Dave Anthony

Dave Anthony

The comedian, writer and podcaster talks about being neglected as a child, his self-sabotaging and the out of control anger that almost destroyed his life.  Dave has appeared on The Office, Entourage and in the film Recount.  He has written for The Talking Dead and he co-hosts the podcast Walking the Room.

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Episode notes:

Dave can be followed on Twitter @daveanthony

Click here for the Walking the Room website.

Episode Transcript:

Paul: Welcome to episode 71 with my guest Dave Anthony. I’m Paul Gilmartin. This is The Mental Illness Happy Hour, an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads from medically diagnosed conditions to everyday compulsive, negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical counseling. It is uh; it’s not a doctor’s office. It’s more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn’t suck.

You notice I shortened the intro there, uh, I know a couple of you are probably gonna be—want me to go back to the old intro, but I felt like it was getting a little long and redundant. Um, maybe you can let me know, um, what you think. My email address, um, is mentalpod@gmail.com. And that’s also the Twitter name you can follow me at and mentalpod is also the website. All kinds of good stuff there. There’s a forum and a newsletter you can site up for and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Um, a couple of things I wanted to talk about. The first I want to talk about it, uh, a while back, I guess it would have been about six months ago, I had asked for people to donate so that we could fly a soldier in and, uh, and hear his story, and it is just taking too long to get him so have returned the $395 that, uh, listeners had, uh, donated. Fortunately it was, uh, only about five people that I had to contact that had donated that money. But, um, thank you for donating it but I was just starting to feel uncomfortable that it wasn’t happening and I had this money and I was just starting to feel, um, like I just didn’t want to hold onto it any longer, so.

Um, the other thing that I wanted t-to, uh, to touch on is, obviously, what happened in Colorado this last week. Uh, i-it just fucking amazes me that people are talking about movie theater security like that’s the issue. Like mental illness isn’t the issue. You know, i-it—to me it’s like, you know, there’s a problem that ivy is growing out of control and people are trying to pass laws about fences. And it’s like, no, we have to pay attention to the ivy that is growing out of control. And you hear a lot of people saying, you know, I—my heart goes out to the victims. Well, if you are not for dedicating more money for funding for accessible, affordable mental health care in this country, you don’t really care about the victims. Because right now there are future victims walking around. And there is somebody that is not going to get mental health, uh, the treatment that they need and they’re gonna hurt people. There’s also people th-that—you know it’s possible that th-this guy um, could have gotten all the help in the world and still done this. I’m not, I’m not suggesting that affordable mental health care for all Americans is gonna cure this, but it is going to reduce it. So, if you say that you care about the victims, um, talk to your Congressman or whoever represents you. Let them know how you feel. Um, because th-there’s future victims out there walk—I hate to be, you know, Mr. Fucking Downer, but this is about mental illness and the—you know, somebody else asked me a question, they said, “What do you think about the justice system’s definition of what mental illness is?” Um, you know, I think there’s a difference between what we call mental illness and what the justice system, you know defines as someone being mentally ill, because in the justice system, they just call someone mentally ill, meaning they didn’t know what they were doing, they weren’t responsible for their actions and it kind of pisses me off because the rest of us that live with mental illness who do know what we’re doing, it kind of lumps us all into one barrel and makes the destigmatization (nice word) of mental illness that much more difficult. So I wish that they would come up with some kind of word, um that is more specific about a type of mental illness where somebody is completely delusional. Maybe that’s the phrase – completely delusional. Um, I don’t know, that’s my two cents on, uh, on that whole thing.

Uh, I had some really fun threads going this week on Facebook a-and Twitter. Um, something that I started is a thread called Oddly Comforting because I found when I depressed, and I’ve been in a little bit of a funk lately, um, certain things are really comforting to me. One of them is documentaries. Um, stories of people surviving blizzards, anything about World War I or World War II, documentaries on bands, even ones that I don’t care about, stories about people struggling alone at sea. So I thought maybe other people feel this way too and I had about 100 people chime in with things that they find oddly comforting when they’re experiencing depression and, uh, so I’m just gonna, I’m gonna read these from time to time. And, uh, the one for this week came from Mark Sweetman who says that he finds news stories on riots, revolts and revolutions, uh, to be oddly comforting. And I totally get that.

The uh, the other thing that we started, um, is a, is a survey about, um, trying to describe your Struggle in a Sentence and the one that I liked from, from this week, um, that somebody had written, let’s see what was the person’s name, Tweety Bird, a female, uh, straight female in her 30’s, about her OCD, she writes, “When life feels unbearable, at least I know my baby’s socks are folded the right way.”


Paul: I’m here with, uh, with Dave Anthony. We’ve been talking about getting together and doing this for going on what, fifteen years?

Dave: Something like that, yeah. I mean, we talked about it before you even had a podcast.

Paul: Before we met.

Dave: Before we met, yeah.

Paul: There’s about, uh, a half a dozen people that I keep meaning to have on the podcast and every time I bump into them I, like, do the whole, “Oh! God!” And, uh, I know the fans of your podcast, um Walking the Room, I’m one of them, uh, have—some of them listen to this show also a-and really want to hear you come on, uh, and we’ve joked about it. I was on Walking the Room’s, uh, 100th episode and we joked about what would happen if you and I brought our drunken Irish depression and rage together in the room.

Dave: The anger vortex.

Paul: An anger vortex. That, uh, that it could only end in—I can’t remember what the—what did we call it?

Dave: I can’t remember.

Paul: That one of us would have to jerk off while the other one shot himself in the head and it would be called a double shamrock. I think that’s, I think that’s what it was called.

Dave: Oh, yeah.

Paul: But I, uh, I—first of all I want to plug, not that it needs plugging, but I want to plug your guys’ podcast. It’s called Walking the Room. You host it with, uh, Greg Behrendt. Uh, and it is just the fucking greatest. It is so funny and honest and dark and wrong. And i-it’s like every—I don’t know how would you describe it to somebody th-that’s never heard it before?

Dave: I mean, I would say that we go, like nothing’s out of bounds.

Paul: And you guys are parents, which I love so much, is that you talk, you say the shit that you know parents must think about parenting, but you say it.

Dave: Totally, yeah. I think so. I think when we sat down and we first decided to do it, it was like, “Let’s just be as honest as we can about everything – about what’s going on with our careers, about the kids, about, like, all of it.” So that’s what we go for.

Paul: Like, i-i-in the span of five minutes, you will talk about how much you love your kids and how they did this thing that, you know, warmed your heart and ten minutes later you’ll be talking about laying a jizz bomb on somebody’s back.

Dave: Yeah, pretty much.

Paul: That’s—

Dave: Yeah.

Paul: So th-that’s kinda—but i-it’s so, um …

Dave: But that’s life, I mean, I know that people try not to do that but I remember Greg Geraldo how passed away, a comedian, he was once asked about what—why he is sometimes really dirty or just goes there and it’s like, cuz that’s life. You—that’s what our podcast is – it’s life. Like sometimes I’m super filthy, sometimes I’m, you know, loving and honest or whatever, I’m angry, it goes all over—that’s just what it is. And that’s what I think podcasting is for – it’s to hear something you don’t hear in other places.

