah Silverman’s incredible display of empathy and compassion, assumptions and projecting pain, the importance of asking questions to assist with understanding, and Miriam’s message that there is no such thing as normal, and if we could recognise this, we would all be better off.
Interview with David Rose, who has been performing comedy for 6 years, including writing for Cracked magazine. David is co-producing a MICF show in 2018 called Just Kidding. Check it out at Tasma Terrace from 27th March to 1st April at 5.30pm. David is also hosting a gig on 22nd February at the McKinnon Hotel with a great line up, go to www.ticklepit.com for tickets.
We discuss: Anxiety, depression and hypochondria, learning mindfulness from a Liverpudlian Monk, Smiling Mind, Oak and Calm apps, Mindful vs Mindless Colouring, anxiety about being judged by other Comedians, the birthday present that may possibly outlast his relationship, visiting Little India and gigging in Singapore, David’s comedy tour of Germany, Bo Burnham’s take on happiness, misdirection and synesthesia with emotions, Dan Dennett’s concept of “Deepity”, Waking Up (book and podcast) by Sam Harris, and David’s super power.
Interview with Writer, Podcaster, and Performer of Comedy, Luke Morris. Luke is part of the close-knit comedy community in Bendigo, and competed in RAW this January. Luke is involved in running the Bendigo comedy workshops and gigs at the Metropolitan and Handle Bar, and also visits various Melbourne Open Mic nights regularly. For more info about what’s on in Bendigo, check out www.bendigocomedy.com.au Also check out: Bendigo Comedy Podcast, Luke’s informative episode on the Laborastory podcast about Dom Perignon and the production of champagne, and his 2018 MICF show called The Wine Science Show.
We discuss: The bullying survey he wasn’t allowed to complete as a kid, writing a book, being the change you want to see in the world, fond memories of The Old Church on the Hill, the lack of hecklers in Bendigo, Consumers vs Producers, being “a Great Avoider”, the philosophy of following your curiosity, the Manchester Gig, support from the social media community, writing and comedy influences, Luke’s superpower, and his message to go and see live comedy because it’s good for mental health.
Interview with the lovely and vivacious Tara Bell, who has been performing comedy for just over 6 months and already has a RAW competition notch in her belt from 2017. Tara started out in the (male dominated) Bendigo scene, and has now performs with the (female dominated) Wodonga scene. Tara also has a podcast called 20 Bucks Is 20 Bucks, discussing the ins and outs of the first/worst jobs people have had. Shae from MAA was a guest on episode 9. Find the podcast in all the usual places, or on Facebook: 20 Bucks Is 20 Bucks Podcast.
We discuss: Tara’s diagnosis when she was 16, growing up in a rural area, getting into comedy as coping mechanism, being a young Mum and having a gifted child, the benefits of exercise, the drawn-out process of receiving an accurate diagnosis, the problem of medicalising human nature, having a nervous breakdown, the eMoods tracking app, the importance of continuity of care, Tara’s super power, and her message to know yourself well so you know if something is not right, and seek support until you find it.
Interview with the humble and very humorous Thomas McMahon, who has been performing comedy in Melbourne for 11 years (on and off).
We discuss: Microphone logistics, Thomas’ experience with bipolar disorder, an insight into mania, the helpfulness of tracking moods, adjusting to having a diagnosis, issues with people self-diagnosing, the benefits of multiple professional opinions and check ups, Progressive Muscle Relaxation with soundtracks and music, Dalek Relaxation, the importance of a good support network, dealing with the stigma of mental health issues, analogy of a car without an accelerator or brake, the benefits of exercise, super powers, and Thomas’ message to talk to people and seek help because things can get a lot better.
This week's interview is with the delightful and dynamic musical comedy duo Colin Craig and Alia Vryens, otherwise known as Pick Up, which they describe as Kylie Minogue’s Tinder account meets Freddie Mercury’s Grindr account. Catch them performing at Perth Fringe and MICF in 2018!!
We discuss: Their background in theatre and learning the ropes of the comedy community, Colin and Alia’s experiences with mental health issues, the Rocky analogy and finding your own way to measure success, job titles in the Arts and how we self-identify, the Fail Faster mantra and the First Pancake Theory, ways to manage mental health, views on medication, support from the Arts community, issues with body image and being our own worst critics, Alia and Colin’s super powers, how to accept compliments, and their messages to recognise your achievements and efforts, and remember that emotions and bad experiences don’t last forever so ride them out.
