Tall by nature but little by name, comedian Gary Little is not afraid of broaching any subject if it makes a positive difference to just one person. Ahead of his upcoming tour, he spoke to Talking Heads reporter Anne Austin about his thoughts on comedy and mental health. Described by Kevin Bridges as ‘some of the best stand up’ he is ever seen, Gary’s new show A Little Bit of Personal is sure to have the crowds laughing, talking and thinking.
Several well known comedians have spoken out about their own mental health experiences. Do you think there’s a connection between comedy and mental health?
There’s a couple of ways to look at this. Stand up brings stress and highs and lows. [First], there’s the stress, then if it goes well the highs, if not then it is the lows and disappointment. The job itself can bring stress and lows. Then again, 1 in 4 people suffer from depression, so there’s probably as many joiners going through it. But when you’re in the limelight, there exists this sad clown stereotype that doesn’t apply to the joiner. I don’t think this stereotype holds any relevancy – so many people suffer regardless of what they do.
How do your experiences of depression and being in prison come through in your comedy?
I talk about depression and being inside – it suits my style and I’m telling the funny stuff, obviously. That’s the good thing about the shit stuff that happens to you. It can be turned into a positive to tell people there’s still hope out there.
Do you believe comedy can play a part in helping people who are experiencing mental health issues?
Definitely, I have had people come up to me after shows and said how much they have appreciated it and said how often they think they’re the only one to have been in a particular situation. When they hear about me and we’re all laughing, it shows that there is hope and a future. I believe more time should be spent talking about mental health and taking the stigma away. I don’t know when the time will come that people can be open about it. The stigma is still there big time.
Are you concerned when doing stand-up about depression that you may cross boundaries and offend some people?
I’ve had people tell me that they have been offended by my shows. When I’ve asked them what offended them, they replied that they didn’t know. I tell stories about depression, my mum dying and being in prison. When people hear certain words they often jump to the offensive conclusion without considering the whole context. I tell my life stories. I am laughing at my experiences and no one else. It is a Scottish thing, perhaps a working class Glaswegian trait that by nature we self-deprecate. Someone will find something funny whereas someone else will find it offensive. What are the boundaries? It is subjective.
Do you believe celebrities talking about their own mental health issues helps?
Anyone talking is good and the big names get it on television. However, I don’t know how much the guy or girl sitting in their house watching Stephen Fry talking about his experience will help. Getting people talking generally is important and with so many folk experiencing depression, you’d think there would be more acceptability. It seems hard for human nature not to judge and hold onto what their own perceptions are.
by Anne Austin
Thu 20 Oct, 8pm
East Kilbride Arts Centre, 51 Old Coach Road, East Kilbride G74 4DU
£10 | 01355 261 000 | SLLCBOXOFFICE.CO.UK
Sat 29 Oct, 8pm
Behind the Wall, 14 Melville Street, Falkirk FK1 1HZ
£10 | 01324 633 338
Mon 31 Oct, 8pm
The Stand, 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, G3 6NG
£10 | 0141 212 3389 | THESTAND.CO.UK