Laura Levites: Selfhelpless
Autobiographical self-evisceration from the New-York City comedian
This article is from 2013.
Appearing both fragile and abrasive, Laura Levites lays bare her mental health and flogs it for all its comic potential. She recounts her depressive symptoms and the ways she tried to alleviate them. Shopping factors highly in both, and Levites spends much time regaling us with her trials on eBay.
After that it's a foray into the various methods of self-help that are available and, on which, she offers an interesting historical perspective. There's plenty to lay into in the self-help industry – the way it enforces a culture of normativity, its collusion with capitalism, the cloying smugness of many of its proponents – but Levites pulls her punches and merely grazes the topic.
It's a cliché that artists (and especially comics) need to be tortured in order to find inspiration but her set comes alive when she unflinchingly delves into the worst moments of her life, her delivery becoming more and more aggressive. Presenting it as autobiography rather than character comedy raises questions about the ethics of enjoying such self-evisceration. Hopefully Levites gets someting out of it, too.
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