Squaring up to your demons can be a daunting task, and sometimes there’s only so much your friends can do to help you out. Sometimes you need help from a pro (and by a pro, we mean a professional therapist). But, on your way to your appointment, why not gain some encouragement from professional comedians, as they talk about their own struggles with mental illness?
We’ve put together a list of seven podcast episodes featuring comedians speaking candidly about everything from depression to over-eating, alcoholism, anger management, anxiety and absolutely loathing their jobs. Yes, comedians have found a way to dislike the fact their audiences adore them. And those feelings are valid. Pick one you find interesting (or resonates most closely with what you’re going through) and hit play. You might come away with some fresh insight, and you’ll definitely have a hearty laugh.
WTF WITH MARC MARON – ROBIN WILLIAMS
In 2010, Marc Maron invited legendary comedian Robin Williams on to his podcast WTF With Marc Maron. It was the first time the late comedian—revered for his affable style of comedy—opened up about his personal life and struggle with romantic relationships, his relationship with his parents, depression, alcoholism, and his relapse after nearly two decades of years of sobriety.
Last year, the episode was archived in the National Recording Registry at the US Library of Congress. The registry documents sounds that “are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.” For context, other entries include speeches by American presidents including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge, a recorded exhibition by Thomas Edison, and Led Zepellin’s Stairway To Heaven.
THIS PAST WEEKEND WITH THEO VON – JOHN MULANEY
Theo Von has become a podcasting circuit mainstay over the past few years, amassing over two million followers on his YouTube account for podcast This Past Weekend. The comedian has built this audience thanks to candid and regular discussions that draw on his personal history of drug abuse, alcoholism and relapse. Von doesn’t shy away from speaking to anonymous listeners writing in about their struggles with substance abuse and even hops on call to speak with some of his listeners, lending a shoulder to lean on and offering insight where possible.
In this episode, Von speaks to John Mulaney. The two discuss Mulaney’s dizzying highs, his intricate relationship with drugs and sobriety, and being high at his intervention.
THE HONEYDEW PODCAST WITH RYAN SICKLER – CHRIS GETHARD
The HoneyDew Podcast, hosted by comedian Ryan Sickler, is a story-telling podcast that highlights the “low-lights” of life. Sickler invites comedians like Jim Gaffigan, Rick Glassman and Hanna Dickinson to talk about their worst, most traumatic experiences, and laugh about them. The podcast was inspired by Sickler’s own rough upbringing, and his experience overcoming the rare disorder that killed his father.
This episode features acclaimed story-telling comedian Chris Gethard, a regular guest on mental health podcasts, whose 2017 HBO comedy special Career Suicide revolves around his attempted suicide at the age of 21. On HoneyDew, Gethard speaks about dealing with bullying in school and its effects on him.
THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION – APARNA NANCHERLA
Hosted by veteran comedy columnist, writer and radio jokey John Moe, The Hilarious World Of Depression is a podcast designed to make light of the isolating but common mental health issue that is depression. Moe invites comedians onto the pod to talk about their experiences with depression, its lows and their favourite coping mechanisms.
In this episode, Moe speaks with comedian and BoJack Horseman star Aparna Nancherla about how anxiety and depression have had an effect on her career. Nancherla has been forced to confront these mental health issues as she gets more famous, and speaks eloquently here about finding a balance between managing her mental health, while spending most nights getting up on a stage and talking about her vulnerabilities.
A CONVERSATION WITH – DANIEL SLOSS
Philip DeFranco’s A Conversation With isn’t necessarily a mental health podcast, so this one’s definitely a little lighter than the other episodes on this list. A little while after the COVID-19 lockdowns ended, the popular YouTuber sat down with Daniel Sloss to discuss everything from mushrooms to mental health.
In his predictably engaging way, Sloss opens up about his struggles with burnout, and the effect repeatedly performing the same material every night had on him. The comedian also talks about the effect these issues had on his performances and his relationship with his fans.
NEAL BRENNAN’S BLOCKS PODCAST – Fortune Feimster
Coming off the back of his Netflix special Blocks, Neal Brennan began a podcast with the same name where he sits down with comedians and entertainers like Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen and Mike Birbiglia to discuss anything and everything that makes them feel alone and isolated. Together, Brennan and his guest unpack these issues in the form of blocks.
In this breezy episode, the comedian speaks with Fortune Feimster about her issues with boundaries, people-pleasing, eating, Attention Deficit Disorder. and travelling to different cities as a gay woman. Towards the end of the podcast, Feimster also speaks about what she’s done to come to terms with these problems.
IN CONVERSATION: BO BURNHAM LIVE ON ‘GOOD ONE’
On Vulture’s Good One podcast, host Jesse David Fox invites a comedian to discuss and break down one of their jokes. This episode from 2018 offers us a peek into the psyche of one of the best comedians today. Burnham discusses the Kanye West-inspired conclusion to his 2016 special Make Happy; a song called Can’t Handle This. The song is about many of the comedian’s most deeply held fears, and he speaks candidly about them on the podcast as well. Burnham talks about his fear of the stage, and the recurring on-stage panic attacks that eventually forced him off it, pushing him towards his directorial career.