...it's more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn't suck.
December 21, 2012 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Back in March, 2011 comedian Paul Gilmartin started a podcast called The Mental Illness Happy Hour. He interviews fellow comedians, listener guests, and health professionals about issues surrounding addiction and mental health. 93 episodes later, the show has thrived and expanded with a community forum, anonymous surveys, and now a blog. Paul Gilmartin was also recently a guest on fellow comedian Chris Hardwick's Nerdist podcast, making for an entertaining episode about computer art, comedy and mental illness.

Some podcast episodes are transcribed and the blog has an audio version as well.

You can also browse through statistics and responses from anonymous sexual advances survey. Here's the same from the shame and secrets survey.
posted by iamkimiam (15 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I just started listening to this and find it fascinating and often cathartic. I especially liked the episode with Nathan Rabin. Some of the guests are annoying so I skip those episodes -- what can you do, showbiz guests -- but mostly it's a refreshingly real and entertaining, often unexpectedly moving show.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 10:42 AM on December 21, 2012

Another more recent episode, featuring Paul's long-time friend James Franzo, is absolutely mind-blowing and I'd recommend it as a good place to start for people new to the Mental Illness Happy Hour. (But I'd also really recommend skipping the intro to this one—the interview starts exactly at 10:00—as it's not one of the better opening segments he's done and not really representative of how he generally kicks things off, imho.)

One thing I also wasn't able to include in the post is the fear offs and love offs, a regular feature of the podcast in which guests and a listener (read by Paul Gilmartin) run through their lists of things that bring them terror and bring them joy.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:48 AM on December 21, 2012

I really like this podcast, even if I'm not always in the right mood to listen to it and often fall months behind.

Sometimes, things are bad but not seriously bad and we just need to hear somebody else talking about the same or similar or worse problems. Seems like one of those things that's so obvious, it kinda gets overlooked quite a lot.
posted by dogwalker at 10:50 AM on December 21, 2012

I'm afraid that fear offs will never catch on in the mainstream, or will catch on and be changed in a way that negates their usefulness.
posted by dogwalker at 10:51 AM on December 21, 2012

Thanks for this, iamkimiam! I've been a fan of Paul's for years, and The Mental Illness Happy Hour is unique and fantastic.

(I posted the link to this on Paul's Facebook page, so hopefully he'll check it out.)
posted by The Deej at 11:03 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Paul also has the distinction of being the first-ever guest on his friend Jimmy Pardo's popular Never Not Funny podcast. Show notes here. (Self-link warning, as I am the show notes curator.)
posted by The Deej at 11:06 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I love this show, and it's changed my life. I feel like I've actually become a healthier, saner person from listening to it. I still have a long way to go, but this show has truly made a difference.

An example...

I've had a lot of problems and depression for a long time, and while I knew that self-pity was supposed to be a bad thing, I never quite understood what self-pity was. It bothered me for years. Was self-pity being depressed? Because if avoiding self-pity means you're just supposed to somehow shut off feeling sad when your life sucks, screw that. I can take happy pills, I can try not to just fall apart when my life gets shitty, but I'm not an android and I can't just make myself happy when everything in my life turns to crap.

But on one of Gilmartin's shows, he defined self-pity as feeling bad about your life without doing anything to try and change it. Now, that actually made sense. That was something workable: if you hate your life, keep trying to make your life better, or you're just getting stuck in self-pity.

The Teresa Strasser episode is one of the best. Really funny, but also really honest and heartbreaking. You will never look at the nice lady from While You Were Out the same way again.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:10 AM on December 21, 2012 [7 favorites]

A friend of mine introduced me to this show. We both like Paul F. Tompkins, and he had gotten hooked based on Gilmartin's interview with him. As a sad person, I like listening to other people's problems. That the interviewees are comedians makes their talk more entertaining and thus more memorable. I hope this show continues for a long time.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:39 AM on December 21, 2012

This was mentioned on the green a few weeks ago, and I started listening to it then. I love this podcast so much.

I find myself sometimes put off by the fear and love offs, and the opening parts with listener surveys. But the meat of the show, the interviews and chatting are the best.
posted by loriginedumonde at 11:57 AM on December 21, 2012

Favorite podcast ever. Have been listening and donating for a while now - SO happy it's still going strong. There really isn't anything else like it out there.
posted by sc114 at 12:11 PM on December 21, 2012

I listened for a while, but haven't in a while. Sometimes listening to other people's issues is comforting, but sometimes it just sends you further down the hole with them.
posted by PussKillian at 3:07 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Paul has gotten a lot better at interviews. He used to always bend the conversation to be about him and trying to get others to share his own hang-ups. One of the more memorable moments occurred in Doug Benson's interview. Doug is about as happy and well-adjusted as a person can get, but Paul tried soooo hard to read mental illness into Doug's life, eventually asking Doug if he felt uncomfortable around his mother because his mother sexualized him. It's an issue Paul himself struggled with, but it was so out of left field that Doug burst out laughing.

I'm a little wary of the podcast for this reason. Paul is not a trained therapist, and in the earlier episodes it seemed to me that he could be harming his interviewees, iatrogenically implanting disorders that were not there before. The opening contains the line "everyone is fucked up in their own way", and it's a kind of mantra that Paul uses to emphasize that people with mental disorders are not alone. I get the sentiment, but I am not sure that it is responsible to broadcast that sentiment to the world. I have asked therapist colleagues whether they'd say something like that to their clients, and many have problems with it.

Anyway, Paul's become a better listener as time has gone on, and I enjoy the podcast. But still, every few episodes, I find myself feeling worried about the dangers of clumsy untrained therapy.
posted by painquale at 4:31 PM on December 21, 2012

Yeah, but he's not trying to do therapy, he's trying to get people to actually say out loud all the stuff that most of us work to hide so we can look normal. So, yeah, he has to be pretty raw and open about what's going on in his own head but that is exactly what makes it so fantastic. I actually wish there was more Paul in there.

One great thing he said about anxious/depressive thoughts: "You can't control if a bird lands on your head, but you can control whether you let it stay and make a nest there."
posted by selfmedicating at 4:40 PM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I listened for a while, but haven't in a while. Sometimes listening to other people's issues is comforting, but sometimes it just sends you further down the hole with them.

That's how I felt after listening to the Nathan Rabin episode, even though he's long been my favorite writer at the AV Club.
posted by steinsaltz at 6:32 PM on December 21, 2012

I echo steinsaltz. I think it's a great podcast, but it was too much for me to handle emotionally.
posted by reenum at 7:46 AM on December 22, 2012

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