Comedians like Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson and Wayne Brady are used to making audiences double over with laughter. Now they’re giving people a glimpse into a more serious side of the funny business.
The performers teamed up with Funny or Die and Wilson’s digital entertainment outlet SoulPancake for a new documentary, “It’s Not That Funny,” where they candidly talk about issues including anxiety and depression. The film will showcase raw, honest conversations about mental health and how the conditions played a role in their careers.
“All of us learn a skill set inherently as children that gets us through childhood,” Silverman says in the trailer, which was released on Tuesday. “100% of comedians become comedians because somewhere in their childhood, they needed to be funny in order to survive.”
The film not only promises to give visibility to mental health in the comedy world, but it also tackles the trope that mental illness and creativity are inextricably linked. The performers open up about how bringing joy to others can sometimes take a toll, and they debunk the myth that seeking professional help can water down comedy.
“Comedy is not going to save you,” says comedian and actor Chris Gethard in the trailer. “And if you are thinking about doing comedy as a substitute for therapy, it doesn’t work.”
Nearly 1 in 5 people will experience a mental health issue in a given year. But despite the fact that mental health conditions are so common, there is still a ton of misunderstanding surrounding them. A recent study even found that portrayals of mental illnesses in TV and films often dehumanize and trivialize those characters who are living with them.
Thankfully, more public figures ― like these comedians ― are talking openly about their experiences with mental health. And that can bust some of the myths and negative stereotypes that have contributed to the stigma for so long, according to experts.