Saturday, May 20, 2017

Worrying about Ben

I had been meaning to write that Ben Pobjie worries me.   I first noticed him, as many people probably have, through his funny, satirical pieces on My Kitchen Rules at Fairfax.   He still writes them, now at that website, although I do think he has probably taken it as far as he can, and they are getting a bit repetitious now.  

But I also notice his tweets, and this year there have been lots of them about promoting his stand up comedy work, but seemingly with more than the occasional touch of desperation about the number of tickets being sold, and the lack of (as far as I could see) enthusiastic endorsements.   He will then sometimes tweet about how he feels a failure.   I see from one short Youtube clip from it, that he talks about feeling suicidal as part of the show.  (Another Youtube clip, at a different venue, and he seems to be struggling for laughs from the audience.)

Today, I see that he has written at length in Fairfax about his ongoing struggles with mental health issues, and being taken by the police to hospital when he was, presumably, threatening suicide - it sounds like his wife called the police.  He doesn't say when this happened - it could have been years ago.

But in any event, well, talk about your comedians who try comedy as a form of public self therapy. 

I find it difficult to understand this - I'm in whatever you would call the group of people (introverts?) who can't imagine that if  they developed serious mental health issue, it could possibly help to stand up in public and talk to strangers about it.   But it is such a common thing, it seems, that comedians want to talk about their unhappiness, to strangers,  and are often very troubled and unhappy people away from the stage anyway. 

I have a great deal of sympathy for people like Ben who do have ongoing issues, but I'm sorely tempted to suggest to them something like "mate, perhaps if you stop talking to every one about it all the time, you might improve.  Find just the one person who helps you when you talk to him or her about it, but stop talking to everyone about it."  This doesn't exactly align with Ben's approach, I think!

I could well be telling him to suck eggs here, but my guess would be that cognitive behaviour therapy would be the best style of therapy for someone like him to try.  

Apart from that, I would suggest he give up stand up comedy if he's not selling tickets.  There is no shame in that - and its record as a form of therapy, or a way to earn a steady dollar, is very, very poor, anyway.

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