Sometimes there are those “aha” moments in therapy that can change your perspective on things and help you realize life’s not so bad. You’ll find insights like that and belly laughs in Career Suicide, a one man show by Chris Gethard at the Lynn Redgrave Theater in the East Village. The show tells the story of Gethard’s struggle with depression, alcoholism and self-destructive behavior, adventures—and misadventures with therapists—and his comedy performing and writing career. Act fast, because the performance closes January 8.
Gethard stars in The Chris Gethard Show, a hit on Fusion, and is a blogger, podcaster, Upright Citizens Brigade alumni, and a recurring character on Comedy Central’s Broad City. He also was featured in Don’t Think Twice, Mike Birbiglia’s film about an improv comedy troupe.
The 80-minute show starts with Gethard talking about a brush with suicide as a college student. The deed took place on Valley Road in Clifton. He recklessly tries to pass a pickup truck while thinking that being remembered for dying in a car accident is better than the stigma of suicide. His failed attempt ends with him gaining consciousness as three women — all sounding like Carmella Soprano — wonder if he’s dead or alive, the driver of the pickup truck “dressed in a flannel shirt tucked into a pair of ‘Daisy Duke’ cut-off jeans” wanting to mess him up and a good Samaritan who saves him from the irate pick up truck driver.
Other memorable moments include stories about his brother being beaten up by a dwarf and Barb, his therapist, who now sees him via Skype and believes our brains are computers installed by aliens. The native of West Orange is a big fan of Morrissey, British pop icon and former frontman for the Smiths, and punctuates moments throughout the show with the singer’s lyrics that focus on being a social outsider. He also sports two Morrissey-related tattoos.
Good comedy does more with less and that’s Gethard’s formula for Career Suicide. It’s just him on stage, striped shirt, glasses and a haircut reminiscent of Martin Short’s Grimley character. His polished storytelling is the only vehicle he needs, amplified by some nice lighting effects courtesy of director Kimberly Senior and light designers Jen Schriever and Trevor Dewey.
Gethard takes us on a journey that successfully walks the tightrope of telling stories of his struggles with suicidal depression and making the audience laugh again and again. He shines a sympathetic light on mental illness that exposes how myopic and cruel the “suicide is the coward’s way out” conventional wisdom is. His approach to his depression is honest and hopeful.
“Chris Gethard: Career Suicide.”
Where: The Lynn Redgrave Theater, 45 Bleecker St. (at Lafayette Street) Manhattan.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with 4:30 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday, through January 8.
Cost: $48-$58, CareerSuicideShow.com or call 866-811-4111.