How to Handle Anxiety With Humor

Ahead of his new off-Broadway show, Chris Gethard tackles our questions about navigating the most awkward social situations we can think of.

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Comedian Chris Gethard has built a career on being sad. More specifically, he tells Sweet, "I've built my whole career on going on stage and going on TV, and owning the fact that I'm a sad sack, but then also complaining publicly about the fact that I'm not embraced on a wide level."

On what it takes to produce an Off-Broadway show: "I say, 'Thank you, Judd Apatow.' I just listen to what he says. That goes a long way."

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Gethard's approach to comedy comes from a place of uninhibited earnestness. The comedian has always been open about his own mental health issues—he's struggled with depression, has attempted suicide, and has been in and out of therapy for much of his life. His new off-Broadway show, Chris Gethard: Career Suicide, asks: Why should he hide these things? He writes on his website, "My priority is to be honest to my experience and to make jokes that are as funny as possible, but also if it makes some parents have an easier time dealing with their kid being messed up than my parents had with me I wouldn't mind that either."

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Chris Gethard on how he put together an off-Broadway show (with some help from Judd Apatow), and what career suicide means to him.

In light of Gethard's frank and funny approach to anxiety, sadness, and solitude, Sweet staffers decided to ask him anonymous questions on everything from dating to being awkward at parties to knowing what you want to do in life. These are Gethard's attempts at answering.

1. "How do I overcome my fear of rejection, which keeps me from making an effort at dating or even meeting new people?"

"You just get rejected all the time for shallow reasons like, 'Your forehead is too big. We don't want you in this Hebrew National commercial.'"

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2. "How do I walk into a party without feeling so awkward?

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"Parties are terrible. Talking to people is terrible."

Sweet: "I have a weird ego problem where I think I'm the best person in the world and then also that I am the most worthless, and start to wonder why people like me, and why anyone would ever like me. Is there a name for that? Do you have it? Does everyone have it?"

"To try to hang on to your underdog indie credibility while also craving more mainstream success is a very sad pursuit."

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3. "I envy people who can just move to the woods and be happy, but I also have a strong career drive. How do I get over that?"

"My whole life goal has been to make $2 million so that I can disappear forever and never be heard from again."

4. "How am I supposed to make new friends now that I'm almost 30?"

"Here's a very pragmatic answer: Do you need new friends?"

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Sweet: "I feel like at this point in my career, this job is definitely a dream job. What am I supposed to do now: feel really satisfied? Or is it okay that I still want more?"

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"All your questions about anxiety are giving me anxiety."

5. "If I'm introduced to someone who I have most likely met before, what are some good generic greetings that could be interpreted as both 'Nice to meet you' and 'We met before'?"

"Any time someone tells you their name, a good way to remember it is to imagine them fist-fighting a celebrity who has the same name."

Chris Gethard: Career Suicide runs from October 5 to November 27 at the Lynn Redgrave Theater in New York. For more information, visit

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