Interview with Comic Book Producer Maarten Bouw. One of many comics he (together with his twin brother) has produced over the past 5 years is called Shtick, which is about a Comedian who tells an offensive joke and then goes on a mental health journey while dealing with the fallout. For more info on Maarten's comics and how to get your hands on them, check out the Facebook page: Drawn Out Dad Productions.
We discuss: Maarten’s experience of anxiety, not sweating the small stuff, locus of control and looking at the bigger picture, how Maarten started producing comic books, making changes for better life balance, anxiety flare ups, the benefits of seeing health professionals, anxiety feeding itself, mindfulness to assist with comfort eating, listing a few of our favourite podcasts, dealing with grief, Maarten’s super power, and Maarten’s message that only you can make the changes to get where you want to be in life, so set yourself small goals to make it happen. And make succotash: it is delicious.
Interview with the industrious and insightful Jade Fitzgerald, who is a Comedian from Albury. Jade started her comedy career in 2016 and has since competed in RAW and performed a Fringe show called The Three Step Program. Jade also runs a room in Albury called Off the Rails.
We discuss: The organic country comedy scene emerging in Albury, the high suicide rates in rural and regional areas, working with high-risk youth, having a wonderful behind-the-scenes husband, men experiencing post-natal depression, accessing mental health services in the country, The Healthy Mind Platter (www.mindplatter.com), the benefits of sleep diaries and charting, vacuum and rally noise, supporting gay marriage (recorded before the Yes outcome), views on being gay in the country, minorities in the AFL, Jade’s super power, university options and the low average wage of country areas, gendered thinking and body autonomy, family genetics, and Jade’s message to reach out and seek help if you need it.
Interview with the awesome and inspiring Jess Cochran, who has always had a talent for humor, but officially started performing comedy at the end of 2016. Jess was invited to participate in a comedy workshop organised by the University of Melbourne, MICF and Women with Disability Victoria, which was delivered by the wonderful Nelly Thomas. Jess recently performed her set at a gig for the Disability Rights Commission.
We discuss: having an eating disorder and other health issues from a young age, lack of accessibility to mental health services for those with physical disabilities, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), eating disorders and perfectionism, dealing with reputations and rumours in high school, being in 15 bands at once, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in her final years of school, being competitive and not saying No, perfectionism and burn out, the importance of pacing, taking the career path you want via the back doors, perspectives on Nursing from both sides of the bed, easing into the workforce, some massive life traumas, the Divine Divas of Sunbury, the accessibility challenges of being in a wheelchair, the blessings of being able to drive and live independently, the importance of pacing, being an Olave, making the most of what she has, raising awareness so people don’t suffer in silence, Jess’ super power, and Jess’ messages to not be afraid of speaking up, and to keep fighting on.
Interview with the friendly and humble Ben Stevenson, who is a Darwin Comedian originally hailing from Melbourne. Ben has been performing comedy since 2011, and currently co-hosts breakfast radio in Darwin on Hot 100FM. Ben was kind enough to share some experiences and stories related to mental health while on a recent visit to Melbourne.
We discuss: The close knit comedy scene in Darwin, Ben’s take on managing anxiety, the man in the gorilla suit, Imposter Syndrome and being happy with who you are, the Australian drinking culture, switching off from work and social media, the concept of confirmation bias, working on sitting with and accepting compliments, neuroplasticity, the self-care tip from Lamb of God, Ben’s super power, and Ben’s message that there are more people willing to help you than you may think.
Interview with Andrew Goodone, who has been a Comic for 36 years and has done “pretty much everything” in the comedy world. For the past 10 years he has been doing some amazing work with teenagers at risk, by engaging and collaborating with them to make short comedy films. To date, Andrew has made a whopping 151 short films. Check out some of his work by searching for the Robinvale Comedy Project on YouTube. Andrew also did a TED Talk last year, called Zen and the Art of Making Comedy, which you can view on YouTube.
We discuss: starting the interview immediately to get the gold, comedy films as a form of therapy, stories from Monash Secondary College, addressing the high youth suicide rate in Robinvale, importance of being open and non-judgmental, family suicides, family mental health, Sue-Ann Post and the auto-biographical comedy style, the anti-suicide comedy project in Robinvale, the sacrifice sometimes involved when being a support person for friends, being seen as the villain when doing the right thing, the lack of funding for mental health services, self-care via comedy, Andrew’s super power, and his message to try not to bottle things up, and even though it may be tough or trying at times, be supportive to those around you.