Paul: Yeah a-a-a-and hear the dark stuff. And i-i-it’s so nice when you hear somebody else voice a thought that is, um, maybe a little over the line, but you’ve thought it or felt it and you’re like, “Oh my God, that’s so cathartic.” It’s so cathartic. And plus you guys are just so fucking funny and you have a, you have a great chemistry. Uh, Dave is kind of known as the angry curmudgeon on the, uh, on the podcast. You know, um, and you certainly aren’t play-acting.

Dave: No.

Paul: Uh, you’re a pretty angry guy. Uh, is it, is it something that is a constant issue with you? Or is it—talk about your anger.

Dave: I think it was more a constant issue before, like, well I hit 35 and I sort of realized how to deal with it and where it came from and all that, but, but yeah it was completely destructive up until then. Completely destructive.

Paul: Wh-where would be the best place to start? You want to talk about what it was like growing up?

Dave: We can because I think without that you can’t understand the anger. I mean, I grew up with a serious alcoholic father and an Al-Anon mother. My mom was raised by two serious alcoholics. So then she of course married an alcoholic because that’s what you do. So she was shut down as a human being and he was a neglectful alcoholic. So I was literally—when people say they were raised by wolves, like, I was raised by wolves. I was raised by people who weren’t there.

Paul: Just not interested in you at all.

Dave: They just weren’t. They just couldn’t be, it was beyond their capability. Um, and my mom tried as much as she could, but my mom said to me, a few years ago she said, “You disappeared when you were three. I just saw you go inside yourself and you didn’t come out again until your mid-30’s.”

Paul: Really?!

Dave: Yeah, yeah. She literally said she saw it happen where I just kind of vanished inside of myself. And …

Paul: Did you do like a magician flourish?

Dave: (laughs) I threw down a flash pot. A smoke bomb and then when the smoke cleared she—I was just inside of myself.

Paul: It’s so fucking sad though, man, at three.

Dave: At three. I know, when she told me that—because that came about because I had basically had a—I mean, what was basically a breakdown, I think, I don’t know what you classify it as. But when I was in my mid-30’s, and I went back to talk to her and, like, just lay it all on the line and she was like, “You know, this is the first time I’ve seen you come out of yourself since you were three.” And I was like, “What?” And she was like, “Yeah, I just saw you disappear inside yourself.” And she lays a lot of that on my dad, but she also cops that she wasn’t really able to be there.

Paul: She didn’t know how.

Dave: And she still isn’t on a lot of levels. She’s just not—she’s not—they’re not like, loving parents, you know. I just don’t have that and I never will.

Paul: What—are you at peace with that?

Dave: Yeah. Uh, yeah, I’m totally at peace with it. Um you know, I love my mother. And it’s just a, it’s just a—sort of a distant relationship. I mean, she still drives me insane because she’s my mother and, but uh, but she, she’s there and I can talk to her about stuff but she’s really just sorta has a narrow path that she walks in. And she can’t deviate from it, conversationally she can’t deviate from it, like it’s just—she wants to talk about things that are bad or wrong or things that aren’t going well and there’s just not a lot …

Paul: She does or does not?

Dave: She does. Th-that’s all it is.

Paul: Oh, so she’s pretty negative?

Dave: Yeah, yeah, very negative.

Paul: Yeah, my mom will do that sometimes. She will—there’s—like, a switch will flip and she will just go on these angry monologues where I can put the phone down and cook an entire meal.

Dave: Totally, a-and for me they’re monologues I’ve heard before.

Paul: Mmm-hmmm

Dave: And I’m like, ok, here we go, this one’s kicking off. Yeah, and then she wants me, she want to know what’s wrong in my—like, all the questions are always like, “Oh, so how’s that going? Is that going ok?” Hoping it will be like, “Oh, it’s not, it’s not working out.” “Oh see, yeah, I get that.” Like that’s when she relates. So like that’s how I grew up relating, yep.

Paul: So negativity was kind of like currency.

Dave: Yeah, totally.

Paul: You were rich.

Dave: (laughs) I was loaded, man.

Paul: Uh, so wh-what kind of seminal moments stick out in your, in your mind from childhood, adolescence, that kind of ….?

Dave: There were, you know, there were—so my dad was a really big drunk and my parents got divorced when I was, uh—

Paul: Did he ever win any awards?

Dave: Did he win awards? For being a drunk?

Paul: For being a really big drunk?

Dave: Yeah. Actually.

Paul: He just never showed up to collect ‘em?

Dave: (laughs) He’s a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West so, yeah, he would occasionally win awards for, like, ….

Paul: I don’t know what that is.

Dave: That’s like a, it’s like a thing of the Elks Lodge, for Californians. And so he would win President of the Lodge and that just meant he really knew how to party.

Paul: Yeah. Was he a vet?

Dave: No, not a fat guy? No, he, like, exercised and stuff.

Paul: No, no, was he a vet?

Dave: No he wasn’t fat. (laughs) No, he wasn’t a vet, no. He was an attorney.

Paul: No, I meant a veteran.

Dave: No, I know.

Paul: Oh, ok.

Dave: I was saying he’s an attorney, so sort of the same thing. No those guys aren’t vets, if you’re asking if the Native Sons of the Golden West guys are vets?

Paul: Yeah, for some reason I thought Elks Lodge might have been, uh, military veterans.

Dave: Oh, I see what you’re saying. No, uh, literally to get into the Native Sons of the Golden West, you just have to be born in California.

Paul: Oh, ok.

Dave: And then you go to the lodge and you drink. It’s pretty great.

Paul: Yeah.

Dave: Um, so, yeah. So moments that stand out are, like, uh, so my parents got divorced when I was in, uh, second or third grade, and then, uh, then I would go see him on Sundays, and that was always like—so he had a—then he remarried to a woman who was also an alcoholic, and this was one of the biggest things—is every Sunday we’d go—I’d got to his house. She would take a bath in the middle of the day, bombed out of her mind, and then sit in the tub and scream about how horrible me and my sister were. To herself. “Fucking little brats! Spoiled little fucking cock-sucking pieces of shit!” Like that’s what it would be—for like an hour. And he would never go in and tell her to shut up.

Paul: Are you shitting me?

Dave: I swear to God. He would just sit there and act like it wasn’t happening and I would just be like, “Well this is odd.” (laughs)

Paul: Oh my God.

Dave: So what you take away from that is that, oh, no one is protecting me at all. I’m on my own. He never let me win a game of anything my entire life. Checkers, basketball, whatever it was, I never beat him. That’s fucked up for a kid’s self-esteem, like you gotta given him one. Uh, he would drive—he would pick us up, he would drive to a bar and say, “I gotta go in and cash a check at Matucci’s (sp?).” And he would give us a couple of dollars to go to the Taco Bell next door, and then he would go in there for like four hours.

Paul: A-and you would just sit at the Taco Bell?

Dave: We’d sit in the car. For like four hours.

Paul: Oh my God, the rage you must have felt.

Dave: Well, yeah, and so when people are like, “Oh my God, you’re so angry,” or what—like, trust me, it’s all for a reason. It all exists for a reason. I had a terrible father, like, beyond, unbelievably bad.

