This week's interview is with the delightful and dynamic musical comedy duo Colin Craig and Alia Vryens, otherwise known as Pick Up, which they describe as Kylie Minogue’s Tinder account meets Freddie Mercury’s Grindr account. Catch them performing at Perth Fringe and MICF in 2018!!
We discuss: Their background in theatre and learning the ropes of the comedy community, Colin and Alia’s experiences with mental health issues, the Rocky analogy and finding your own way to measure success, job titles in the Arts and how we self-identify, the Fail Faster mantra and the First Pancake Theory, ways to manage mental health, views on medication, support from the Arts community, issues with body image and being our own worst critics, Alia and Colin’s super powers, how to accept compliments, and their messages to recognise your achievements and efforts, and remember that emotions and bad experiences don’t last forever so ride them out.
Interview with Comic Book Producer Maarten Bouw. One of many comics he (together with his twin brother) has produced over the past 5 years is called Shtick, which is about a Comedian who tells an offensive joke and then goes on a mental health journey while dealing with the fallout. For more info on Maarten's comics and how to get your hands on them, check out the Facebook page: Drawn Out Dad Productions.
We discuss: Maarten’s experience of anxiety, not sweating the small stuff, locus of control and looking at the bigger picture, how Maarten started producing comic books, making changes for better life balance, anxiety flare ups, the benefits of seeing health professionals, anxiety feeding itself, mindfulness to assist with comfort eating, listing a few of our favourite podcasts, dealing with grief, Maarten’s super power, and Maarten’s message that only you can make the changes to get where you want to be in life, so set yourself small goals to make it happen. And make succotash: it is delicious.
Interview with the industrious and insightful Jade Fitzgerald, who is a Comedian from Albury. Jade started her comedy career in 2016 and has since competed in RAW and performed a Fringe show called The Three Step Program. Jade also runs a room in Albury called Off the Rails.
We discuss: The organic country comedy scene emerging in Albury, the high suicide rates in rural and regional areas, working with high-risk youth, having a wonderful behind-the-scenes husband, men experiencing post-natal depression, accessing mental health services in the country, The Healthy Mind Platter (www.mindplatter.com), the benefits of sleep diaries and charting, vacuum and rally noise, supporting gay marriage (recorded before the Yes outcome), views on being gay in the country, minorities in the AFL, Jade’s super power, university options and the low average wage of country areas, gendered thinking and body autonomy, family genetics, and Jade’s message to reach out and seek help if you need it.
Interview with the awesome and inspiring Jess Cochran, who has always had a talent for humor, but officially started performing comedy at the end of 2016. Jess was invited to participate in a comedy workshop organised by the University of Melbourne, MICF and Women with Disability Victoria, which was delivered by the wonderful Nelly Thomas. Jess recently performed her set at a gig for the Disability Rights Commission.
We discuss: having an eating disorder and other health issues from a young age, lack of accessibility to mental health services for those with physical disabilities, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), eating disorders and perfectionism, dealing with reputations and rumours in high school, being in 15 bands at once, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in her final years of school, being competitive and not saying No, perfectionism and burn out, the importance of pacing, taking the career path you want via the back doors, perspectives on Nursing from both sides of the bed, easing into the workforce, some massive life traumas, the Divine Divas of Sunbury, the accessibility challenges of being in a wheelchair, the blessings of being able to drive and live independently, the importance of pacing, being an Olave, making the most of what she has, raising awareness so people don’t suffer in silence, Jess’ super power, and Jess’ messages to not be afraid of speaking up, and to keep fighting on.
Interview with the friendly and humble Ben Stevenson, who is a Darwin Comedian originally hailing from Melbourne. Ben has been performing comedy since 2011, and currently co-hosts breakfast radio in Darwin on Hot 100FM. Ben was kind enough to share some experiences and stories related to mental health while on a recent visit to Melbourne.
We discuss: The close knit comedy scene in Darwin, Ben’s take on managing anxiety, the man in the gorilla suit, Imposter Syndrome and being happy with who you are, the Australian drinking culture, switching off from work and social media, the concept of confirmation bias, working on sitting with and accepting compliments, neuroplasticity, the self-care tip from Lamb of God, Ben’s super power, and Ben’s message that there are more people willing to help you than you may think.
