By Kathy Lynch, Contributor
Local comedian Sarah Miller attended her first group therapy session last night and killed two birds with one stone by trying out new jokes while discussing her issues. After all, group therapy is great for getting patients to realize they’re not alone in their struggles, and even with rising healthcare costs, it’s still cheaper than attending a paid open mic with a two-drink minimum. Sarah hoped that the therapy group would help her manage her anxiety disorder and give her the chance to regale a captive audience with hilarious material.
When it was her turn to explain what was bothering her that week, Sarah told jokes about the complex feelings surrounding her social anxiety and her habit of using self-deprecation to seek validation. She opened with, “Introverts are always worried that people will misunderstand them, and that they’re seen as standoffish or mean. But I have the opposite problem–people think I’m an introvert, but I’m actually just a huge bitch. HEY-O!”
The therapist leading the session smiled and said “Sarah, do you think the harsh judgment you impose on yourself may be creating some of the pain you feel?” Wow, Sarah was not expecting to hear from a heckler. She decided to just ignore her this time because dammit all, she came here to work.
Next, Sarah nodded sympathetically as fellow patient Ryan rambled on and on about his girlfriend problems. Ugh, he even went over his allotted time slot! Finally, Sarah moved onto her own bit about relationships. The audience of group members seemed to have loosened up, so she prepared to go in for the kill.
“Things with my boyfriend Brandon are going OK but he doesn’t give me enough attention. But hey, maybe one of these days we’ll have such good sex that he’ll actually look up from World of Warcraft while we’re doing it, am I right?” The crowd of patients laughed wildly at Sarah’s ridiculous yet relatable portrayal of conflicting interests in relationships. The laughter temporarily satisfied the unhealthy need for validation that she had come to therapy to address.
By the way, Sarah doesn’t actually have a boyfriend—she just pretends to on stage because it serves the premise of her joke. Plus, as a therapy patient, making up silly stories about her unsatisfying love life is less scary than giving an honest description of the relentless fears that plague her existence.
At the end of the night, Sarah couldn’t think of a clever callback to her introvert and relationship jokes, so she closed her set with a classy “thank you” to the venue. “Thanks for coming out tonight, let’s bring it back to your host, Dr. Schaffer LICSW/PhD. Don’t forget to tip your bartender—I mean, show your insurance card to the receptionist before you leave.”
On her way out, Sarah basked in the momentary glow that comes with delivering a well-received joke. After thirty seconds, she went back to feeling inadequate. Sarah considered discussing this painful feeling at next week’s group meeting, but she will most likely just push it deep down inside and work on some material about getting stuck in traffic instead.
Kathy Lynch is a stand up comic and writer from Massachusetts. She has performed in the Women In Comedy Festival and at ImprovBoston. Her most recent comedic accomplishment is headlining a show at a pizzeria.