Chris Gethard isn’t a household name, but he has established himself as one of the more unique voices in comedy. The bespectacled comedian has appeared in the series Broad City and last year’s wonderful movie Don’t Think Twice, as well as his own talk show The Chris Gethard Show, which aired on Fusion following a lengthy run on public access. Earlier this year, Gethard brought his one-man show to HBO in his very own special Chris Gethard: Career Suicide. Many comedians tread in the terrain of autobiography, but few reach the level of honesty and intimacy that Gethard does with Career Suicide. If you were unfamiliar with the work of Chris Gethard, Career Suicide is a perfect illustration of the special talents of the comedian, one that blends hilarious jokes with heart and compassion.
With Career Suicide, Gethard covers a 15-year span of his life, one fraught with struggles with depression and mental illness. The comedian doesn’t hide a single aspect of his struggle and amusingly tells the story of his own suicide attempt – yes, it’s a funny story of an attempted suicide. Chris Gethard goes back and forth between his internal struggle and how it plays against the backdrop of his family and career aspirations in the world of comedy. There’s a bravery to the most personal and intimate aspects of Chris Gethard’s life and psyche within the nuanced brilliance of Career Suicide, a level of personal and emotional honesty reminiscent of Richard Pryor’s most self-reflective stand-up sets.
What is so special about what Gethard has done with Career Suicide is how he really destigmatizes mental illness with a potent mixture of honesty and humor. There’s no stretch of the special that is devoid of hilarious jokes and anecdotes, and Gethard’s form often leads to big build ups that explode in great moments of hilarity. Taking what is probably some of the trickiest things to joke about, Chris Gethard constructs amusing stories that are centered round a feeling of hopelessness as well as just how hard it can be to ask for help. The special finds the comedian joking about the various medications he’s had to take over the years, cracking jokes about the side effects as well as how those fears that many have about such medications are unsubstantiated.
For 90 minutes, Chris Gethard cracks up the audience with his touching, honest look at his own struggles with depression. At the conclusion of Career Suicide, the comedian tearfully implores those watching to seek help if they need it. It’s just another moment that underscores the heartfelt empathy that runs through each and every joke within his special. Chris Gethard: Career Suicide is a comedy special that is truly special. The laughter and the tears intersect in this moving, honest, heartfelt work that firmly establishes that Chris Gethard is one of the most vital voices in comedy, one that’s willing to laugh at the toughest aspects one might be facing but never with an edge of cynicism or condescension. It’s one thing to be really funny, but it’s a whole other thing when you’re as a funny and earnest as Chris Gethard is here.
Chris Gethard: Career Suicide
With lots of laughs and plenty of tears, Chris Gethard: Career Suicide is a magnificent comedy special that examines the comedian’s personal struggle with depression with heartfelt honesty and ample hilarity.