Interview with Andrew Goodone, who has been a Comic for 36 years and has done “pretty much everything” in the comedy world. For the past 10 years he has been doing some amazing work with teenagers at risk, by engaging and collaborating with them to make short comedy films. To date, Andrew has made a whopping 151 short films. Check out some of his work by searching for the Robinvale Comedy Project on YouTube. Andrew also did a TED Talk last year, called Zen and the Art of Making Comedy, which you can view on YouTube.
We discuss: starting the interview immediately to get the gold, comedy films as a form of therapy, stories from Monash Secondary College, addressing the high youth suicide rate in Robinvale, importance of being open and non-judgmental, family suicides, family mental health, Sue-Ann Post and the auto-biographical comedy style, the anti-suicide comedy project in Robinvale, the sacrifice sometimes involved when being a support person for friends, being seen as the villain when doing the right thing, the lack of funding for mental health services, self-care via comedy, Andrew’s super power, and his message to try not to bottle things up, and even though it may be tough or trying at times, be supportive to those around you.
Interview with the open and affable Comedian Jack Thompson, who has been performing comedy for about 18 months, and moved down from Brisbane in June 2017 to be involved in the Melbourne comedy scene.
We discuss: The universality of mental health issues, the disease aspect of addiction, depression after high school, the experience of Schoolies, issues with alcohol, social anxiety, his experience of therapy, escaping boredom, the influence of the bad kid who lived down the street, detox medication, finding what’s important in life, the Marijuana Anonymous joke, his experience of AA, Jack’s super powers, and Jack’s message to talk to people if you are worrying about the future.
Bonus Episode which is a live recording of It's Ok to not be Ok! hosted by Rae Bonney, on Radio 94.1FM 3WBC. Rae very kindly invited me on her show as a guest, after appearing as an MAA guest on episode 61.
We discuss: mental health in Comedians and Entertainers, why and how the podcast began, some of the more memorable moments from MAA, communication skills, and why I thank Peaches. Please enjoy.
Interview with the humble and humorous Ari Shaker, who has been doing comedy for about 2 years, and can be found performing a few times a week at various venues around Melbourne like the Comic’s Lounge and Guerilla in Hawthorn.
We discuss: Ari’s experience of anxiety, the Headspace app and the benefits of meditation, riding out the bad emotions with the good, road raging, taking mental health days, Ari’s secret beach, phone addictions and social media superficiality, love and hate of technology, Ari’s video game addiction as a kid, Ari’s joke development process, using mindful meditation to facilitate sleep, dealing with performance anxiety, feedback delivery in comedy, the “gleaming depression” of performing, Ari’s super powers (and testing them out!), pet therapy, choosing to switch off from the news, and Ari’s messages to meditate, put your phone down, don’t pretend to be something you’re not, and do right to the people around you.
Interview with Peter Jones, who has been performing comedy for almost 5 years. Peter runs some of Melbourne’s great comedy rooms (including Lido Comedy, Dirty Secrets, and Club Voltaire) and he also recently started writing for The Project.
We discuss: the honesty, depth and openness of conversations with Comedians, the differences when communicating during high school years, convincing mum to let him watch the Simpsons back in the day, elements of friendships, being picked as a fake by the audience, the influence of being a Pastor’s son and being known as Sitcom Dad, the transition from shyness to performing comedy, appreciating the friend who tells you the stark truth, putting Peter’s super powers to the test, and Peter’s message to talk if you have issues because other people have most likely been through it too and they will not judge you.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Gabe Hogan, who has been performing stand up for almost 6 years, including a MICF show this year called Gabe Hogan: Making Life a Double. Gabe and her friend David Tulk also have a series of sketches you can find on Facebook called Some People Are Just Arseholes. Gabe is heading up to perform at Sydney Fringe Festival in September 2017 so check out the show if you can!
