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The Hilarious World of Depression

A show about clinical depression...with laughs? Well, yeah. Depression is an incredibly common and isolating disease experienced by millions, yet often stigmatized by society. The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with this disease, hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe. Join guests such as Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Richter, and Jen Kirkman to learn how they’ve dealt with depression and managed to laugh along the way. If you have not met the disease personally, it’s almost certain that someone you know has, whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague, or neighbor. Depression is a vicious cycle of solitude and stigma that leaves people miserable and sometimes dead. Frankly, we’re not going to put up with that anymore. The Hilarious World of Depression is not medical treatment and should not be seen as a substitute for therapy or medication. But it is a chance to gain some insight, have a few laughs, and realize that people with depression are not alone and that together, we can all feel a bit better. American Public Media and HealthPartners’ Make It Okay campaign are committed to breaking the stigma around mental health.

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Episode #2: Maria Bamford Talks Bipolar II While Her Pugs Eat Nilla Wafers

For some people, treating depression is a matter of going to a doctor or therapist, maybe getting some meds, and then feeling better. For comedian and actress Maria Bamford, the path to doing better was way longer and more complicated. She shares her experiences with depression, OCD, hypomania, and persistent, unwanted disturbing thoughts, as well as bad therapy, ineffective in-patient treatment, and breakdowns. A diagnosis of Bipolar II, which covered a lot of what was wrong with her, and some Googling helped put her on track to become the healthier person she is today.


19 Dec 2016

Rank #1

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Episode #PLACEBO: A Conversation with Ana Marie Cox

It’s a crossover conversation between The Hilarious World of Depression's John Moe and Ana Marie Cox, host of the podcast With Friends Like These. Both shows traffic in the idea of having more conversations about things that don’t get talked about very often. In that spirit, John and Ana Marie open about some events that drive them and that they have never discussed much in public. If you need immediate help, confidential help is available for free in the U.S. at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK.

1hr 20mins

5 May 2017

Rank #2

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Margaret Cho Works Out A Lot And Makes People Upset In New Jersey

She’s one of the most influential and innovative comedians of the last few decades, but before all that, Margaret Cho was a Korean-American girl growing up in the 1970s in San Francisco. We hear about the sometimes very darkly humorous ways her family and culture dealt with depression and suicide, and how she harnessed her own depression to begin her comedy. Along the way, the keys to Margaret’s often-shocking comedic style emerge and lead to making people upset in New Jersey.


2 Oct 2017

Rank #3

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Hannah Hart Gets Drunk, Tries To Make Grilled Cheese, Gets Famous, Tries To Enjoy It

Although she comes across as confident and happy on her incredibly successful YouTube channel, Hannah Hart has plenty of experience with insecurity and misery in her life. Growing up, she faced severe poverty, hunger, and dealing with a mother who was mentally ill. Still, she made it into a good college where she had to confront issues about her religion and her sexuality on her way to getting two degrees and not being able to be proud of any of it because of depression. Today, she's a star, dispensing advice on life, relationships, and how to cook when you're completely drunk. Life is full of unexpected paths sometimes. This is our final episode of season 2, but stay tuned for season 3 and bonus placebo episodes between seasons.


5 Feb 2018

Rank #4

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Episode #PLACEBO: The Things We Tell Ourselves That Help

There are many ways to address depression: therapy, meds, exercise, music. And then there are our own thoughts. We learn the mantras, reminders, and rituals that some of our listeners use to get through it when Clinny D flares up.


5 Jul 2017

Rank #5

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Neal Brennan Gives Ketamine and Magnetic Impulses a Try

If you've enjoyed any comedy in the last 20 years, there's a good chance Neal Brennan helped make it. He's a veteran comic, writer, director, and co-creator, with Dave Chappelle, of the acclaimed Chappelle's Show. Over the past 20-plus years, he's also tried everything he could think of to tame his depression. Hear Neal's epic journey to feeling pretty good.