Paul: I remember one time, uh, this guy, I was like 14, and, you know, you’re trying to get money for weed, and this guy was like—I don’t even know how I met this guy—he was like, 35, and we was like, “Yeah, I need to clean out a storage shed. I’ll pay ya a couple dollars to come help me.” So I helped this guy clean out his storage shed and on the way home, he stops at a, at a bar and said, “I just gotta go in and talk to somebody.” And I’m sitting in the car and I’m not kidding you, I-I-I—after like 25, 30 minutes, I began to feel such rage I felt like wanted—there was like a ball of tears in my throat. I can’t imagine what it would be like for that to happen time and time and time and time again. From your fucking father!

Dave: A-and the thing is, is like, yeah, i-it goes from you being angry at the moment to just being angry all the time. Like eventually it just transitions into you’re just angry, that’s what you are that’s your, that’s your state, you’re natural state, that becomes anger. Yeah so it was—it went—and I still—and I-I talked to my sister about it, because my sister would be there too, it would be the two of us, just sitting there. She was two years older and she was like, “I don’t know why I ever didn’t just get out of the car and walk home.” And it would have been a two-mile walk. And she’s like, “I could have easily walked home, and then he would have come out of the bar and been like, ‘Where are my kids?’ Well, they’re home. They walked two miles home while you were in the bar.” Like that would have—you know what, that would have had absolutely no repercussions. Like, he would have been mad at us or something, but it would have been a nice thing to do. For our self-esteem.

Paul: Is he still drinking?

Dave: Yep. Yep. That’s never gonna stop. He’s uh—I’ve tried to talk to him about it—well there’s a couple talks I had, I, um, when I had my, like, breakdown thing I went out to lunch with him and I hadn’t talked to him in three years because when I was living in New York, I was just (inaudible) in New York, I decided to not call him and wait for him to call me. But I just made a decision one day.

Paul: Let’s see how long it takes for him to notice.

Dave: Right - I was at home and, uh, my beeper went off. That’s when we had beepers. My beeper went off and, uh, and it was my dad, and I was like—and I called him and I go, “Why’d you beep me?” “Well, I tried you at home.” “You didn’t try me at home. I’m sitting at home right now.” He just didn’t want to pay the long-distance call.

Paul: Oh my God.

Dave: So I thought—then next—then I hung up the phone and I thought, “I’m gonna wait until he calls me.” Three years. And not, not like three quiet years, three years of my grandmother calling me going, “How come you won’t talk to your father?” And me going, “I will. He just has to call me.” Like, three years. So then finally after three years, after I went through all my stuff, I called him up and I just, “Let’s have dinner, or lunch,” or whatever it was. And then we sat down and he talked about his alcoholism, and he said, “You know I have”—his quote was, “I have a monster living inside of me.”

Paul: Wow.

Dave: Yeah. And when you hear that, you’re like, okay, well that’s a little bit different than what I have but apparently that’s a—my wife, who’s a psychologist, uh, says that is a common thing that you will hear. I have a monster living inside me.

Paul: I-I relate to that.

Dave: I do too.

Paul: I’m an addict and an alcoholic.

Dave: Yeah.

Paul: Yes, that’s a great way to put it. But, having your father tell you that …

Dave: Oh yeah.

Paul: Is what I was “wow”ing.

Dave: Yeah, it’s crazy, it’s crazy. So I went to, uh, I went to support groups and I like worked through it all a-and heard a lot of stories that I related to, that kind of stuff, you know. And, um, a-and then I went on a podcast, one of Marc Maron’s podcasts and I talked a lot about my dad and he listened to it. And then I got an email from him. This is the other thing, like, he doesn’t know how to communicate, like he doesn’t know how to call, he doesn’t know how to talk, so in the email—he had stomach cancer and I found out from an email. The email was literally, “Hey, Dave, I have stomach cancer, I’m having a lot of my stomach removed tomorrow in the hospital, love Dad.” Like that was the—that’s how I found out my dad had cancer. So, uh, so he wasn’t good at communicating. So after I did the Marc Maron show, and I talked about him a lot, um, he, he contacted me and just said, “I heard a lot of interesting stuff.” And I was like, ok, does that mean he heard it or does that mean he just heard it?

Paul: And how does he feel about what he heard?

Dave: Right. So, uh, I called him and we talked and then this was on—this was on the first couple episodes of my podcast, because that’s right when start ours, one and two, so I think it’s covered in there. So, we talk a-and it was, it was one of those conversations where you want to, like, what you want to hear is, “I’m sorry. I blew it. I was in a bad place. I wasn’t a good dad.” That kind of thing. So when you—so when I would say, “Hey, you weren’t”—I said, “Hey, you weren’t there for me, uh, I didn’t get what I needed from you. In my opinion that was because of how much you drank.” That kind of stuff. And his response was, “Ha! Yeah.” Like, so, so there are, there are so many different responses in your head you think can come, defensive or this or that, but it was so just like, “Uh, yeah.” So, like weirdly matter-of-fact that it was just like, that was so bizarre that it was cathartic in that he just isn’t there. There’s just nothing there.

Paul: Well plus, you know, too, if—the thing you have to understand about alcoholism, you may know this already, but, people become emotionally frozen at the age that they begin escaping into whatever their addiction is. So even though you are talking to a guy who’s in his 60’s or 70’s, you are really talking to probably an eight- or a ten-year-old, trying to have an emotional conversation.

Dave: Yeah, and that’s, that’s exactly how it feels, like it’s just not, it’s not happening, it’s not there, it’s not in him. Uh, so, you know, for me it was a good thing. It was bizarre a-and thank God I had, you know, gone through support groups and therapy and whatever else because it just didn’t, like, it just didn’t have the effect it would have ten years before. It would have just devastated me or I would have just been more enraged.

Paul: You still would have been trying to get some juice from that rock.

Dave: Yeah, yeah, and there’s no juice coming from that rock, it’s a rock.

Paul: There isn’t.

Dave: So, uh, and now I’m at the point where I don’t even talk to him anymore because, like, last Christmas, yeah, we’re done—I’m kinda done with it because last Christmas I went up to—he’s now turned really angry and very political and the opposite of my political beliefs—and so we went up and he just came into my sister’s house on Christmas and just launched into me, like it was just insane. And it was all really just conspiracy, not tethered in reality stuff. And my sister watched it and she just said, “Yeah, you guys don’t have a relationship at all.” And I was like, “Yeah, I don’t.” And so I’m just done. I mean, it’s sad that I have a kid now and that’s, that’s what—the choice I have to make, but it just is.

Paul: That’s so awesome, though, that you can accept that a-and not try to get into the insanity of thinking you can control it and make it something other than what it is. You’ve done all that you can, you’ve expressed your feelings to him. You’ve given him a chance to try to change. And you’ve realized …

Dave: Well, I’ve handled it from every different angle; I’ve ignored him, I’ve expressed nothing but rage towards him, I’ve done self-destructive things to myself, I’ve tried to be kind, I’ve tried to be loving, like it’s all out there.

Paul: What are some of the self-destructive things?

Dave: My whole career, up until I was 35. Everything. I, I’ve—I sabotaged myself—I would say from the time I was 12 to never succeed at anything because he wanted me to succeed so that he could go to the bar and brag.

Paul: Really?!

