Sunday, June 22, 2008

Comic tackles mental illness on stage

Ruby Wax

American comic Ruby Wax, who has spent years fighting depression, will tackle mental health issues in her one-woman stage show at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland in August, The Independent reports.

Wax, who recently qualified as a psychotherapist, has developed a half-hour monologue focused on mental health issues.

"I'm doing stuff that's funny about mental illness," she says. "It's a monologue. Humour is the only way to tackle it; otherwise it's po-faced."

In her autobiography, How Do You Want Me?, she discusses her own struggles with depression and a mental breakdown that occurred at the height of her TV career. She says that for many entertainers, performing is a kind of therapy.

Wax also plays in the BBC's Headroom, a two-year program about mental health problems.

"Nobody ever talks about things in this country," says Wax. "There's such a stigma when you're mentally ill, and I think there's more people like that than are into gardening shows, so I'm speaking up for those people. If you have a show-business career, you get away with it – either you have a one-woman show or you're sectioned."