IT IS NOT

Time Out (Melbourne) - - THE BEST MEDICINE - Ruby Wax: Fraz­zled, Play­house, Arts Cen­tre Mel­bourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Mel­bourne 3004. 1300 660 013. www.com­e­dyfes­ti­val.com.au. Thu-sat 7pm; Sun 6pm. $35-$42. Mar 30-Apr 2.

an over­state­ment to say that Ruby Wax – vet­eran Amer­i­can/bri­tish ac­tress, co­me­dian, aca­demic and au­thor – is a pi­o­neer when it comes to talk­ing about men­tal ill­ness and mak­ing it funny. The Uk-based co­me­dian be­came the self­de­scribed “poster girl for men­tal ill­ness” nearly a decade ago, when posters for Bri­tish char­ity Comic Re­lief ap­peared in Un­der­ground sta­tions across Lon­don say­ing “One in four peo­ple have men­tal ill­ness, one in five peo­ple have dan­druff. I have both.” From there, Wax wrote a hugely pop­u­lar show about the at-times de­bil­i­tat­ing de­pres­sion that she had suf­fered from in si­lence for most of her life. Since then, she has worked as a men­tal health cam­paigner and gained a mas­ter’s de­gree in mind­ful­ness-based cog­ni­tive ther­apy from Ox­ford. But Wax is quick to men­tion that her new show, Fraz­zled, is not about men­tal ill­ness. “I don’t use my dis­ease again and again – it bet­ter be fuck­ing good if you’re go­ing to talk about your men­tal ill­ness, that’s all I’m say­ing. I’m talk­ing about the hu­man con­di­tion. How we’re liv­ing now. We should be hav­ing the time of our lives, but we’re fraz­zled. It’s not stress, be­cause we need stress. It’s the think­ing about stress. Peo­ple say, ‘oh my god I’m so stressed, I’m run off my feet.’ What the hell does that mean – you’re run­ning around on your an­kle stubs? It’s like a badge of hon­our… but the sta­tis­tics are re­ally bad. In the past, no­body ever died of stress. And now we are.” Fraz­zled is based on her 2016 book, A Mind­ful­ness Guide for the Fraz­zled, which of­fers a way out of the modern con­di­tion of ‘fraz­zle’ with a six-week course in mind­ful­ness based on her Ox­ford stud­ies. As for any link be­tween co­me­di­ans be­ing more likely to ex­pe­ri­ence men­tal ill­ness (the sad clown cliché is a per­sis­tent one), Wax dis­agrees. “No, there’s no link. Be­cause one in four peo­ple have this dis­ease, and I would say that not that many peo­ple are funny. It has noth­ing to do it; it’s ge­netic and it’s up­bring­ing.”

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