Dave: Yeah! Yeah. Cuz I would hear—like if I did standup on a TV show, he would never say, “Hey, good job,” or “It was great I watched it.” I would just hear that your dad showed me your standup tape, like I would hear from other people, and it’s like, so you’re using me as a thing to brag to other people, but you don’t say it to me. So then I started sabotaging my own career to stop him from feeling any joy. (laughs)

Paul: That is in the dictionary under “biting off your nose to spite your face.”

Dave: Oh my God, yeah.

Paul: Wow.

Dave: I mean, who knows how far it would have gone if I didn’t, you know, get my shit together. And it’s still something I fight through. You know, I just always have to fight to stop myself from …

Paul: I-I need some highlights of this self-sabotage, destruction, cuz, uh …

Dave: I can tell you when it started. I know I—the biggest event in my childhood was, I was on a baseball team and he was the coach and we had some sort of disagreement and he wouldn’t take me out of the game so I stood at the plate and I didn’t move the bat off my shoulder and it was strike one, and it was the ninth inning, you know, like top of the inning, then strike two, strike three, and then I turned around to the opposing team’s, uh, bleachers and raised the bat above my head and said, “Yeah!” That kind of shit. Like that was just—and then you get into standup and I-I-I was the guy who would get into arguments with people and turn my back on people—take the club owner of Cobb’s, who really wanted me to succeed. Now he was nuts. But he really wanted me to succeed and had really high hopes for me.

Paul: Cobb’s is a very prestigious, uh, comedy club in San Francisco.

Dave: Yeah, and so what I should have done was gone in and done my work and tried to improve myself, and better myself and use that stage time he was giving me to just work on my standup. But what I did was embroil myself in some weird relationship with him where we would drink and get in fights and scream at each other all the time and then I would purposefully do what he didn’t want me to do on stage. He used to hate that I would gather my thoughts by looking up at the ceiling. And one time he put a sign up on the ceiling that said, “Why are you looking up here, Dave?” And then I just proceeded to stare up at the ceiling all the time. Like that’s the kind of shit I would do. It wasn’t like huge sabotage, but that’s enough to make a guy go, “I’m gonna book you anymore. Because you’re doing exactly what I told you not to do.” So that’s exactly the kind of stuff I would do over and over and over again. And, like, I—when I was in New York I was with an agency and I fired my agency. At 3:00AM by email. Like, just stuff like that. You just don’t do that. (laughs) I seriously set my career back and I just—I could’ve been—that’s my biggest regret in life, is just th-the fact that I fucked up but I get that I can. I guess they were beyond my control at that point, I was just a train out of control, but it is my biggest regret, is all the opportunities that I had that I just blew. Just blew. Repeatedly.

Also because I was super judgmental. About everything, you know. So I would set stuff up to be like well I’m not going to do that. Like an example is Bob Odenkirk and his wife came out to New York and Bob took me out to—we went out and we like, ate, and he’s like, “I want you to write for this show I’m doing, I want you to submit stuff. I want you to—you’re really funny. I love your stuff, I’ve always liked your stuff. I want you to submit for my show.” And I was like, fuck that, I’m not going to do some stupid sketch show. I don’t wanna be involved in that shit.

Paul: Mr. Show?

Dave: Yeah, like, that’s the kind of stuff that my career is just littered with. And later he hired me on a show after Mr. Show to write on a pilot that didn’t get picked up but it was like too little too late, you know. But that’s it, that’s like the epitome of my career.

Paul: Do you think it’s possible though that all of that, and maybe this is just me, you know, Mr. Silver Lining, but do you think it’s possible that all of those experiences have been necessary to inform this part of your life that—

Dave: Yes, without a doubt. Um, it’s made me a better person. I think if I had had success early I would be worse person. I mean, you know, cuz …

Paul: I agree. I think if you had had success with that rage—

Dave: I’d be a monster.

Paul: An absolute monster.

Dave: A-and we know those people. We know those people who got success and are monsters. Like they’re—Hollywood is littered with them. That’s just not a fun way to live. And they think that by getting success—which I did, I thought that by getting fame and success, that was gonna be the thing. And then as you get older, you go, “That’s nothing. That’s not the thing. That’s not the thing at all.”

Paul: I-it’s just a different set of pressures and then you feel, because you have so many different things going on, so many fires, you begin just having more people to blame for the anxiety and the fear and the unfulfilled sick fantasies you have in your head, so you just begin—a-and people in this town don’t call you on it because they think they might need you later if you continue to be more successful, so enable you.

Dave: Totally! And people are making money off of you – so they’re making 10% or whatever it is, so they don’t—

Paul: They’re not gonna tell you you’re a fucking monster.

Dave: Not at all, they’re not gonna say anything about it. I don’t—it, um—I can’t even imagine what I would have been. Like I think I would have been the worst of the worst. Just …

Paul: I have to agree.

Dave: (laughs) Yeah, I mean it’s like. Let me just say this – I didn’t have—and people can’t understand this, I mean, the number of people that can understand this is very few in the world. I didn’t have a feeling until I was 33. I was all anger. I was different levels of anger. And then after I started going to therapy and support groups and all that, I, like all of the sudden started having feelings as a human being, like, “Oh this is happiness.” Like it was just crazy.

Paul: C-can you talk about what that process was like and what you remember thinking and feeling?

Dave: I remember the first thing I remember—you the first feeling I felt after coming out of whatever—I mean, it was a, it was a profound depression that I was in, which manifested just in pure rage, so …

Paul: Let’s remember to talk about the meltdown before we’re over. I don’t want to skip over that.

Dave: Yeah, sure.

Paul: Or should we talk about that before we talk about the therapy? Wh-which order do you want to go in?

Dave: We can talk about it because it came—well, the meltdown came after a-all this. The meltdown came after I started work—I mean, you know, that happens a lot. You start working on yourself and then you go, “Holy shit,” and you start feeling feelings and you go, “Holy shit.”

Paul: Yeah

Dave: This is awful.

Paul: No wonder I escaped.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, so this is before. So we can talk about it, uh, this way. So, I was in a relationship, bad relationship, and it ended and it was, uh, six or seven years ago. We moved out from New York together. Living together. She went back to New York. I was trying to work more through it and I started going to support groups, and, uh, therapy, and, uh, and then I started feeling feelings. It was, uh, it was just writing stuff down and it was just listening to other people’s stories and going, “Oh, I get that, I get that,” and sort of being in a safe place where you—basically, you go to a support group, it’s like creating a family that you didn’t have.

Paul: Exactly.

Dave: And that’s wh-what you’re looking for. You can find the father figures, the brothers, the sisters, that’s who my—

Paul: It’s amazing.

Dave: That’s who my family is there, I mean, besides my sister, and her kids, my family really—they’re my friends. Uh, so it’s easier to have all those feelings that you never had because people are actually being there in the way that your parents should have been there for you. Uh, and then the anger starts to recede a little bit and then when the anger goes away, then there’s feelings. And I remember the first feeling I had was sadness. And I was overjoyed. Because I’d never felt a feeling before. And it’s so, it’s so—that’s the sad thing, is that—to me, the saddest thing of all of it, is that—a-and I don’t know what age that was—that like you said, you get—you stop at a certain age. That might have been me being three again. Which is really fucked up that I just missed all those years. So, like, who knows my feelings—I stopped feeling my feelings as a kid, but that’s just so sad that that’s—33 is when I started going, “Oh, sadness, this is cool.” Like I remember being sad and being, “This is awesome that I’m sad.”

