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A show about clinical depression...with laughs? Well, yeah. Depression is an incredibly common and isolating disease experienced by millions, yet often stigmatized by society. The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with this disease, hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe. Join guests such as Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Richter, and Jen Kirkman to learn how they’ve dealt with depression and managed to laugh along the way. If you have not met the disease personally, it’s almost certain that someone you know has, whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague, or neighbor. Depression is a vicious cycle of solitude and stigma that leaves people miserable and sometimes dead. Frankly, we’re not going to put up with that anymore. The Hilarious World of Depression is not medical treatment and should not be seen as a substitute for therapy or medication. But it is a chance to gain some insight, have a few laughs, and realize that people with depression are not alone and that together, we can all feel a bit better.


Episode #PLACEBO: Imagine Depression as a Person and Describe Them

August 28, 2017 · Duration: 13:23 · Play

What if clinical depression was not just a thing in someone’s brain but an actual other person entirely? What would they look like? Act like? Who would they be? And how would you interact with such a person? It’s a mental exercise that many find helpful in isolating the disease from the self to better […]

Episode #PLACEBO: How to Get Help

August 15, 2017 · Duration: 23:58 · Play

If you are having problems with your mental health, please get help. You’ve heard that before on this show and probably plenty of other places as well. But how do you actually do that? How do you go about finding professional help to get things on a better track? It’s a process that can be […]

Episode #PLACEBO: Hitting the Nail on the Head

July 31, 2017 · Duration: 13:10 · Play

Depression can be really hard to define, making it difficult for anyone who doesn’t have it to be understand it. And that can make the people who do have it feel that much more alone. We asked our listeners what movie, TV show, artwork, or other piece of culture gets depression right. The answers range […]

Episode #PLACEBO: The Things We Tell Ourselves That Help

July 5, 2017 · Duration: 13:04 · Play

There are many ways to address depression: therapy, meds, exercise, music. And then there are our own thoughts. We learn the mantras, reminders, and rituals that some of our listeners use to get through it when Clinny D flares up.

Episode #PLACEBO: Vol. 2 of Listeners’ Favorite Coping Songs

June 19, 2017 · Duration: 21:49 · Play

When clinical depression, the ol’ Clinny D, starts getting the best of our listeners, a lot of them reach for the headphones to fire up some choice tunes. We take another spin through the therapeutic playlist and hear from The Beach Boys, the Grateful Dead, and a Taylor Swift cover you simply must listen to.

Episode #PLACEBO: Listeners’ Favorite Coping Songs

June 5, 2017 · Duration: 16:05 · Play

We asked our listeners to tell us about the songs they use when depression is hitting hard. Take a listen to some of the responses, both the songs themselves and the stories behind them in this highly musical trip through the jukebox that is Clinny D. You won’t often find mix tapes with Doris Day, […]

Episode #PLACEBO: Coping Ideas From a Real Live Sad Clown

May 22, 2017 · Duration: 13:35 · Play

More ideas from listeners for unusual methods they used to address their depression that actually worked. We’ve heard a wide variety of ideas from all over the world, including Jonna Nummela of Helsinki, Finland who tells about her clown alter-ego who takes lumps so Jonna doesn’t have to. We also hear about what Jonna brings […]

Episode #PLACEBO: A Conversation with Ana Marie Cox

May 5, 2017 · Duration: 1:20:08 · Play

It’s a crossover conversation between The Hilarious World of Depression’s John Moe and Ana Marie Cox, host of the podcast With Friends Like These. Both shows traffic in the idea of having more conversations about things that don’t get talked about very often. In that spirit, John and Ana Marie open about some events that […]

Episode #PLACEBO: The Return of Peter Sagal

April 10, 2017 · Duration: 11:38 · Play

Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! was our guest on the very first episode of our podcast. He used the occasion to break a long silence and tell the world that he’s struggled with depression, the first time he had told anyone other than a doctor. On this placebo episode, we check […]

Episode #PLACEBO: Billy Joel, Intrusive Thoughts Named Steve, and Nocturnal Carpentry

March 13, 2017 · Duration: 17:55 · Play

THWoD stops by to say hello with a mini-episode. A not-really-an-episode. A placebo. Instead of talking to professional comedians, host John Moe talks to some listeners of the show about their surprisingly amusing tales of struggling with depression. We hear about the power of a pair of concert tickets, a very special friend who isn’t […]

Episode #9: Paul F. Tompkins Sees Dead Grass and Has Screwed Up Relationships

February 6, 2017 · Duration: 53:52 · Play

Comedian and actor Paul F. Tompkins is known for being friendly and delightful both on stage and off. And that’s pretty surprising given that he grew up in a home where his parents slept in separate rooms, each likely struggling with undiagnosed and untreated depression, and conflict and anger were all around. Hear how comedy […]

