NO ONE CAN

Time Out (Melbourne) - - THE BEST MEDICINE - The Bed­room Philoso­pher: Cat Show, Bag­ging Room, Malt­house The­atre, 113 Sturt St, South­bank 3006. 1300 660 013. www.com­e­dyfes­ti­val.com.au. Tue-sat 8.30pm; Sun 7.30pm. $25-$28. Mar 30-Apr 9.

ac­cuse the Bed­room Philoso­pher – real name Justin Hea­zle­wood – of be­ing guarded when it comes to talk­ing about the harsh re­al­i­ties of be­ing an artist in Aus­tralia. The mu­si­cal co­me­dian’s 2014 book Funem­ployed is a very per­sonal in­sight into his tu­mul­tuous 12-year ca­reer, which cul­mi­nated in a 2012 show that left him in mas­sive debt, burnt out and an­gry at an in­dus­try that he had poured ev­ery­thing into: his time, money, health and self-worth. He de­votes a whole chap­ter of the mem­oir to the men­tal and phys­i­cal toll of be­ing an artist. “It was re­ally heal­ing,” says Hea­zle­wood. “I think a lot of artists are like, ‘oh, bet­ter not let any­one know that I’m strug­gling or I might not sell as many tick­ets ’cos I won’t look cool as shit.’” Hea­zle­wood be­lieves that be­ing a co­me­dian is par­tic­u­larly haz­ardous to men­tal health. “I have a wanky joke where I’m like, ‘yeah, I’m an emo­tional miner, I’m go­ing down down the tun­nel of my own self and un­lock­ing dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals to find nuggets of in­sight.’ It’s a joke, but that’s roughly how it is. There’s parts of our­selves the av­er­age per­son keeps locked up and hid­den away and doesn’t go any­where near, ’cos it’s ter­ri­fy­ing.” The pay-off? Art that “re­minds us that we’re all hu­man. Half the emails I get are from peo­ple go­ing ‘I’m so glad it’s not just me who feels like a fuck-up.’” Cat Show will be Hea­zle­wood’s first MICF ap­pear­ance since 2012 – and it’s al­most ex­actly what it sounds like. “Along the way you for­get to have fun as an artist be­cause you take it so se­ri­ously. So I tried to be silly: it’s about cats. There’s an eight-and-a-half-minute bal­lad about a heroic mat­tress pro­tec­tor called ‘Mat­tress Pro­tec­tor’. There’s a song call ‘I Think My Cat’s Got De­pres­sion’ which runs through the men­tal ill­nesses and how cats dis­play the clas­sic be­hav­iours of those ill­nesses.” This time around, Hea­zle­wood is putting some of the self-care tips he sug­gests in his book into prac­tice. “I’ve done a lot of de­tach­ing my sense of self-worth to my com­edy prac­tice, which is help­ful… and I have this lit­tle mantra when things aren’t go­ing quite as well: ‘Fuck man, you’re just do­ing a com­edy gig about cats. How worked up can you get about this?’”

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