Paul: And I, and I don’t imagine that you would’ve been able to see that as a positive thing unless you had been through therapy and support groups.

Dave: Correct. I would have been totally mortified and terrified by it (indistinct).

Paul: Humiliated, think this is a wrong feeling.

Dave: Yeah, yeah, um. So I went through that—I didn’t, I didn’t date anyone for two years, uh, because I just wasn’t capable, I was like, I can’t even—I was like, “I gotta fix myself before I go near anybody else.” And then I met someone through the support groups and fell pretty hard. She was in the process of getting a divorce and she couldn’t deal with being in a relationship so she bailed. And then I just lost it. Just totally fell apart, like couldn’t, couldn’t function. I couldn’t—literally could not function as a person. Uh, I remember after a month I was sitting on my couch and I had two cats and just, I looked at the—I looked around and I was like, there’s like a layer of cat hair in my entire—like covering my entire apartment, there’s a layer of cat hair. It’s like I haven’t cleaned or done anything in a month. A really funny thing—I felt like I couldn’t—like everything I wanted to hold onto was just slipping away, like my career falling apart, I had no money, I couldn’t clean, like it was just insane. I remember I sat down on the couch and my pants ripped up the back, and I was like, “Fuck! I can’t even have pants!” Like it was just so, like, everything has to go to start again. And that for me was like the thing, like, ok, no pants, no nothing. Everything has to go, like I have to completely start over again. So I did, I just—I started going to even more support groups, and doing more therapy. I started reading a lot of Buddhist literature, which really helped me, just for being, like, for me it just helped me go like, this is just—“it is what it is” is a saying that people despise but for me it means a lot. It’s just what it is. This is, this is what—the path I was given. If I fight against it, or feel, oh, poor me, or fucking, oh I’m angry about—it just is, I just had a shitty start. So that’s just what it is, so I—that’s how I feel about my life now, is like, it’s just my path, and, like, and I can’t fret over the shit that happened cuz it’s like, what’s the point, then you’re just fighting with yourself. You know, that’s all anger is, you’re just fighting with yourself.

Paul: And it’s not in reality.

Dave: And it comes out against other people, but you’re hurting yourself far more than anybody else. So I got my shit together. I remember I stopped—like I moved into a new apartment, I didn’t set up the—I had no television, like I just went really minimal, and, um, and it was basic stuff like clean, do the dishes, like take care of your basic shit. I had to just reform myself as a person and then, uh, and then that girl came back.

Paul: Really?

Dave: Yeah. Now she’s my wife.

Paul: No way!

Dave: Yeah. The one who broke, broke my heart and sent me into all that, that tailspin came back and she was like, wow, look at you, you’re different and better. And she’d gone through her own process.

Paul: You have less cat hair on you.

Dave: I had less cat hair on me and it was like, you know, I was a completely different person at that point that she—than just six months before. And if she hadn’t done that—if she hadn’t broken up with me, I would’ve never gone through that shit that I went through and I would probably still be in that weird state of like half, half fixed. Even Greg, like, I had stopped talking to my podcasting partner Greg in that time—and I’m not sure when in this span it is, but I went back to him and apologized for all the shit that I had done, and, you know, a lot of it was on me.

Paul: You know th-th-the thing that strikes me about is that what you hear over and over and over again with the people that go to support groups, try to broaden their perspective by, you know, getting into some type of spirituality, going to therapy, all of those things to get different points of view, is that they begin to see that there is, that the universe kind of forces you sometimes to go to the gym for your soul. And you hate it at the time, but after doing some work, you’re like, “This is awesome that I have had to develop these tools to survive. Now I’m better than normal because I can take these tools and these experiences and when new shit hits me, I’m fucking equipped.”

Dave: Yep, yeah, for the most part I’m equipped. You know, here and there, obviously.

Paul: Yeah, i-it’s certainly, it’s certainly not like you’re never gonna make mistakes. Th-that’s certainly the fantasy, is to think w-we’re not gonna fuck up, we’re not gonna get angry, we’re not gonna disappoint people. But it’s so much better than ….

Dave: Yeah, I think the biggest thing for me, which I haven’t touched on at all was being a victim. Like I, because of the way I was raised, I was just a victim, victim, victim.

Paul: That’s the easiest thing in the world with your story, of course, to be stuck in that place.

Dave: And then you set up situations where you fuck something up and then somebody gets mad at you and then you’re the victim. Like, that’s just the classic victim thing to do. And I remember—so when I was going through all this, I remember I was at the gym and I like went through a thing where I like worked out all the time and like lost 20 pounds and was like skinny as shit and like I went through that whole like classic thing. And I remember I was at the gym and I was running—I was on the, uh, uh, what do you call it?

Paul: Treadmill.

Dave: Treadmill, I’m running. And I’m thinking, uh, you know, I’d really love to go to a place like Nepal or something—and just cuz, like I’ve always loved being out in nature, just like go backpacking or something. It’d be just so fantastic to just like experience a place like that. And then I was thinking, I thought, and then I’d probably be kidnapped. And then these guys would hold me hostage, then no one would want to pay the ransom and they’d probably kill me. And so—and then I was like, “What the fuck is wrong with me? Like I can’t even have a-a decent, like fantasy about something!” And that was the last time I ever—like literally my brain just went, “No more victim shit, dude.” Like literally that moment I went—I turned it off.

Paul: Wow.

Dave: I don’t think I’ve had that mentality since. But I literally turned it off.

Paul: Wow. Do you, do you still, uh, do you consider yourself to be a Buddhist?

Dave: No, I don’t practice enough, but I—the things that I believe in—like I’m, I’m always gonna eat meat, you know, but there’s—the philosophy is amazing and I do—that I follow. Uh, I believe—that’s why—you had me write down fears before I came over here, I don’t have a lot because the one thing I learned from that—and that was the whole process of me going through all that shit, was walking into the fear. Am I afraid of it? Step into it. Just do it. Step into it. So my fears mostly now are about my son. Or other things. But I don’t have like fears of like these big things anymore because it like whatever it is, I’ll just walk into it.

Paul: So if you have a fear of getting AIDS, just get out there?

Dave: Just get out and fuck.

Paul: Fool around?

Dave: I can’t tell you how many like homeless dudes down on Skid Row that I’ve just gone and fucked. Just to get AIDS. That was beautiful.

Paul: (laughs) I, I, um …

Dave: That’s a little bit of Walking the Room right there.

Paul: That was a little taste of Walking the Room. I don’t know much, uh, about Buddhism, but I have memorized all of Patrick Swayze’s lines from Point Break.

Dave: So you know!

Paul: Yeah.

Dave: That’s really the ultimate Buddhist manual.

Paul: I-I-I have the gist of it. I know that, I know that cars are metal coffins.

Dave: Right? See there you go.

Paul: Um, so where would be th-the next place to go to in, uh, in your story?

