'We're All Helping Each Other': Exploring Mental Health And Creativity With 'Yeah But Are You Happy'
The podcast Yeah, But Are You Happy has been in production for a couple of years now, and has branched out to include live performances with special guests. That’s continued during the pandemic, with hosts Lane Ingram and Katie Stone producing livestreaming shows every Wednesday night on Coldtowne TV’s Twitch channel.
The origin story of Yeah, But Are You Happy involves a Facebook posting that Stone, a standup and improv comedian, wrote a few years ago about a tendency she’d noticed among her fellow comedy performers.
“You sort of hold onto your depression … anxiety, self-doubt, all of the above,” Ingram says, paraphrasing Stone’s original observation. “We sometimes have a tendency to hang on to that and a desire to preserve that because we think that’s a source of our creativity and our comedy. And Katie kind of posed the question … what is your endgame? To be successful and miserable?”
That idea struck a chord with Ingram – who in addition to being a comedy performer is also a licensed professional counselor – and soon he and Stone were co-hosting the Yeah, But Are You Happy podcast.
“Our goal was to kind of talk about the intersection of creativity and mental health,” Stone says, adding that continuing the show during the pandemic has been really helpful. “It’s been great continuing to get to be a place for our friends to congregate and for people who we don’t know even to congregate and just talk about their feelings every week in a way that’s non-judgmental.”
The uniqueness of the Twitch app, with its livestreaming and live-chatting capabilities, lets the hosts interact with their audience in a way that’s not possible in a more traditional live show setting, Ingram and Stone say.
There has been no shortage of subject matter for Yeah, But Are You Happy in the past few months, Ingram says with a laugh. “Yeah, it’s sort of like trying to sip water from a fire hose. There’s just so much, it’s like, 'Where do we even begin?'”
They’ve done shows focusing on how people are coping with the lockdown and on the Black Lives Matter movement, among other topics. But even when the subject matter gets heavy, the show finds a way to infuse a little levity.
“I don’t think we ever force the comedy into our show, but it always finds its way in there,” Ingram says. “There’s so much bad stuff going on right now, it’s like sometimes it’s so ridiculous you just have to laugh.”
Stone says that for her and Ingram, the show’s sometimes a form of therapy in itself.
“We get to share our feelings pretty endlessly and then have people tell us that they relate to them,” she says. “So it’s like, okay, great, we’re making content people relate to, but really what we’re getting is everybody telling us that our feelings are normal.”
“We’re all helping each other!” Ingram adds with a laugh. “Maybe it’s a little lopsided though, where we’re benefitting [more].”