Jonny Donahoe's Every Brilliant Thing has the audience sharing personal stories about depression

The comedian talks about the power of using interactive performance to discuss mental health issues.
Jonny Donahoe (Courtesy of HBO)

"I've always thought the best way to talk about things, to communicate, share, is through humour," says comedian Jonny Donahoe. Donahoe is using interactive performance in his show Every Brilliant Thing to discuss mental health issues by asking the audience to tell a story of depression and suicide. The show follows a man from childhood to adulthood as he creates a list of things that he hopes will cheer up his depressed mother. Donahoe explains that comedy creates a bit of a veneer between you and a serious topic. "People think that joking about things, you're avoiding them, but actually you're giving yourself a comfort zone and allowing yourself into a topic you might otherwise feel very uncomfortable with," which is why comedians tend to come back to more challenging conversations.

Donahoe previously toured the U. K. with his show and footage has been captured from multiple live performances for the HBO presentation, premiering on December 26. "Depression is just everywhere in my life at the moment," says the comedian, "I was delighted to get to work on something that I felt might someway help some people." On getting his audience to speak up and participate, Donahoe says, "I've never had anyone say 'no'." He admits that people feel comfortable sharing since he is very honest with them, "because I'm vulnerable, it's okay for you to be."

WEB EXTRA | Watch the trailer for Every Brilliant Thing below.

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