Today’s post is an interview with Drew Landrya stand-up comedian and writer from Maryland, currently based in Los Angeles. Drew is very open and honest about mental health in his work. In this interview, we talked about his approach to comedy, mental health and his recent comedy special. Thanks for speaking with me, Drew!
First off, I wanted to ask you about your work. How did you get into stand-up comedy?
When I was a little kid I wanted to be a comedian, I had an SNL “Best of Chris Farley” DVD I would watch all the time. In middle school I watched a lot of stand-up on TV, like a lot of Comedy Central specials, and I wanted to try it, so when I was 13 I did stand-up at my middle school talent show. Obviously, I wasn’t good, but I immediately caught the bug and fell in love with doing it. So I started doing stand-up at this coffeehouse open mic near me every week. When I was 16 they started letting me perform in bars and comedy clubs.
Comedy can be a good outlet for our mental health – why do you think that is?
It’s a HUGE, annoying cliche to say this, and I hate that I’m gonna say it but I think it’s true, I think a lot of comedians are just really fucked up people. Whether it’s mental illness or addiction issues. And you kind of write jokes about the things that are on your mind, so if you’re struggling with mental health you’re naturally going to write jokes about it because it’s just a thing that you’re thinking about a lot. Obviously, it can go too far. You’ll see a lot of comics at open mics who just rant about their depression and don’t have punchlines, it’s exhausting to sit through. So your comedy can’t just be a therapy session, you still need to have jokes.
You have been open about living with bipolar disorder. How/Why do you incorporate that into your work?
I used to be really embarrassed about being bipolar, I kept it a secret. Then I realized how freeing it was to be open about it. It was a great feeling to go from “I can’t ever let anyone know I’m bipolar” to telling jokes about being bipolar onstage. It helped me get rid of that shame and embarrassment about it.
Congratulations on your recent comedy special, “All My Friends Are Dead.” This is a deeply personal set – how has making this impacted you, and what’s the response been like?
The responses have made me happy. I wanted it to be a tribute first and foremost, while still having constant punchlines and never feeling like a monologue or a one-man show, and I also really wanted it to be comfort food for anyone who’s going through grief. I can’t tell if I fully accomplished that but based on the responses I’ve gotten it seems like I did.
What is your personal approach to mental health? What do you do to maintain mental wellness?
Exercise is the biggest thing, even if it’s just a tiny bit of exercise, just being physically active, I think it makes a huge difference, at least for me.
What is your favorite thing about stand-up comedy?
It might be a boring answer but honestly, it’s just so fun to do There’s nothing more fun. The adrenaline rush, it’s just the best.
Drew Landry is a stand-up comedian and writer from Maryland, currently based in Los Angeles. He went on tour with Carlos Mencia two weeks after graduating high school, and he has also toured with Dana Gould and Iliza Shlesinger.
Landry performed at the Just For Laughs festival in Vancouver in 2022, and he hosts the monthly show Salty AF at the Hollywood Improv. He created and wrote the humor section for the popular hip-hop site DJBooth and has also written satire articles for the college website Total Sorority Move. His articles on Medium have received millions of views, including his 2017 piece “I Have a Theory That Donald Glover and Childish Gambino Are Secretly The Same Person” which went viral. He was recently named one of the top 50 Humor writers on Medium.