“Mental illness isn’t abnormal,” she says. “It just exaggerates experiences that everybody goes through. Everybody has felt sad, been slightly hyperactive. Mental illness isn’t this separate world – it’s just a step beyond the normal world.”

by Julia Evans on October 6, 2010

Seaneen Molloy hopes the event (Warning: May Contain Nuts, a cabaret) will close the gap between those who have experienced mental illness and those who haven’t. “Mental illness isn’t abnormal,” she says. “It just exaggerates experiences that everybody goes through. Everybody has felt sad, been slightly hyperactive. Mental illness isn’t this separate world – it’s just a step beyond the normal world.”

quoted in: Funny, haha: the comedy of mental health issues

Brian Logan reports on a comedy show taking on mental health taboos

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 6 October 2010

Full quote:

You don’t have to look hard for links between comedy and mental illness. Just think of the way comics are described: Ross Noble is “madcap”; Robin Williams has “manic energy”; Lee Evans is “zany”. And look at the number of comics who’ve had breakdowns, depression, or other mental health problems: Stephen Fry, Jo Brand, Spike Milligan, Jack Dee.

But the link is seldom as explicit as it is in Warning: May Contain Nuts, a cabaret night at the Brighton Comedy festival this weekend. The performers, users of mental health services in Berkshire and Sussex, were invited by arts charity Company Paradiso to try standup. “Our purpose,” says its director Jon Potter, “is to enable people to tell their stories.” For this event, which will be compered by the poet John Hegley, the stories are about depression, schizophrenia and psychosis. But the evening, says Irish performer Seaneen Molloy, “is a right laugh”.

Molloy, like the rest, is a newcomer to standup. But she’s no stranger to writing: her BBC blog, The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, won a Mind mental health award and was turned into a Radio 4 play. When invited to take part in a May Contain Nuts show in Reading this year, Molloy was sceptical. “Mental illness in comedy is usually confined to hideous caricatures on sketch shows,” she says. “You’ll get a madcap old lady or a drooling imbecile.” She also feared it would have a “care-in-the-community feel. People would be like, ‘Aw, look at those mental people, how brave they are.'”

But that’s not what Company Paradiso is about. …..

…..

Molloy hopes the event will close the gap between those who have experienced mental illness and those who haven’t. “Mental illness isn’t abnormal,” she says. “It just exaggerates experiences that everybody goes through. Everybody has felt sad, been slightly hyperactive. Mental illness isn’t this separate world – it’s just a step beyond the normal world.”

It’s also a step closer to comedy: both are, after all, about skewed ways of looking at life. “You could say surreal comedy has an element of psychosis,” says Molloy, “because it’s disconnected from reality. [Chris Morris’s] Blue Jam refers to depression. The intros and outros are the ramblings of someone who’s going mad. And they’re really beautiful, lyrical and funny.”