Chris Gethard: Career Suicide
A bold Fringe debut about depression which manages to be as hilarious as it is horrifying
The recent rise in performers at the Fringe discussing mental illness is a sign of our willingness to finally address a subject that has long been hidden away in the drawer marked 'last taboos'. But there can be few comedy shows which have quite nailed the minutiae of despair and the bottomless black holes which those affected find themselves in than Chris Gethard's Career Suicide.
This New Jersey-born comic has been a rising star on the US comedy scene for some time now, having appeared in the likes of Broad City and Parks and Recreation while his own off-kilter cable talk show has enhanced his reputation. None of the plaudits which those projects have brought him really make a dent though when thoughts of self-destruction have accompanied him throughout his life. Sure, his pills have helped when he realised that self-medicating via alcohol wasn't the best idea and he has long used the services of Barb, a therapist he clearly loves but who he admits has no concept of professional boundaries and might not actually be very good at her job.
All of which sounds a little too miserable for a comedy show (and worryingly, he admits to having missed out a large chunk of his recent biography due to its rawness), but Gethard has managed to find not just the funny in his life story, but the truly hilarious. The tale of him more or less attempting suicide in a suburban road accident features an angry trucker wearing inappropriate denim shorts while a gaggle of Carmela Sopranos rush to the scene only for Gethard to be morally compromised by his guardian angel. Aided by the lyrics of Morrissey through his darkest times, it's unlikely that full-blown praise from critics will do much to ease his pain. But acclaim is certainly the least Gethard deserves for psychologically digging out a movingly funny debut hour.
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug (not 15), 10pm, £9–£11 (£8–£10).