9 Oct 2017

Rank #6

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Aparna Nancherla Is Having a Harder Time Doing Something She’s Great At

It's pretty easy to be a fan of Aparna Nancherla. Not only does she create incredibly funny, smart, relatable comedy, she does so in a variety of formats. You can catch her standup on Netflix or Spotify and you can see her acting work on shows like "Bojack Horseman" and "Corporate" as well as movies. But as she has become more famous in recent years, Aparna's anxiety and depression have made some of that work harder for her carry out. That's especially the case with standup, the foundational format for comedians. Hear how she found her calling in comedy and how she's now trying to manage her mental health in a world where she gets paid to get up in front of strangers and talk about her vulnerabilities. Check out our sponsor this week: BarkBox - Get a free extra month of BarkBox when you subscribe to a 6 or 12 month plan at barkbox.com/world


26 Nov 2018

Rank #7

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Rachel Bloom Finds Her Voice, Then Uses It To Sing About Stealing Pets and Moving to West Covina, California

Rachel Bloom has never moved across the country to chase a boy like Rebecca Bunch did. Rebecca is the character Rachel plays in "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," the hit show she co-created and stars in on The CW Network. But Rachel does have a long history of messed up romantic relationships -- plus depression and intrusive looping thoughts. And her career really took off when she got inspired by another Rebecca: Rebecca Black. You, know. That 2011 song "Friday?" Yep.


22 Jan 2018

Rank #8

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Impostor Syndrome: True Tales, Tricks, and Tactics for When You’re Feeling Fraudulent

You know the feeling, right? You finally achieve something -- a new job, a promotion, an award -- and while you know you should be proud, you just feel like a big phony who will soon be exposed. You feel like you don't really belong there and you suspect that someone else should be there instead. It's called Impostor Syndrome and it's more common than you might think. We're joined by Dr. Valerie Young to talk about who it effects and what to do about it. And we're joined by you, our listeners, sharing stories of Impostor Syndrome at its most ludicrous and the unorthodox but effective ways you've found to treat it.


27 Aug 2018

Rank #9

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Solomon Georgio Is Doing Better

It's not easy to pinpoint where L.A.-based comedian Solomon Georgio is "from." His family is Ethiopian but he was born in a refugee camp in Sudan. The family traveled to St Louis, then on to Fresno, where he was bullied so much in 2nd grade that he threatened suicide in the middle of class. Then there were many years in Seattle where he says his parents were abusive and had no tolerance for Solomon's homosexuality. A disastrous runaway trip to Los Angeles ended up in a return to Seattle where he embraced comedy and relocated himself, again and much more successfully to Southern California. His depression isn't a thing of the past but he's definitely in a good place. Support the show at HilariousWorld.org/donate. Calm -- Get 25% off a Calm Premium subscription when you visit calm.com/world


24 Dec 2018

Rank #10

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Aimee Mann Discovers That Having Feelings About Terrible Things Is Perfectly Fine

Singer/songwriter Aimee Mann has a reputation for making music that is raw, emotional, and sometimes not all that cheerful. In real life, she’s perfectly cheerful – thank you very much – and has traveled a long road of depression, anxiety, a difficult childhood, and writer’s block. Through it all, she’s taken a calm, considered, and creative approach to problem-solving that has served her well. Oh, and one time as a teenager she wrote a terrible song about hobos.


23 Oct 2017

Rank #11

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Episode #PLACEBO: Vol. 2 of Listeners’ Favorite Coping Songs

When clinical depression, the ol' Clinny D, starts getting the best of our listeners, a lot of them reach for the headphones to fire up some choice tunes. We take another spin through the therapeutic playlist and hear from The Beach Boys, the Grateful Dead, and a Taylor Swift cover you simply must listen to.


19 Jun 2017

Rank #12

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Highlights From A Hilarious Night of Depression

The show busts out of studios and quiet intimate spaces for an on-stage performance at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Comedian Mike Brown joins us for plenty of comedy and conversation. We even bust out a few games where you can play along and see if you can tell a Pokemon from an antidepressant from a weird food served at the Minnesota State Fair.


