WATCH: Chris Gethard on his "career suicide"

The comic tells how he wrote the message he wished he'd had at 15

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published May 5, 2017 8:00PM (EDT)

Early on in his new HBO  special "Chris Gethard: Career Suicide," the comic tells the audience, "Sometimes, people just break." He pauses a beat and adds, "Welcome to a comedy show."

Gethard is no stranger to finding the humor in the darkest aspects of his own life — he's been frank about his history of depression and suicidal ideation for much of his career. But with "Career Suicide," a one-man show he's worked on and performed over two hundred times, he's honed his quest to strike the right tone. "How do I balance the laughs with the message?" he pondered to Salon recently. "How do I make sure the laughs are never cheap or easy? They really cannot be. I feel more responsibility with this than with any other comedy I've ever done, so that anyone who has experience with this doesn't feel like it's exploiting it. It feels like a science experiment."

Gethard notes that in just the three years since he began performing his show, there's been a positive change  in the way mental health issues are discussed and portrayed in popular culture, and that "It's starting to shift for so much for young people. It's a little easier for them to open up." But he recalls that wasn't the case for him growing up his mission in creating the show was, "What's the show I wish I had when I was 15 years old, 19 years old, 22 years old, and these things were at their worst? If it helps people, it's worth it to me."

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Chris Gethard Chris Gethard: Career Suicide Depression Mental Health Original Video Video