Dave: Well, I don’t know, I mean now i-it’s a—I’m in a weird place now because …

Paul: Have we gotten all th-the sabotaging highlights?

Dave: I think so, I mean the crazy thing is the sabotaging—I mean, there were times like, like back then when in those early days in comedy, the Montreal Comedy Festival is an enormous thing. So they—like I always get a little bit of heat in New York, when I was doing standup there and I had a big audition for the Montreal Comedy Festival, so I slept through it. Like stuff like that.

Paul: Purposely?

Dave: I literally went to bed at 4PM and took a sleeping pill. And I had a set at 8:00 for the Montreal Comedy Festival. I woke up at like 9:30. Like shit like that I did over and over and over. This is something that my manager stopped me from doing: so there were two comedy clubs, like the bigger ones when I was there were The Comic Strip and New York New York, and they would all put their own—they managed comics also so they would put their comics on the really good spots. And then they started swapping comics so, “I’ll put your comics on, you put my comics on,” so all of the sudden there was no time for anybody else. And I was so enraged by it that I contacted the New York Times and then I sat down and had—

Paul: And you were benefitting from this right?

Dave: I wasn’t benefitting from it but I was also doing just fine. I was getting enough stage time, like it—but it was the injustice that I—I just couldn’t accept—that’s my big thing, cuz it came from my father, right? Injustice, it’s gotta all be set right, like just insane.

Paul: Did they make you wait at Taco Bell while you were, uh, waiting to go on?

Dave: (laughs) If you ever see me sitting at Taco Bell, eating and crying, you’ll understand. So, uh, so I actually contacted the New York Times and sat down with a writer. And he was like, “So the story I’m gonna pitch to my editors, it will start with you and then it will build all the way up to the fact that now management companies are producing and like how it’s crossed over all of show business. And my manager got wind of it, he’s like, ‘Are you out of your fucking mind? Your whole career will be over. You’re literally talking about something that starts small and goes all the way to the top of show business.’” I was like, “So fucking hat?” And then he killed the story.

Paul: Wow.

Dave: But that’s the kind of stuff I did. Like just because I wanted to right a tiny wrong.

Paul: Do you find yourself still wanting to sabotage things today?

Dave: Hmmmm… No. No I don’t, no. I mean, if I’m on a job I don’t like, I might still have to control myself from like saying, “This is bullshit,” and walking out. But like no, stuff that’s like, stuff that I want to do, stuff that I’m working towards. The only way that I sabotage myself now might be from being a little lazy. But I also think that’s from getting older. Like I’d rather sit around the house than go out, you know, to the clubs.

Paul: I got a, uh, an email from a listener kind of chastising me for calling myself lazy, uh, an episode or two ago and it really kind of opened my eyes that, that it’s, it’s like one of the worst things that you can say about yourself because sometimes y-you need to chill out or you need to just be.

Dave: Yeah. That’s not what I do. (laughs) I know what you mean but I-I could work harder.

Paul: Yeah?

Dave: I could definitely work harder, yeah, yeah.

Paul: I’ll email that guy back.

Dave: (laughs) I know what you mean but, you know, I don’t, I don’t put a lot of—like if I want to write for a day, four hours is how much I’m gonna do it. And if I wanna write standup, an hour, you what I mean, because I think beyond that I’m not being as productive. So it’s not like I give myself huge, like workloads.

Paul: You just made me feel so incredibly lazy.

Dave: (laughs) Well, ok, so Wil Anderson is this comedian from Australia, and he is maybe their most popular comedian, and I’ve become friends with him because of the podcasts.

Paul: A-and your podcast is huge in Australia.

Dave: Yeah, it’s really big, it’s kinda crazy, cuz of him, like, really, cuz he has a podcast called TOFOP, and I went down to Australia, we did our—we did ours at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and I happened to go on a podcast that he and a friend—and his friend does, and it’s about the process of writing standup. And started to tell me about how they write, and I was like, “What? What? You guys don’t just think up an idea then go on stage and fuck around with it?” And he’s like, “No, I’m a standup comedian. I write every day. I sit down and I make myself write.” And I was like, “What?” And then I was like, “Fuck, I am way too old to not have—if this is what I want to do, just do it.” So I’ve been writing every day and I don’t know what’s coming of it cuz I haven’t actually gone out and hit the clubs like full force yet, which I’m gonna do soon, but, uh, yeah, I’m trying to write every day. I’m trying to write bits. I’m trying to sit down and just write. And if nothing comes of it, then it’s—then you’re just writing thoughts and you’re just—and that’s like therapy, in a way. Just getting the stuff out there on the paper.

Paul: And you feel like you’re moving forward.

Dave: Yeah.

Paul: That’s it. That’s the important thing, I think, is that you’re not just sitting there going, “I’m not doing ….”

Dave: I’m so much happier if I just write for an hour, if I’m just creative in some way. I have always been that way. If I hang pictures on a wall, I’m happier than if I just sit around and watch TV. You know what I mean? Doing. The act of doing.

Paul: Yeah. And then you can enjoy watching TV.

Dave: Yes, yeah, you can.

Paul: I hung a picture.

Dave: Yeah then you don’t feel, you don’t feel bummed because you’re watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, well you should always feel bummed …

Paul: That picture over there of the Blackhawks, uh, Stanley Cup, uh, picture?

Dave: Yeah.

Paul: Sat on the floor underneath it until the anniversary of them winning the Stanley Cup because I couldn’t get up for—the energy.

Dave: I have four pictures sitting—they’ve been there—my wife got them framed for me I would say in January. And they’re Walking the Room posters of our live shows and they’ve just been sitting on the floor for four months. And I actually bought, I bought hangers recently. I went out and bought the little—and I haven’t (tap tap) into the wall yet.

Paul: Wait until the anniversary. It’ll feel more special. I know from experience. You get a little tear. A little tear rolling down your face.

Dave: (laughs) Yeah, it’ll be nice.

Paul: We are, we are brothers of different mothers, you and I. Although I think your—certainly your story is, uh, more, um, extreme.

Dave: Yeah, I have a pretty extreme, uh, upbringing. I’ve learned, I’ve learned that I’m—I mean I wasn’t beaten and I wasn’t—well I was beaten, I was just (laughs). I used to get hit with a strap. Uh, but, uh, but I wasn’t like punched, and like—well I got punched once—uh, but I wasn’t, I wasn’t like a kid that was like broken bones and like, you know. I was mostly neglected and so I had this thing. So I had it really bad. I had it, I had it worse than a lot, there’s others that had a lot worse. So, you know.

Paul: The thing that I always kind of like to stress on this show is: don’t—where your story fits on the curve of pain and neglect is not important. What is important is the feelings that you feel and the need to go just go ahead and process them and talk about them. That’s the, that’s the important thing.

Dave: Sure.

Paul: Cuz you’re not, you’re not playing detective to try to come up some blame so that you can go and blame somebody and that’s gonna give you the catharsis that’s gonna make life OK. That’s not how it happens. Actually, ultimately you’re gonna wanna be able to forgive that person, you know, to be able t-to move on. But the processing of the feelings, feeling that sadness that you had stuffed down when you were three years old, that’s, that is what is important and a lot of people can never get beyond the, “Well, I didn’t get fucked, I didn’t get beaten so I just need to suck it up and not feel sorry for myself,” and you stay stuck.