5 Mar 2018

Rank #13

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Episode #PLACEBO: Coping Ideas From a Real Live Sad Clown

More ideas from listeners for unusual methods they used to address their depression that actually worked. We’ve heard a wide variety of ideas from all over the world, including Jonna Nummela of Helsinki, Finland who tells about her clown alter-ego who takes lumps so Jonna doesn’t have to. We also hear about what Jonna brings into the sauna that confuses and alarms other Finns.


22 May 2017

Rank #14

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Linda Holmes Leaves Law to Concentrate On Watching TV and It Works Out Great

Before she was the host of NPR's popular Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, Linda Holmes was an attorney working at the Minnesota Legislature. Before that, she was a student living in squalor. And before that, she was the victim of some seriously messed up mean kid behavior. We hear about her unusual path to a better life, the older and very recent struggles she has had, and how the written word proved redemptive. We also hear about how Linda's weight was seen as a symptom of her depression when in fact the depression itself was the problem all along.


8 Jan 2018

Rank #15

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Mara Wilson Had Great Opportunities and Difficult Challenges

While it was easy for audiences to enjoy Mara Wilson as a perky child performer in movies like Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, the young actress had mental health issues that weren’t enjoyable at all. Mara had been dealing with severe anxiety for as long as she could remember. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer just before Matilda started shooting and Mara developed symptoms of OCD. Then came depression, and eventually body dysmorphia, too. Mara Wilson is 32 years old now and has relegated acting to the sidelines. She has a good grip on how her mind works and feels great about her new focus as a writer, but she knows that managing her conditions will be a lifelong job. You can pre-order John's book at bit.ly/HilariousWorldBook. Support our show today at hilariousworld.org/donate.


23 Sep 2019

Rank #16

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Jeff Tweedy Didn’t Want to Take His Doctor On Tour Because the Doctor Was Terrible

Long before Jeff Tweedy was the founder and leader of the enormously popular band Wilco, he was a kid in Illinois with severe migraines and a tendency toward anxiety and depression. He cycled through alcohol, marijuana, and, finally, opioids to try to get to the point of feeling normal and okay, even relying on a fan who worked at Walgreen’s to score him the pills he wanted. Finally, a stint in rehab and a return of self-confidence got him back on track. There’s a really sad and darkly funny story in this episode involving a teddy bear and a jar.

13 Nov 2017

Rank #17

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Gary Gulman Is a Brilliant Comedian and an Ineffective Offensive Lineman

Although Gary Gulman has been a successful stand-up comedian for decades – with acclaimed specials, a loyal fan base, and appearances on all major late night shows – this was not his original plan. Gary is 6’6” and athletically gifted, he loved basketball, and had a full ride athletic scholarship to a Division 1 program. Problem is, he had no killer instinct. He had more of a comedian instinct. Hear Gary’s journey through a lifetime of deep depression, impossible standards, and some of the funniest and weirdest comedy out there today.


30 Oct 2017

Rank #18

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Naomi Ekperigin Brings In Her Baggage, Unpacks It

"There's a lot to unpack, John," says comedian, actor, and writer Naomi Ekperigin during the course of this interview and indeed there is. The New York native, now uneasily dwelling in Los Angeles, has dealt with anxiety, depression, a very complicated relationship with her father, as well as problems with alcohol and cutting. Comedy has been in there too both as a respite from mental turmoil and sometimes a source of neurosis. With the help of her fiance' (who is also a rich source of her comedy material), sobriety, and a lot of self-awareness, she's on the rise in the comedy world.


10 Dec 2018

Rank #19

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Neko Case Leaves Bad Places, Goes to Better Places

Long before Neko Case was known as one of the top singer-songwriters working today, she was a punk teenager running around the streets of Tacoma, having ditched a neglectful and dangerous house. Fortunately for her and her eventual fans, she got her life on track, developed a strong interest in music and threw herself in to making it. We hear about how she got herself together in spite of her parents, how depression came to wallop her, and what she did to get on track once again. Plus, we hear about how she joyfully wept when trying to talk to Janelle Monae's backing band.


24 Sep 2018

Rank #20