We discuss: Having ADD in high school, eating issues, affirmations by Louise Hay and Abraham-Hicks, sexuality revelations in adult life, values, teachers mistaking signs of depression for quietness and good behaviour, the importance of talking to trusted friends, driving and parking anxiety, ways of managing anxiety, Gabe’s super power, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and Gabe's message that it’s never too late to change.
Interview with Mental Health Advocate Rae Bonney. Rae is involved in lots of varied roles and organisations, including Integrated Wellbeing Specialist with HR Consultancy, Who Group, being an ambassador for beyondblue, involvement with their Heads Up workplace program (check out www.headsup.org.au), being a passionate Men’s Rights Advocate, and a fabulous Producer and Presenter on Radio 94.1FM 3WBC. Rae is also a qualified, practicing counsellor who manages her life, living with anxiety and depression.
We discuss: Rae’s views on the lack of support regarding human rights for men, getting started in radio as a guest on Ken Lyon’s show, the complex issue of domestic violence and taking an integrated approach to the issue, the importance of the feminist movement, parental alienation for men in custody situations, creating environments that best support people and how they are feeling, the importance of getting away from labels, Rae’s experiences of anxiety and depression, taking responsibility for your mental health, how to not be impacted by stress, dealing with and responding to change, benefits of good management in the workplace, statistics in relation to men’s suicide, the importance of listening, person centred therapy, Rae’s super power, non-verbal communication, and Rae's messages that nothing beats kindness and care, it’s ok to not be ok, and to trust your gut.
Interview with the compassionate and courageous Kate McPhee, who is a General Psychologist with a Masters in Psychology. Kate works in both an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and in her own private practice called The Very Small Clinic which operates in the inner suburbs of Melbourne (www.theverysmallclinic.com).
We discuss: How Kate found the field of Psychology, taking her time with studies, aversion to statistics and diagnoses, advice for Psychology students, the balance between heart-open and self-protection, daily yoga, love of French Earl Grey, her love of the people and learning a lot from clients, the adages of near enough is good enough and don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, swimming vs running, Kate’s shame story, the importance of empathy and connection, the magical mark of 40 minutes for strong emotions to pass, Brené Brown’s video on sympathy vs empathy (brenebrown.com) and The Power of Vulnerability TED Talk, the need for shame, Kate’s super power, and her message to connect and find a way to be vulnerable with boundaries.
Interview with the open and authentic Honor Newman. Honor is a Psychologist who specialises in women’s emotional health. Honor works in her own established private practice and writes programs for women in the areas of post-natal depression and perfectionism. She has also written a book titled The Perfectionist Within (available on Amazon) and runs womens groups in the Melbourne CBD and in Upwey (for more information feel free to contact Honor on 0433 374 031 or at email@example.com).
We discuss: The different types of work Honor has done in the field, the genesis of her women’s health work, the challenge of the lack of business training in psychology courses, enjoyment from seeing people grow to their full potential, belief in the possibility of healing, a peep into methods of addressing perfectionism, how Honor's group therapy works and associated benefits, how Honor’s interest in psychology developed, being proactive about seeking help herself, the importance of persistence if you don't meet the right psychologist for you right away, the power of listening, the attraction of private practice and the feminine model of work, some insights into Honor’s book, the new upcoming perfectionism program, Honor’s super power, and her messages that you can be empowered to break free of the binds of perfectionism, and your that true nature is beautiful.
Interview with Psychologist Natalie Haider. Nat’s experience has spanned a wide range of roles in the Psychology field, including Sports Psychology, Occupational Psychology, and Organisational Psychology, as well as lecturing, EAP work, clinical settings and more. Natalie currently works as a Learning Development Consultant at a Sydney University, where she designs and delivers workshops to high performing researchers, and as a Clinician in a private practice.
We discuss: The similarities between high performing researchers and athletes, interest in figuring out what makes people tick, psychology being the key to many career doors, the challenge of affordable access to counselling, being mindful of being a “rescuer”, conflicts of interest and informed consent, representing the profession while off duty, love of working with people, being mindful of language and the effect of words/labels about mental health, the continuum of mental health, Natalie’s preferred self-care activities, quote: you can’t give from an empty cup, the importance of self-care, always feeling energized by her work, Natalie’s super powers, and her message to be kind to yourself.
