Can a play about careers, suicide, depression and anxiety be funny? After seeing Career Suicide at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre, the answer is a most definite yes……and then some.
Career Suicide is the brain child of Chris Gethard. For those that don’t know Chris, he’s a comedian who has once written for Saturday Night Live, and for the last 3 years, has been the character ‘Todd’ on Broad City. However, for myself, those big shows were not my introduction to Chris Gethard. He also hosts the podcast ‘Beautiful Anonymous’ which is one of my favourite podcasts and you should check it out if you haven’t already.
Now back to the show.
I flew to New York from Toronto, just to see this show. My brother has been suffering from more frequent anxiety attacks lately and it’s now been impeding on both of our lives. I’m the go to phone call when all hell breaks loose. I needed a hand as nothing I could suggest to my brother ever helped. I felt if he was to have change occur, he needed to do it himself, with his own free will. I just wanted to have him hear Chris Gethard’s story and be moved by it. When I told him what the play was about, he was not enthused, however, it was a free trip to New York, so he was coming, as he never turns down free.
As we sat in the theatre, my brother felt comfortable in it’s cozy confines. I myself was a bit nervous, as I just hoped the show was as impactful as I imagined it could be.
When Chris arrived on stage, the show followed the nuance of his voice. The inflections of the highs and the lows. He always had you laughing before the lights dimmed and things got more serious. The tone he weaved was perfect. You began to laugh with him, as he made fun of his irrational choices and you were also right by his side when those choices became detrimental to his well being. You felt his manic depression and his anxiety. He got you to feel what he was feeling, with his impactful voice. By the end of the play, you lived his life with him. You were his witness. It was equal parts entertainment and catharsis, done to perfection.
For myself and my brother, many things hit home. The biggest was my brother’s reluctance to take any medication. Before us, stood a man that also thought he didn’t need medication and he’d ween himself off them when he thought he was doing well. He believed the old myth that he wouldn’t be the same person and would not be creative anymore if he took meds. To this, Gethard pointed out that he’s never been more creative and his career had never been better.
When the lights dimmed for the final time, my brother was wiping away tears from his face. He wanted to stick around in hopes to meet Gethard, but that wasn’t in the cards that evening. His back up plan was to send him an email, which was music to my ears. For me, this was the reason I brought my brother. I wanted him to hear these things from somebody other than family, friends, or a doctor. The show was everything I could of hoped for and more.
The MORE part also turned out to be interesting, but for my life. It seems, I also had something to learn from the show. I live in a somewhat co-dependent relationship with my brother and I need to learn how to not pick up the phone as much, which is not very easy. However, Gethard told a story about a friend who had enough of getting the panic calls and said that he refused to help him anymore unless he began to take matters into his own hands. At first, Gethard was angry with him, but then later thanked him for saying what he said. Upon hearing this, I realized, I needed to be more like his friend. Not just for me, but for my brother’s sake as well.
Th show ended that night on a high, but two days later, we were at the airport going home, and brother suffered from another anxiety attack. He refused to get onto the plane. He wanted to drive home instead and his behaviour had become a little erratic to say the least. His voice became louder and more swear words were coming out too. He was like a drunken sailor. He wanted to drive 10 hours and at one point we would eventually encounter a snow storm. When I didn’t follow him on his way out, he came back and was angry with me for not coming. He told me how horrible I was for making him get on the plane. To which I replied, I think it’s horrible that you want me to not board a plane taking off and landing in perfect weather, by putting my life in a riskier situation by driving 10 hours through an eventual snow storm. When he heard it through those terms, he put his bags down and stopped. Chris Gethard Strategy 1 – My Brother 0.
After we landed in Toronto, we parted ways and I didn’t hear from him until the next day. I got a call and he was having another panic attack. Eventually I got him to go to the hospital and instead of constantly inquiring about how he was doing, I went to the movies instead. After the movie was over, I took a quiet stroll home. I knew eventually I’d be getting a call from my brother and I just wanted some me time. Like clock work, as I entered my apartment, he texted me. He was home from the hospital and they diagnosed him with a panic attack. However, this time he stuck around, which he normally wouldn’t, and waited for the doctor to give him a referral to a psychiatrist. BOOM! This was a huge step. He has refused to see anyone about his issues for years, so I could only see this as a positive going forward. Even if he doesn’t go this time, he’s still creeping forward to considering it, and I thank Chris Gethard for this.
Now it’s a wait and see game. However, as I see it right now, Chris Gethard 2 – My Brother 0. I’ll keep you posted on future progress as soon as I get it.
In the meantime, go see the Career Suicide Show through January 8th.