Whether it be dialogue stemming from the fallout from mass public shootings in the US, to the flood of messages on social media following a celebrity’s suicide, mental health is a much talked about topic — and that’s a good thing.
Marise Gaughan joins the conversation as she uses comedic alchemy to transmute personal sorrow into something else, something all of us can laugh at.
Struggling with depression since her early teenage years, she’s been in and out of hospitals.
In 2014, her father killed himself and a series of subsequent events, including Gaughan’s own suicide attempt, led to her involuntary confinement in a celebrity-frequented Los Angeles psychiatric hospital.
While in hospital, she focused on rebuilding her mental health whilst simultaneously trying to find out from the nurses what fellow patient Kanye West ordered for breakfast — information that the nurses kept confidential of course.
Luckily for Gaughan, humour was able to transcend sorrow on her road to recovery.
“What is it they say? Tragedy plus time equals comedy. I always remember me and my brother making jokes about it [father’s suicide] the night we found out. I always kinda had a darker sense of humour. This show isn’t for everybody; it’s very dark and it jokes about things that a lot of people don’t think you should joke about, but I think maybe it helps a bit, cause this is stuff that really happened to me. It’s very personal and it’s real.”
A fan of comedians like Anthony Jeselnik who can make light of life’s darker side, the Dublin based comedian will be switching it up as she described her show as “more of a one-woman show.” She reassures that despite the heavy material, it will still be a comedy.
“My club set is completely different to what I’m going to be doing in the Fringe show. This Fringe show is eighty percent stuff that I have never said before — to anyone really.”
The show is based on two years in the comedian’s life beginning with her father’s death and following her move to Amsterdam and eventually Los Angeles.
“The overriding narrative is about mental health. I hope it’s an honest account of it. It seems like we’re starting to talk more about mental health in this country, but it’s always after someone has killed themselves… I’m trying to describe what it’s like to be in it. Sometimes it’s annoying, it’s not this beautiful poetic thing.”
As she prepares to share these very personally experiences, she has some anxiety about how her family will react.
“My mom doesn’t know I’m doing this show yet. It’s kinda this Irish thing of keeping your feelings to yourself — the idea of my family seeing it… I don’t know if that’s gonna go down well. I still have some family members that can’t even accept that my dad killed himself.”
Words: Rose Ugoalah
In The Comedy Cellar from Monday September 17 to Saturday September 22 @ 8pm.