10 Anxiety-Friendly Stand Up Comedians
Sometimes, when anxiety hits, I need a good distraction. They say that laughter is the best medicine, so what better way to distract myself than to throw myself deep into the world of comedy and hope for the best.
Let's face it, comedy is ENJOYABLE, but I think it is also important to recognise the power of laughter as a self care method.
The people in this list are here not only because I find them hilarious, but also because they all genuinely seem like nice people - and that's so important for someone who is living with chronic anxiety, and therefore overthinking absolutely every life decision they make (That's me - Hi!).
I can't guarantee that their stand up material is 100% trigger free, as with everything else, there's always an element of risk involved, but on the whole I trust these guys to be pretty "Anxiety Friendly". I've also seen most of these comedians live, and can vouch for them IRL too (in fact, they only get better in person...)
In no particular order:
#1 Sarah Millican
Sarah Millican is pretty safe bet, when it comes to comedy. She's friendly, she's hilarious and it's pretty easy to find her material. I have 2 of Sarah's audio books downloaded on my Audible App and have found that they're really comforting when I'm on the bus or trying to sleep (I'm not saying you're boring Sarah - promise!).
I wanted to reach out to people who were lonely at Christmas this year, because it's been a tough time of year for me since my mum died in 2009, and I did so using the hashtag that Sarah created #JoinIn, the # was so successful that it has since expanded into the #JoinIn247, where people are available to chat at all times, for those who need an ear. THANKS SARAH!
#2 Ed Byrne
Ed's great. He's very rant-y, which may sound like a bad thing, but is really good at distracting me from whatever it is I'm worrying about (actually, a lot of the time he gives me new and more ridiculous things to worry about, which I like!). I've seen him live twice and can say with quite a bit of confidence that his material is pretty trigger free - ooh AND his set called "different class" is an old one now, but an absolute classic.
#3 James Acaster
James recently released a special on Netflix called "Repertoire", which I really enjoyed. There are 4 parts, which makes it perfect for a whole evening of taking your mind off the worries of life. I thought for a moment, I was going to be mentally fucked when he started talking about the start of the Universe at the beginning of part 2 [I have existential anxiety, and am easily triggered], but his bizarre delivery kept me engrossed and stopped my mind wandering into scary places.
#4 Mark Watson
I was always going love Mark Watson, because he used to do his stand up in a Welsh accent and that had me immediately sold, but he is actually one of my all time favourite comedians. The first time I saw him (yes, I've bothered to see him 4 times, which is a big deal with social anxiety), I cried after the show with relief at having laughed so much. It wasn't long after my mum had died, and I was really repressed at the time, so to laugh felt really really good. I've seen him several times since, most recently at the Leadmill in Sheffield, where he actually spoke to me (something about dogs and cheese - standard) and actually pronounced my name right! 10/10 Mark. Well done.
OH and if it isn't enough that he's lovely and hilarious too - he also made a radio show called "Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better" - there are 2 series with 2 Tims and and a Tom and it's so ridiculous that it will make your walk to work or train journey or drive home substantially better.
#5 Sara Pascoe
Sara Pascoe is a panel show queen and bloody hilarious. I've also heard her talk several times about how conscious she is about the comfort of her audience and about putting them at ease, which is one of my favourite things about her. My second favourite thing about her is her audio book (I realised I keep calling these audio books, but they're actually probably also very much books too). Sara's book "Animal" is amazing and well worth a listen. It's funny and well delivered, but the thing I liked most about it was that from the very beginning it was thought provoking and I felt like I was learning.
I just had a quick look for Animal and could no longer find it, but keep an eye out because I'm sure it will be available somewhere.
#6 Sue Perkins
Sue's another great comedian with an audio book that I absolutely adored listening to (Releasing an audio book definitely earns people brownie points in my world) and 99.999999999% of the book was perfect. In fact, 100% of the book was perfect. It was incredibly touching; so touching in fact that I cried at the chapter about her dog. I woke up in the middle of the night (as I often do) and luckily for me, the audio book was running, so I was immediately distracted from anxiety - not so lucky for me, the chapter was a letter to a no-longer-alive pooch, so I was also crying my little heart out at 3am. I'm super sensitive when it comes to worrying about my dog - and even I thought it was awesome!
#7 Bo Burnham
I challenge you to watch Bo Burnham's stand up and not be distracted enough to forget the world for an hour or two. It's bizarre, it's intelligent, it's powerful and it's so on the nail. It's actually littered with potentially triggering subject matter, but isn't anxiety inducing at all.
#8 Deborah Frances-White
I've been saved from the edges of panic many a time by listening to the Guilty Feminist podcast. It's hilarious and inclusive and brilliant, and it's how I found DFW. You can find so much awesome stuff that she's done online, not just stand up but radio shows and a Ted X talk. She's a comedian with a social conscience and, although she tackles some difficult topics, is one who always somehow makes you feel better. The Guilty Feminist podcast actually taught me and my friends to communicate more directly and, since listening, you'll often hear us shouting "DON'T QUALIFY!" at each other, rather aggressively. Go and listen to the Guilty Feminist Podcast IMMEDIATELY (well, after listening to mine).
#9 Alan Davies
Reasons to love Alan Davies
Quite Interesting (QI)
- Jonathan Creek
- He's hilarious
I went to watch him live and he had me in stitches, but I also spent a large part of his show thinking "WOW. What a NICE GUY." and there's something so incredibly warm and comfortable about being distracted by how nice you think someone is.
#10 Miranda Hart
Miranda's TV show is the total opposite of sensible or serious, and it's pure escapism. I very much think of it as my go to "break up" TV Show (because I first discovered it during a difficult break up), but it has become familiar enough that I have since promoted it to just one of my go to regular shows. I like that Miranda is silly and awkward and clumsy, because it really helps me find a way to laugh at the little mistakes I make, rather than dwell on them. It's important to find the funny in what life throws at you, laughing is a REALLY AWESOME coping mechanism.