Interview with the open and affable Comedian Jack Thompson, who has been performing comedy for about 18 months, and moved down from Brisbane in June 2017 to be involved in the Melbourne comedy scene.
We discuss: The universality of mental health issues, the disease aspect of addiction, depression after high school, the experience of Schoolies, issues with alcohol, social anxiety, his experience of therapy, escaping boredom, the influence of the bad kid who lived down the street, detox medication, finding what’s important in life, the Marijuana Anonymous joke, his experience of AA, Jack’s super powers, and Jack’s message to talk to people if you are worrying about the future.
Bonus Episode which is a live recording of It's Ok to not be Ok! hosted by Rae Bonney, on Radio 94.1FM 3WBC. Rae very kindly invited me on her show as a guest, after appearing as an MAA guest on episode 61.
We discuss: mental health in Comedians and Entertainers, why and how the podcast began, some of the more memorable moments from MAA, communication skills, and why I thank Peaches. Please enjoy.
Interview with the humble and humorous Ari Shaker, who has been doing comedy for about 2 years, and can be found performing a few times a week at various venues around Melbourne like the Comic’s Lounge and Guerilla in Hawthorn.
We discuss: Ari’s experience of anxiety, the Headspace app and the benefits of meditation, riding out the bad emotions with the good, road raging, taking mental health days, Ari’s secret beach, phone addictions and social media superficiality, love and hate of technology, Ari’s video game addiction as a kid, Ari’s joke development process, using mindful meditation to facilitate sleep, dealing with performance anxiety, feedback delivery in comedy, the “gleaming depression” of performing, Ari’s super powers (and testing them out!), pet therapy, choosing to switch off from the news, and Ari’s messages to meditate, put your phone down, don’t pretend to be something you’re not, and do right to the people around you.
Interview with Peter Jones, who has been performing comedy for almost 5 years. Peter runs some of Melbourne’s great comedy rooms (including Lido Comedy, Dirty Secrets, and Club Voltaire) and he also recently started writing for The Project.
We discuss: the honesty, depth and openness of conversations with Comedians, the differences when communicating during high school years, convincing mum to let him watch the Simpsons back in the day, elements of friendships, being picked as a fake by the audience, the influence of being a Pastor’s son and being known as Sitcom Dad, the transition from shyness to performing comedy, appreciating the friend who tells you the stark truth, putting Peter’s super powers to the test, and Peter’s message to talk if you have issues because other people have most likely been through it too and they will not judge you.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Gabe Hogan, who has been performing stand up for almost 6 years, including a MICF show this year called Gabe Hogan: Making Life a Double. Gabe and her friend David Tulk also have a series of sketches you can find on Facebook called Some People Are Just Arseholes. Gabe is heading up to perform at Sydney Fringe Festival in September 2017 so check out the show if you can!
We discuss: Having ADD in high school, eating issues, affirmations by Louise Hay and Abraham-Hicks, sexuality revelations in adult life, values, teachers mistaking signs of depression for quietness and good behaviour, the importance of talking to trusted friends, driving and parking anxiety, ways of managing anxiety, Gabe’s super power, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and Gabe's message that it’s never too late to change.
Interview with Mental Health Advocate Rae Bonney. Rae is involved in lots of varied roles and organisations, including Integrated Wellbeing Specialist with HR Consultancy, Who Group, being an ambassador for beyondblue, involvement with their Heads Up workplace program (check out www.headsup.org.au), being a passionate Men’s Rights Advocate, and a fabulous Producer and Presenter on Radio 94.1FM 3WBC. Rae is also a qualified, practicing counsellor who manages her life, living with anxiety and depression.
We discuss: Rae’s views on the lack of support regarding human rights for men, getting started in radio as a guest on Ken Lyon’s show, the complex issue of domestic violence and taking an integrated approach to the issue, the importance of the feminist movement, parental alienation for men in custody situations, creating environments that best support people and how they are feeling, the importance of getting away from labels, Rae’s experiences of anxiety and depression, taking responsibility for your mental health, how to not be impacted by stress, dealing with and responding to change, benefits of good management in the workplace, statistics in relation to men’s suicide, the importance of listening, person centred therapy, Rae’s super power, non-verbal communication, and Rae's messages that nothing beats kindness and care, it’s ok to not be ok, and to trust your gut.