Interview with Dr Tony Mowbray. Tony is a General Psychologist who has a PhD, which involved research into test anxiety, how to measure it and how to reduce it utilising online techniques. Tony is currently working at Monash University, coordinating the online Graduate Diploma of Psychology.
We discuss: The ins and outs of Tony’s job and how he got into Psychology, the work of Ellen Langer and concept of mind over matter, age experiments, the challenge of being patient in regard to clients’ capacity for change, Carol Dweck and fixed or growth mindsets, Parkinson’s Law, appreciation of being paid to do mindfulness, addressing apprehensions about the online environment, the increasing prevalence of gamification, issues that kids face growing up with social media, Tony’s super power, Philosopher’s Notes by Brian Johnson, and Tony’s message of making time to do the essential things.
Interview with Melbourne Counsellor, Sherri Laurie. Sherri has a Diploma of Counselling and a Degree in Psychology, and prefers delivering short-term solution-focused therapy with a Person-Centred approach.
We discuss: Preventative counselling, “walk and talk” therapy, the shift from the Recruitment field to Counselling, Sherri’s preference for people-focused work, self-paced study with AIPC (Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors), regulations in the Counselling profession, decision-making around Psychology Honours, the challenges of studying statistics and the business/marketing side of the job, the concept of “normal” being different for everyone, not worrying about what others think of you, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and everyone having their own map of the world, the power of words and visualisation, the Calm app, Sherri’s super power, mnemonic memory devices and “chemo brain”, and Sherri’s messages to seek help if you need it, and don’t give up if you don’t click with the first Counsellor you meet: keep trying and find someone else to help you.
Interview with Sydney Musician and Podcaster, Andy Dowling. Andy is a member of metal band LORD (www.lord.net.au). Andy is also a podcaster: check out The Andy Social Podcast (www.andysocial.net), where he interviews musicians and other equally interesting people to discuss their views on life.
We discuss: Clarity of thought and staying in the moment, acceptance and mindfulness, life hacks and time tactics, the benefits of tuning in to your body, communication and active listening, the ego of musicians, a novel way to overcome stage fright, the psychology of musicians, appreciation for open-mic comedians, being the king of tangents, mental tenacity and memory devices, Bert Kreischer’s machine story, Andy’s super power, the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI), and Andy’s message to be more present and mindful with other people, and to respect others’ opinions.
Interview with Skruins from the Skruins and Co Breakfast Show podcast, which is a Melbourne based podcast full of funny segments and witty observations, and aims to find the funny in people’s lives. Check it out on iTunes, Shae from MAA was on episode 143.
We discuss: The highly anticipated Aqua Donut ride, the origin of Skruins, neuroticism and anxiety, questioning life choices while stuck in traffic, worry about narcissism, potential diagnoses, punk music as an outlet, how seeing your partner as a loveable idiot can be beneficial, learning languages, why Skruins hates real estate agents, Skruins’ Mum’s theory on having kids, super powers, terrible pick up lines, being good at winging it, controlling our narrative via social media, imagining what anxiety feels like, the only reason we should have guns in Australia, being toilet shy, and Skruins’ message of being kind to the people you love, and trust that others are doing the best they can.
Interview with the animated and affable Ashley Fils-Aime, who has been performing comedy for 20 years, and has lived in Melbourne for 3 years.
We discuss: The subjectivity of mental health, anxiety about flying and frogs, dealing with his phobia, spider stories, comfort factors while flying, the Fearless Flyers course, the heroism of hairdressers, being mindful of what you feed your brain, views on music, the power of thinking positively, comedy via hologram, Ashley’s super power, natural vs normal and wanting vs choosing, the power of words, and Ashley’s messages: don’t be too hard on yourself, don’t compare yourself to others, and try not to need anything so you can be set free.