Episode #8: Baron Vaughn and His Inadvisable All-Cheerio Diet

January 30, 2017 · Duration: 45:35 · Play

The life of a professional comedian and actor can be glamorous at times. You get recognized, go to the occasional celebrity party, maybe have a lot of strangers know your name. But it didn’t feel all that swanky to Baron Vaughn when he was holed up in a Vancouver apartment for days at a time, […]

Episode #7: Jen Kirkman, Bad Therapy, Good Therapy, and Nuclear Invasion

January 23, 2017 · Duration: 42:47 · Play

Before she was a successful LA comic with a new Netflix special, Jen Kirkman was a somewhat confused kid growing up in Boston. Hear how she got screwed up by nuclear war anxiety, found her calling in comedy, and ultimately learned to leverage her creativity and imagination to take on depression and anxiety.

Episode #6: Supershow! Eight Comedians! One Chronic Mental Illness!

January 16, 2017 · Duration: 45:44 · Play

When it comes to struggles with depression, everyone’s story is different. But a lot of the time, the stories can be pretty similar. In this episode, we point out some common themes that seem to rise up in a whole lot of conversations with comedians. Join us for a journey through feeling awful and trying some things to feel better with Michael Ian Black, Aparna Nancherla, Mike Drucker, Jordan Carlos, Jenny Jaffe, Jake Weisman, Sara Benincasa, and Bill Corbett.

Episode #5: Andy Richter on Youthful Melancholy and Twisted Entertainers

January 9, 2017 · Duration: 42:01 · Play

It’s not exactly normal for a 5-year-old kid to listen to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” over and over and over, but Andy Richter didn’t know that. It felt natural to him. The actor and longtime comedic accompanist to Conan O’Brien relates his childhood in Illinois, the impact of divorce on his nascent depression, and how he plugged away at finding both an effective treatment and who he really was. Also, are ALL people who go into comedy at least a little twisted? Here Andy’s answer.

Episode #4: Dick Cavett Tells Tales of Hollywood’s Secret Shame

January 2, 2017 · Duration: 34:54 · Play

Just about everyone who mattered in the ’60s and ’70s hung out with Dick Cavett. His talk shows were hilarious, candid, and culturally vital. They were snarky before David Letterman ever hit the air, and sharp before Jon Stewart showed up on anyone’s TV. Along the way, he managed to infuriate Richard Nixon such that the President plotted attacks against him, which is when you know you’ve really arrived. On this episode, Dick talks about his own struggles with depression as well as the struggles of people he knew, including Judy Garland, Laurence Olivier, Marlon Brando, and Groucho Marx.

Episode #3: Sam Grittner Finds a Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Suicide

December 26, 2016 · Duration: 39:33 · Play

It was an otherwise ordinary morning in May when Sam decided it was the right time to die. In some ways it was a surprising decision. He had managed to kick most of the substance abuse problems that he had wrestled with for years. Oxy, ecstasy, crack, heroin, and booze were no longer part of his life. Depression was still there, though, and so was a lot of frustration about his comedy career and personal life. So he went for it and swallowed more pills than he would ever need to kill himself. Then something else happened.

Episode #2: Maria Bamford Talks Bipolar II While Her Pugs Eat Nilla Wafers

December 19, 2016 · Duration: 37:15 · Play

For some people, treating depression is a matter of going to a doctor or therapist, maybe getting some meds, and then feeling better. For comedian and actress Maria Bamford, the path to doing better was way longer and more complicated. She shares her experiences with depression, OCD, hypomania, and persistent, unwanted disturbing thoughts, as well as bad therapy, ineffective in-patient treatment, and breakdowns. A diagnosis of Bipolar II, which covered a lot of what was wrong with her, and some Googling helped put her on track to become the healthier person she is today.

Episode #1: Peter Sagal Opens Up

December 12, 2016 · Duration: 38:11 · Play

The longtime host of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me has battled depression for much of his life but has never gone public with that struggle until now. Sagal recently went through what was for him a very painful and very messy divorce. He shares how he’s been able to move on and host a weekly comedy program even as his life was falling apart. Some of the methods: keeping very busy and listening to Amy Poehler. We also hear from Peter Sagal’s friend, the neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, on what helps and hurts a depressed person’s brain in times of crisis.

Episode #0: The Hilarious World of Depression — coming soon!

November 30, 2016 · Duration: 3:47 · Play

A sneak preview of some of the voices you’ll hear on the upcoming season of The Hilarious World of Depression. Host John Moe talks to some of the top names in comedy who share candid conversation about their experience with depression and have a few laughs along the way.