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Comedian Aparna Nancherla Finds Humor in Depression

By making fun of her anxieties onstage as a stand-up comic, Aparna Nancherla is making a difference as she challenges mental health stigmas. 

This week the acclaimed comedian, who has depression, comes to town for Acting Out Cleveland, a four-day arts fest for mental health and addiction awareness. She recently appeared onStudio 360 with Kurt Andersen and Conan with Conan O'Brien.

Nancherla didn't start her comedy career telling jokes about her own mental health issues. 

"I started writing about depression and anxiety just because I was having a creative block," Nancherla said.

She soon realized that her anxious personality was perfect for comic storytelling.  Tales of her life in New York City as a "depressive" not only made people laugh, but also helped others dealing with similar issues.

"For whatever reason comics tend to be hyper-obervant and analytical of the world around them.  Sometimes depression has similar qualities in that you're kind of observing everything hyper-analytically," she said.

Nancherla makes sure to not cross the line between laughing at her depression and demeaning anyone's mental health struggles.

"I think sometimes there's always a risk of people not quite relating to it.  But I've found for the most part people do than don't," she said.

One might think that someone suffering from anxiety might be challenged by the highs and lows of stand-up comedy.  Nancherla's learned it's just part of the job.

"I have learned that even when sets where it doesn't feel like it went great I generally still get something out of it or learn something from it regardless," she said.

Aparna Nancherla performs at Acting Out Cleveland Wednesday, September 13 at Smartspace at West 78 Street Studios at 8:30pm.

Listen to the entire interview:  


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