Last night I saw Russell Howard’s Round the World tour live, and it was utterly incredible. It was a blend of observational comedy, satire, and deep thought-provoking discussions about current affairs, womens rights, self-harming and mental health. And it got me thinking, just how important I think it is that people take more time to go to comedy gigs (and indeed music, but this is focussing on comedy) as a way of coping with mental health issues.
As the world around us seems to crumble into a mess of damaging ideologies and just plain weird politics, it’s so important for people to try and look for the good in life, as Russell said yesterday you never know when the next laugh out loud moment will come, you need to look out for it. There’s something about sitting in a room full of people, people you may never have met, that connects you for two hours of laughter. Being in that one room, you’re focussed on the comedian on stage, you barely have time to think “oh did I remember to lock the back door” or “are the people behind me judging me?” or “what if I fail that exam I have next week” or “I’m so worried about the high rates of race crime.”
Of course, depending on the style of comedy you’re watching, these topics of conversation may come up, I know yesterday Russell talked about a lot of hard hitting stuff, but perfectly blended with perfect Donald Trump impressions, singing and hula hooping, you weren’t left feeling stressed. You could think about these important issues critically, then laugh, then move onto the next thing. And I think this is what’s so important. Being able to move on, it’s so easy to have something just loop around your brain, but at these gigs they don’t. Or if it’s not very political comedy, you just have a chance to laugh about the everyday things that links human beings together, whether that’s driving or football.
Being at the gig you feel at ease, or at least I do. I know I feel so much less anxious about what other people are thinking about me when I’m sat down in a gig, than when I’m just simply walking by a road. I sometimes wonder if the comedian on stage realises the positive impact they have on people’s mental health.