Dave: Totally. There’s also people, artists, who think they need to stay broken.

Paul: Yeah.

Dave: Those are the people I feel really the most sorry for because you—I don’t think you can really become the artist you can be until you fix yourself, you know.

Paul: Yeah. You’re—the amount of—oh, this is gonna sound so pretentious, but the palette is so limited as an artist if you never forgive people and you never understand that other half of life that involves acceptance.

Dave: Yeah. Totally. The only—the really—the big wish is that I could talk about my father on stage, but I can’t because people get so horrified. Like the audience is just like, “What?”

Paul: Why is he laughing?

Dave: Right, like I worked it out and I want to get to a place where I can talk about it but I can’t because they are just like, “That’s insane!” Yeah. So, he’ll remain out of the act.

Paul: Well, if, if we ever do a live, uh, show of this …

Dave: How would that go?

Paul: I don’t know. I want to do it and I don’t know. I-I get some feedback from people but I can tell you this – my audience would laugh.

Dave: Your audience would laugh. Here’s the thing I would say about it though, is that it’s very hard, because you’re talking about getting performers and when they’re on stage let’s face it we all become something else.

Paul: Yeah.

Dave: And we put on a little bit of a show. So to find someone to sit there and be honest would be a challenge.

Paul: I think it would have to be people that this wasn’t their first time on the show.

Dave: Sure.

Paul: So that they—their darkness has already kind of been out there and now we’re kind of at the stage where we can laugh about it. Or maybe the live show would be playing some kind of game, you know like we do the fear-off, maybe some type of thing like that so it’s not—you’re not sitting there bringing up some awful memory, um, and other people are hearing it for the, for the first time. Cuz yeah that’s, that’s kind of a hard, that’s kind of a hard thing.

Dave: That would be kind of weird. (laughs) Come on down to the cry-off! Have you, have you ever thought about, cuz you’re fucked up that you wanted to do this podcast, you get that, right?

Paul: Yeah.

Dave: Have you ever, have you explored that, cuz my wife is a psychologist and I think they’re—they’re out of their fucking minds. Cuz they want to sit there and hear people that are just going through the worst shit ever. Have you thought about the fact that—why you want to do this podcast?

Paul: Yeah, there’s two reasons, um, and I get this every time I get interviewed about it, people are like, “What made you want to start doing this?” And there’s two things: 1) I had gained a perspective about depression and darkness and addiction and how that can present itself as reality, and how I believed that for years and I was able to see it for the monster in camouflage that it really is, that it’s not reality. I felt like I need to let other people know how this monster camouflages itself. And the other thing is—

Dave: It does camouflage itself.

Paul: It does. It’s a fucking shape-shifting motherfucker. Uh, I think the Dalai Lama said that. But the other reason is that it makes me feel less alone. When I have a conversation like I’m having with you right now, I can be fully present, I don’t question where I am in my life. I feel of use, I feel, um, I feel like I’m part of a family. And so I do it half selfishly, half like I want other people to know that they’re, that they’re not alone. But it doesn’t—I get energized by the darkness if there’s a perspective to it. If there’s a light. Just even if it’s a little pin light. Like, we had—Mike Carano was a guest a couple of episodes ago who was in a very tough place. Who was, um, just on the verge of—is ready to go get help, and that to me is, even though he’s not gaining perspective yet, th-th-that hope is just a little pin light for him right there, that’s enough. That’s enough of a, of a light for it not to be a sad situation. Um, or to feel exploitive.

Dave: I feel that. I remember that. I remember that pin light. Someone being like, “You should go here just once and check it out.” And being, “Oh well, yeah, that might be a thing.”

Paul: Yeah. If this show was just me interviewing people that did not want to get help and were like, “Fuck that,” I would, I would be despondent.

Dave: Yeah. That would be horrible.

Paul: So that’s—I-I don’t know if that answers your question or not, but …

Dave: Yeah it does, actually. More—I mean besides that, cuz there’s something deeper than just wanting to, like …

Paul: Well there’s definitely a voyeur.

Dave: Yeah, that’s what I mean.

Paul: I’m a definite voyeur. I mean, the Shame and Secrets survey that I have is a completely voyeuristic e-e-experience. It’s—but part of that, a part of it is just the pure voyeur of, you know, I’m curious, I’m nosy, but the other part of it is that I want to—I-I-I since I’ve been a little kid I’ve had this intense curiosity about what makes people tick. I will watch any documentary about serial killers. I love—

Dave: I used to do that.

Paul: I-I-I love—

Dave: Read all the books, the serial killer books.

Paul: Oh yeah.

Dave: Do you still do that?

Paul: Not, no, not so much anymore. But like the—one of the most fascinating, disturbing books I ever read was, uh, I think it was called The Mind Hunter by John Douglas who’s the—he’s the premier, um, serial killer profiler, uh, he basically invented that whole FBI profiler thing. He was the guy that The Silence of the Lambs, the FBI guy that was—it was based on. And he wrote this fascinating book about getting into the mind of these incredibly broken people and why they do what they do and their modus operandi and their signature and all of that stuff. I—that stuff is endlessly fascinating to me. So the Shame and Secrets survey on the, uh, on the website, I get, I get to read that stuff every day. Not about serial killers, but about people’s deep—people that want to fucking leave their family behind. People that are tired of fucking their spouse, people that want to fuck their dad, you know, all of that stuff. That is just endlessly fascinating to me.

Dave: That—i-it is fascinating. Do you think—besides the voyeur part, because I have a theory about why people want to be psychologists, and it’s that—because they come from broken places also. And it’s that they are using it to recreate those feelings of sadness through empathy. You know what I mean?

Paul: Mmm-hmmm.

Dave: Because they’ve done a lot of work on themselves so now they like to sit in it a little bit and feel it a little bit.

Paul: That’s interesting. I never, I never thought about that. Because I don’t—sadness is not, it’s not a, an emotion that, that I get off on or that I enjoy. When I feel it I still try—my first instinct is to still run from it. Um, but what I love more than anything is finding a similarity between myself and somebody else.

Dave: Yeah I agree with that.

Paul: That’s what drives me more than anything.

Dave: I think that’s just an inherent human thing.

Paul: Especially when you felt like you were a freak and broken most of your life. Wh-which I felt most of my life, that I was just a broken freak.

Dave: Oh totally, I was completely like—I had a group of friends that I was friends with but I was like the guy who never had a girlfriend and like really be close to anyone and that guy, yeah.

Paul: Yeah. Um, do you wanna do a-a-a-a fear-off? Is there, is there anything else you want to touch on before we do a fear-off?

Dave: A fear-off is fine.

Paul: Ok, th-this is from a listener. I-I’ve listed so many of my—

Dave: That’s a really big list.

Paul: It is.

Dave: That’s what scared me.

Paul: Well if we could put all my fears together from all the episodes that I’ve done, it would be about ten times the size of this list.

Dave: Cuz, you, you asked me to come up with fears and it was hard to sit down and think of—do you find it hard and they then start coming, or can you just list them? I’m not a guy who can just sit down—I’m not like Richard Lewis.

