So You Want To Be A Mental Health Humorist!

July 11, 2012 Alistair McHarg

Response to my recent audio blog welcoming applications for the position of summer intern was overwhelming! (Who knew so many people are interested in the rapidly expanding field of mental health humor!) Finalist names appear below.

Our Finalists

1. Nigel Frampton

2. Priscilla Scintilla

3. Chumley Throckmorton

4. Isadora Doughnutz

5. Pasquale Pontevecchio

6. Salma Chanted Evenning

7. “The Quandary”

8. Polly Purebread

9. Marcel “School Spirit” Witherspoon

Congratulations to all of these plucky contenders – and to every one who entered. You’re all winners! (Okay, technically, you’re all losers but as part of today’s PC climate we have to put a positive spin on things.)

This year’s summer intern is: Antoine Incubator Remington.

After detailing my car, Antoine posed the question I get asked more frequently than any other, “How the heck does a person get started in the increasingly popular mental illness/mental health comedy writing game, Mr. McHarg?” I smiled enigmatically, began knitting my eyebrows, and replied thusly.

“Son, there’s few that sail these waters and those who choose to do-be-do-be-do rarely survive. You can’t make fun of people with disabilities, that’s tacky. So the only way to pull it off is by getting a disability yourself.”

“Really?” Antoine asked, reeking of exposition.

“Really, I replied,” demonstrating I was quite able to stoop to his level if it served my purposes. “I was fortunate, you see, in an unfortunate sort of way. I didn’t actually have to develop a mental illness, or contract a contagious one by hanging around in places where mentally ill people congregate such as bus stations, NASCAR rallies, and political conventions. That’s because I already had one.”

“Do tell,” Antoine urged, as if roused from a catnap.

“Yes,” I replied, rising to the theme. I was diagnosed bipolar decades ago, long before it was cool, before fading rockers were feigning mania to revive sagging careers.”

“You lucky rat!” Antoine could barely conceal his jealousy.

“I know, right?” I replied, intentionally helping to perpetuate a pop catchphrase I loathe. “So you, my fine feathered friend, will have to get yourself a really difficult illness, to establish credibility. Then and only then will you have the knowledge, and authority, to write humorously on the subject.”

“Wow,” Antoine responded, his mind like a becalmed ocean stirred by just one flying fish, “but all the best ones are already taken! Rats!”

“Indeed they are,” I rejoined, mentor to mentee, “indeed they are.

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2012, July 11). So You Want To Be A Mental Health Humorist!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

Holly Gray
July, 12 2012 at 9:32 pm

Hilarious, as usual. You always make me laugh but my favorite part of your work, Alistair, is that subtle but razor sharp seriousness the hilarity brings into focus ... for those who choose to see it. As a reader, it delights me. As a writer, it inspires me. Because the older I get and the more I read about health and mental health (which is about 99.999% just a whole bunch of us repeating the same things to each other and congratulating ourselves on offering a "unique perspective") the more it seems the only mental health writing worth doing is humor.
And you do it so well. :)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
July, 13 2012 at 5:14 am

Holly: These wonderful words mean so much coming from you, Holly. I admire you as a person, a writer, and a spiritual warrior. - For me it is all so simple. Recovery demands brutal honesty. When we look at life without blinking, it is hard, and full of pain - as well as beautiful. We can respond by crying - or by laughing - they are essentially the same reaction. But the key is acceptance, to embrace life as it is, to love it as it is. Doing so leads inevitably to a celebration of absurdity - especially when one looks at the affairs of humans. Our ego, vanity, cruelty, self-destructiveness, ambition, posturing are simply so preposterous that one can only laugh. But - this is it - there is all the difference between laughing AT and laughing WITH. Very best regards my friend. A

Randye Kaye
July, 12 2012 at 3:50 am

Hi Alistair - I love this! what a great blog, and post. Just about to link to you from my blog here on healthy place...after hearing the stand-up comics (whose topics range from medication side effects to the need for "frequent flyer points" for those who use the Emergency Room more than others) at NAMI National Convention, I am more assured than ever that humor is a major key to understanding and acceptance. Bravo!
Randye Kaye
"Mental Illness in the Family" blog (not the funniest title, I admit...)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
July, 12 2012 at 4:44 am

Hi Randye: In fairness I should admit that I am a big fan of your work and think you are extremely honest and extremely brave - qualities I admire. -- All my work rides the crest between a passionate commitment to telling the truth - however difficult - and seeking out the intrinsic humor in all life. To me it is a natural fit. - Sure hope you've read Invisible Driving - my bipolar memoir - by now. It is a great example of this. I have had readers say they were laughing hysterically and crying at the same time as they read. Very best regards, Alistair.

Alistair McHarg
July, 12 2012 at 12:54 am

Thanks Cindy. I'm sure Antoine will find something suitable, they're developing new ones all the time!

July, 11 2012 at 4:59 pm

Hi Alistair! What great finalists you had. I'm sure Antoine will do well, he might even find a new mental illness along the way. Well wishes to you!

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