This is a strange question - hopefully, I can keep it brief without "baring my soul," so to speak...
But can anyone think of specific examples of great art/comedy where the artist in question is really laying it all out there? I'm currently workshopping my first one-woman show and wondering how much information about me is too much for the audience - I've been told that writing a personal screenplay, pilot, song, or play can be therapeutic as long as it doesn't cross the line into actual therapy. But, up until now, that personal stuff is all that I've written. I'm thinking specifically of one of my idols, the playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who left no stone unturned as far as writing out her own personal and professional stories. These were plays that had the power to mend her difficult family relationships if the audience listened closely. Or Jonathan Winters, who is considered the first, groundbreaking stand-up to tell true stories about his own battles with alcoholism and institutionalization. At the same time, if I leave out the important, gory details, I'd feel like I'm doing a disservice to myself, even knowing that there could be repercussions. As my playwrighting mentor/teacher once told me, "Don't let the facts get in the way of the truth."
This is also coming off of a precise flip-side to this argument: My ex is doing a rather "incriminating" (I use quotes because I've never seen it, but heard about it) stand-up routine about me. My crippling panic disorder and need to constantly blame others, among other things. Of course, he never mentions my name, but the parts he was willing to tell me were seriously offensive - and I don't even want to know the parts he doesn't want me to see. We're all guilt-ridden here, I suppose, yet I wonder if there's a right way or a wrong way to tell your story without pissing anyone off - or maybe it's a vital step?
Is there a line between writing what you know and actually living your art?