Interview with the lovely Perth Comedian with a Canadian accent, Tor Snyder. Tor has been performing for 4 years and runs the Fremantle Comedy Factory, which was voted best comedy room by Perth comedians in 2016. She recently performed in the Perth Comedy Road Trip at the MICF, a show which incorporated sketch, comedy and improv. Tor also runs comedy workshops, and she's totally swipe right-able.
We discuss: the challenge of understanding mental health issues, learning about communication from an early relationship, the pros and cons of drinking, philosophy of Just Go Out And Have Fun, the transition in her comedy, the Dating Naked show with Mitchell Tinley, being comfortable with herself, the ups and downs of the dating world and falling in love, the biological clock, the subjectivity of attractiveness, opening doors of opportunity, Tor’s super powers, lying vs improvising, and Tor’s message about the importance of talking about your issues and being honest.
Interview with Dunkeld Comedian Ben Gaylard, who has been performing for 2 years and made it to the state final of RAW this year (well done Ben!).
We discuss: The impact of a recent suicide on the local community, the ups and downs of life with mental health issues, depression getting the better of people who complete suicide, mental health support in the country, Ben’s sexual assault at the age of 21, Ben’s views on the court system, choosing to move to the country, the need to live life to the full, self-care activities, practicing comedy on cows, dealing with thoughts of self-harm, Ben’s super power, Teddy Roosevelt being the universal trivia answer, and Ben’s message to reach out and talk to someone if you’re feeling suicidal.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Martin Samuel Dunlop. Go see Martin and his buddy Bec Petraitis perform their MICF show called Burn The Witches, running at the Butterfly Club from 14 to 24 April. Also check out Martin's list work online at www.nihilisticles.com
We discuss: The high prevalence of anxiety and depression, getting stuck in negative cycles, writing for theatre and Channel 31, comedy as an identity and motivator, Martin’s experience of therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), pros and cons of medication, fear of being perceived as boring or self-important, the complexity of playing multiple characters in the one show, the ups and downs of comedy and the perils of wallowing in a bad performance, Martin's website, the best joke, views on the Bourke Street Tragedy and the Sydney Siege, psychopaths and personality disorders and murderers, revising the DSM and the Bible, identity issues, end of life counselling for Trump, dealing with death and people living in God Mode, Atheism and Karma, Martin’s super powers, and his message to ask the opinion of someone you trust if you aren’t sure about your mental health.
Interview with the creative and candid Sofie Prints, who has been performing comedy for about 5 years, and has two MICF shows this year: Mary’s Abortion, Sofie’s Choice: The Death Of A God (from 29 March to 9 April at Station 59) and the murder mystery spoof play called And Then There Were Not As Many (from 10-22 April at Highlander). Go check them out if you can!
We discuss: Mental health issues being the new norm, stories of family mental health, scepticism about diagnoses, being a difficult teen, sharing her grandmother’s name, grandparents being prisoners of war in the Dutch East Indies, her grandmother’s eccentricities and family emotional abuse, growing up in regional NSW, Beef Week celebrations, her primary school principal now being in prison, COW FM, faking amnesia to escape to the city, difficulty making friends, getting kicked out of the school reunion, not-so-fond memories of Brisbane, living across the road from Bill Bailey, gradually getting into comedy, studying Art Therapy and Fine Arts, comedy friends, and her message to find your crew, and to come to see her shows during the MICF!
Interview with Geelong Comedian Jake Budge, who has been performing for about 3 years. Late last year Jake reached the accomplishment if 100 comedy gigs (and at time of interview he was sitting at 118 gigs). Catch Jake hosting and performing a comedy gig on 16th March at the Unwined Wine Bar. Possibly while wearing an animal costume!
We discuss: comedy being a way to express himself, patches of depression, being bullied, studying Aged Care, support from close friends, short film about disabilities leading to NDIS work, balancing the day job with late nights of comedy, growing up with a disability, going to Germany as a teen, dealing with negative emotions, Jake’s journey into comedy, views on stage craft and performance, getting out of your comfort zone to grow as a comedian, Jake’s super power, the inclusiveness of the comedy community, and Jake’s message to believe in yourself and never give up.