How Chris Gethard slices through depression with jokes

Comedian Chris Gethard's new one-man show finds a humourous way to tackle dark topics such as suicide, depression and alcoholism.
Chris Gethard's new one-man show, Career Suicide, finds a humourous way to tackle dark topics like suicide, depression and alcoholism. (Atisha Paulson)

Comedian Chris Gethard opens his one-man show, Career Suicide, with a story describing the time he nearly killed himself by swerving into an oncoming car. 

It's not a particularly funny moment, but Gethard is laying the grounds for the type of heavy topics he's about to try and find the humour in.

"I don't think there's anything funny about suicide," Gethard clarifies. "But I know how to speak to my experience and there are things about my experience that I think were funny, even against the backdrop of this really dark stuff."

It took Gethard some time to truly open up about his struggles with depression, suicide and alcoholism, all of which are the focus on Career Suicide. "For many years, when I was young, I hid it and was trying to deal with it in private," he explains. "I realized that wasn't very realistic." 

Thanks to the encouragement of friend and fellow comedian Mike Birbiglia, Gethard was able to start telling these darker stories and empowering both himself and his audiences to be open with their battles — which is especially important now. 

"We have to allow everything to be funny," Gethard notes, pointing to recent U.S. election results as an example of why people need some laughter in what could feel like hopeless times. "Humour is very often the first way we have uncomfortable conversations.

"Jokes slice through — if we don't allow jokes to slice through discomfort, what's going to?"