“I posted something on Facebook one day about comedians who choose to be unhappy so that they can stay funny,” says comedian Katie Stone. “And it was just basically like, ‘what’s the endgame here?’”
Stone didn’t know it at the time, but that Facebook post would lead to the creation of Yeah, But Are You Happy?, the podcast and live show that she now hosts with her friend Lane Ingram. Ingram, who’s also a comedian (in addition to being a licensed therapist) saw the post and immediately reacted to it.
“It still cracks me up,” Ingram says. “And it’s so true about… what’s going on in the mind of most comedy people. It’s these conflicting desires. It’s like, ‘Must be funny, but also being funny has to mean being unhappy on the inside.’
“Me being a therapist and a comedy person, I’d been so interested in the idea of combining those two worlds,” Ingram says. Stone and Ingram met up to explore the issue more, and eventually landed on the idea of creating a podcast that dealt with mental health issues (and especially the destigmatizing of mental health issues) through a comedic lens.
“In my wildest dreams, I thought this would resonate with people and then it might spark a conversation, which it did,” Ingram says. “And then we thought… what if we could use this podcast to create a safe, supportive space for comedy people in the community?”
That’s when the podcast spun off into a live show, The Yeah, But Are You Happy? Hour, in which local comedy folks of all kinds are invited to share funny stories about their own mental health struggles.
Ingram says it was important to everyone involved to set the right tone for the live show. “I started the episode by saying ‘It’s important that we’re going to make the right kind of jokes about mental health,’” he says. “This is not… ‘weaponized humor,’ as I’ll sometimes call it. That would be someone who’s maybe on the outside looking in, laughing at people with mental health issues, using humor to ridicule. And that of course is the complete opposite of what we want to do.”
The Yeah, But Are You Happy? Hour is much more about laughing with each other, not at each other. Finding those moments of humor and connection is key to the overall goal of the show. “I think hearing people talk about those specific moments in their life – hearing it and going… ‘Oh, crud. That’s been me’ – that gives people permission to admit something about themselves that they’ve kind of always thought about in an abstract way,” Stone says.
“I just feel like with a podcast like this, it just gives the opportunity to destigmatize mental health but also not make it… a chore,” Ingram says. “It’s something that can be celebrated and be fun and cathartic.”
'The Yeah, But Are You Happy? Hour' is Friday, October 4 at 7:00 at ColdTowne Theater. 'Yeah, But Are You Happy? is available though Apple podcasts or most other podcast apps.