Interview with the compassionate and courageous Kate McPhee, who is a General Psychologist with a Masters in Psychology. Kate works in both an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and in her own private practice called The Very Small Clinic which operates in the inner suburbs of Melbourne (www.theverysmallclinic.com).
We discuss: How Kate found the field of Psychology, taking her time with studies, aversion to statistics and diagnoses, advice for Psychology students, the balance between heart-open and self-protection, daily yoga, love of French Earl Grey, her love of the people and learning a lot from clients, the adages of near enough is good enough and don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, swimming vs running, Kate’s shame story, the importance of empathy and connection, the magical mark of 40 minutes for strong emotions to pass, Brené Brown’s video on sympathy vs empathy (brenebrown.com) and The Power of Vulnerability TED Talk, the need for shame, Kate’s super power, and her message to connect and find a way to be vulnerable with boundaries.
Interview with the open and authentic Honor Newman. Honor is a Psychologist who specialises in women’s emotional health. Honor works in her own established private practice and writes programs for women in the areas of post-natal depression and perfectionism. She has also written a book titled The Perfectionist Within (available on Amazon) and runs womens groups in the Melbourne CBD and in Upwey (for more information feel free to contact Honor on 0433 374 031 or at email@example.com).
We discuss: The different types of work Honor has done in the field, the genesis of her women’s health work, the challenge of the lack of business training in psychology courses, enjoyment from seeing people grow to their full potential, belief in the possibility of healing, a peep into methods of addressing perfectionism, how Honor's group therapy works and associated benefits, how Honor’s interest in psychology developed, being proactive about seeking help herself, the importance of persistence if you don't meet the right psychologist for you right away, the power of listening, the attraction of private practice and the feminine model of work, some insights into Honor’s book, the new upcoming perfectionism program, Honor’s super power, and her messages that you can be empowered to break free of the binds of perfectionism, and your that true nature is beautiful.
Interview with Psychologist Natalie Haider. Nat’s experience has spanned a wide range of roles in the Psychology field, including Sports Psychology, Occupational Psychology, and Organisational Psychology, as well as lecturing, EAP work, clinical settings and more. Natalie currently works as a Learning Development Consultant at a Sydney University, where she designs and delivers workshops to high performing researchers, and as a Clinician in a private practice.
We discuss: The similarities between high performing researchers and athletes, interest in figuring out what makes people tick, psychology being the key to many career doors, the challenge of affordable access to counselling, being mindful of being a “rescuer”, conflicts of interest and informed consent, representing the profession while off duty, love of working with people, being mindful of language and the effect of words/labels about mental health, the continuum of mental health, Natalie’s preferred self-care activities, quote: you can’t give from an empty cup, the importance of self-care, always feeling energized by her work, Natalie’s super powers, and her message to be kind to yourself.
Interview with Dr Tony Mowbray. Tony is a General Psychologist who has a PhD, which involved research into test anxiety, how to measure it and how to reduce it utilising online techniques. Tony is currently working at Monash University, coordinating the online Graduate Diploma of Psychology.
We discuss: The ins and outs of Tony’s job and how he got into Psychology, the work of Ellen Langer and concept of mind over matter, age experiments, the challenge of being patient in regard to clients’ capacity for change, Carol Dweck and fixed or growth mindsets, Parkinson’s Law, appreciation of being paid to do mindfulness, addressing apprehensions about the online environment, the increasing prevalence of gamification, issues that kids face growing up with social media, Tony’s super power, Philosopher’s Notes by Brian Johnson, and Tony’s message of making time to do the essential things.
Interview with Melbourne Counsellor, Sherri Laurie. Sherri has a Diploma of Counselling and a Degree in Psychology, and prefers delivering short-term solution-focused therapy with a Person-Centred approach.
We discuss: Preventative counselling, “walk and talk” therapy, the shift from the Recruitment field to Counselling, Sherri’s preference for people-focused work, self-paced study with AIPC (Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors), regulations in the Counselling profession, decision-making around Psychology Honours, the challenges of studying statistics and the business/marketing side of the job, the concept of “normal” being different for everyone, not worrying about what others think of you, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and everyone having their own map of the world, the power of words and visualisation, the Calm app, Sherri’s super power, mnemonic memory devices and “chemo brain”, and Sherri’s messages to seek help if you need it, and don’t give up if you don’t click with the first Counsellor you meet: keep trying and find someone else to help you.
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.