Comedian Chris Gethard has, slowly but surely, gained some serious recognition in recent years. He’s got his own talk show, The Chris Gethard Show, on Fusion. He’s starring in Mike Birbiglia’s film Don’t Think Twice, and plays a small, but beloved role on Comedy Central’s Broad City. He’s got his own podcast called Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People and, on top of all of that, he has regularly been performing at major comedy festivals like Just For Laughs and Vulture Festival. Well, the comic can now add “one-man show” to his resume, as his new off-Broadway show, Career Suicide, is already selling out tickets before the first performance has even gone down. What’s more, the show’s first run has now been extended through the end of November to meet ticket demands.
Gethard recently wrote and stars in Career Suicide – presented by Judd Apatow- a one-man show that got rave reviews at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe back in August. The show is an autobiographical look at “depression, alcoholism, suicide, and the other funniest parts of life.” Gethard is known in part for his everyman demeanor; he projects the image of a down-to-Earth guy who makes his quirks and insecurities known and uses them as fuel for his comedic fire. In Career Suicide, however, we get to see parts of Gethard that even he was afraid to share. In fact, it was a conversation with friend and Don’t Think Twice director Mike Birbiglia that spurred the comic to put the show together in the first place.
“It actually started as a challenge that Mike Birbiglia gave to me,” Gethard admitted in an interview with GQ. “I was opening for Birbiglia for a while and he said, ‘You know, I’ve heard you talk about your depression and stuff a little bit, but what are the real stories?’ He and I are very close and I told him a really dark story about a time that I really tried to hurt myself in a very real way, and immediately he said, ‘That story’s hilarious. You have to put it on stage.’”
Gethard’s battle with depression, alcoholism and suicidal tendencies is a part of his history that even many of his fans may not be fully aware of, but it’s very much shaped the kind of person, and the kind of comic, that he’s turned out to be. Those struggles are facts of life for many others as well, and so Gethard saw in Career Suicide the opportunity to help people confront these taboo issues in a way that will help them become more relatable.
“People have expressed to me that making comedy about depression is insensitive. I vehemently disagree. We need to start laughing about this stuff, so maybe we can finally be comfortable talking about it afterwards,” said Gethard. “I just try to make sure my jokes come from an honest place, and unfortunately for me being honest means copping to the fact that I once crashed a car on purpose.”
The reviews from Edinburgh all indicate that Career Suicide is Gethard at his most open and honest. This comes from a sense of obligation for Gethard, a feeling that he has to share these struggles and emotions with the world, if only to let a few lonely folks out there know that they are not as alone as they might think.
From that GQ interview: “I think a lot of my work is aimed at maybe shouting from the hilltops to say ‘No, I’m not gonna shut up, I’m not gonna pipe down. You’re not gonna push me off into a corner.’ And I think I listened to a little too much punk rock growing up.”
I’d say we’re all better off for that, Chris.
Career Suicide will begin its off-Broadway run at the Lynn Redgrave Theater in New York City on Wednesday, October 5th for a series of preview shows. The show will officially open on Thursday, October 13th, and will run through Sunday, November 27th. Preview show tickets are $35, with tickets after October 13th going for $45; they can be bought via OvationTix at 866-811-4111 or through the show’s website.