Paul: My first 200 fears were not difficult. It’s getting difficult now to not, to not repeat them. Um, here’s a fear that I, that I had: um, was that it was gonna be difficult to get you to open up in this interview.

Dave: (laughs) I’m not that guy. It seems like I would be that guy because of my exterior. I’m not that guy—it would have been—I still carry the, as my friend called it, the “I’m gonna blow up a building” eyes around but it’s not—I’m not that, like it’s a little more of an exterior thing now, yeah.

Paul: I’ve been really, uh, pleased with how easy it’s been to get you to open up.

Dave: This ends with a hot tub, right?

Paul: (laughs) Here’s what we do, Dave – we give each other back rubs and we let nature take its course. Uh, I am gonna be reading fears from, uh, from a listener named, uh, Allie. And, uh—

Dave: She’s gotta have more than me cuz I only have like eight.

Paul: W-w-we don’t have to do all of hers, we’ll just, uh, we’ll just go until we feel like stopping. Uh, she writes, “I’m afraid of getting mugged or raped.”

Dave: Wow, uh, I’m afraid of my son—of, of dying before my son is grown.

Paul: Uh, “I’m afraid of not getting mugged or raped because I am too large a person to merit getting attacked.” Her fears are so fucking awesome.

Dave: (laughs) Oh my God.

Paul: I sort of have written on the top of her thing, “She has great fears.”

Dave: That’s amazing. Those are fantastic. Uh, wow, I-I-I am, uh, afraid of not being able to make a living.

Paul: Uh, “I’m afraid that I’ll die from cracking my neck and then the paramedics will see that I died watching King of the Hill reruns on Netflix wearing a $6 housedress from Walgreens.”

Dave: (laughs)

Paul: I fucking love this woman.

Dave: Oh, uh, ok, uh, my son dealing with any sort of pain or anxiety.

Paul: Uh, “I’m afraid of getting pregnant and having to go off of my bipolar meds and then killing myself because of my crippling depression.”

Dave: Jesus Christ!

Paul: She’s good.

Dave: I’m afraid my chronic, uh, foot pain will never go away.

Paul: “I’m afraid no one will want to marry me because I don’t want kids.”

Dave: Uh, I’m afraid I’ll no longer be funny some day.

Paul: Uh, “I’m afraid of getting my shoelaces caught in an escalator.” I have that one.

Dave: Oh yeah!

Paul: I always think about every single time I get on an escalator.

Dave: I do too. Always. But I think that was put into us by our parents, right, wasn’t that a big thing you’d say?

Paul: Yeah. “It’ll shoot you out like a potato chip!”

Dave: (laughs) I was, I was told my foot would be torn off.

Paul: Yeah.

Dave: I’m afraid of becoming irrelevant.

Paul: Uh, “I am afraid that I’ve peaked physical attractiveness-wise.”

Dave: Hmmm… Oh I have. Uh, I am afraid of bombing onstage.

Paul: Uh, “I am afraid my labia are too big.”

Dave: Oh, me too!

Paul: I’ve seen yours and I think yours are dainty.

Dave: Oh you’re right, thank you.

Paul: If I could just, uh, on that point, I’ve gotten more than uh, a couple of women wh-who feel that way, that that’s a-a-a-a fear of theirs. There’s a website and it is a really rampant thing. There’s a documentary about it and the name of it escapes me right now. I’ll try, I’ll try to remember it but there’s a website called Vaginas of the World. It’s a Tumblr site and this woman started it because she wanted to help fight—a lot of women are getting vaginoplasty and labia work because they think that the vaginas you see in pornography is the norm.

Dave: No.

Paul: And so this woman started this website for women to anon—anonymously post pictures of their vaginas so that everybody can see that there is no normal and that what women think is hideous is not. And people leave comments basically saying, you know, “You’re perfectly fine. You’re lovely. Don’t change a thing. Do not get surgery.” And this, this listener, uh, had confided in me through a, I think it was a fear list that she, that she hates her labia and feels that they’re too big and so I told her to go to this website and she said it blew her away. And she felt completely different about her body after seeing that. And I can tell you when I went there, of course the first five minutes I was looking it was, ‘Look at all the vaginas!’

Dave: Yeah, a lot of vaginas.

Paul: But after looking at it for a while, it completely changed my view of what the spectrum of vaginas is like and it made me—

Dave: The VS?

Paul: The Vagina Spectrum. It’s violet at the left end and then bright pink on the right end. It made me feel two things: it made me feel a little sad when I realized the intense amount of self-hatred that women have about how their vaginas look; and it also made me realize what a variety there are out there and what—h-how much pornography had fucked up my view of what a vagina should look like. And I just want to recommend it for anybody out there, uh, that—men and women, to go check it out. And it’s done in a very respectful way. If anybody posts anything piggish th-the woman that does it, um, you know, takes their comments away.

Dave: Really?

Paul: Because you know every once in a while you get jackass that’s, you know, a fucking troll.

Dave: ‘That’s a sweet pussy, I’d hit that.’ That kind of thing?

Paul: Yeah, I mean they do, like if they’re complimentary ones like that even, she’ll leave—

Dave: Oh they’ll leave that?

Paul: She’ll leave ones up like, like that because—

Dave: But not like, ‘Your vagina’s horrible.’

Paul: Right, like, yeah.

Dave: I would say that every vagina is like a snowflake: every one is different.

Paul: I would agree.

Dave: So, just let your snowflake be.

Paul: And that ends This Month in Labia.

Dave: (laughs) that would be a great podcast.

Paul: Um, where are we? Um, your turn.

Dave: Um, my father getting emotional before he dies.

Paul: You’re afraid of that?

Dave: Yeah, I don’t want to deal with it.

Paul: Yeah because that would be a tsunami.

Dave: It would be a tsunami and a lot of it’s too little too late but it’s also like I don’t have those feelings anymore, you know what I mean? Like it’s—it would be awkward for him to like, get, and you know, people do it, at the end of their life, they get really emotional and for me to be like, “Dude, that just wasn’t, that’s just not what it is.”

Paul: I put my wall up, I’m not ready to take it down again.

Dave: Yeah. I’m, I’m good.

Paul: Cuz there would have to be some reinjuring in moving back in closer to him.

Dave: Yeah, sure. It would open up a lot of shit that I just, um, yeah, I’m good.

Paul: Um, Allie writes, “I’m afraid of bugs crawling in my ears and eating my brain.”

Dave: Jesus Christ! Uh I’m afraid of my neighbors finding out that I talk about them on the podcast.

Paul: Um, “I’m afraid of having children and then fucking up their lives because their mother is mentally ill.”

Dave: Wait, “I’m afraid of having children and fucking…” Oh.

Paul: She’s afraid that …

Dave: Oh, I’m afraid that I’ll pass my anger on to my son.

Paul: Uh, “I’m afraid of being hated by strangers.” I have that one.

Dave: You do?

Paul: Oh yeah. I want everybody to love me. It’s sick.

Dave: I don’t give a fuck.

Paul: Oh, I wanna get there.

Dave: I just don’t care. Greg, my podcast partner, is like that. I don’t give a shit.

Paul: It goes back and forth. When I’m in a good place I don’t give a fuck. But when I’m not in a good place, it’s like I need everybody to …

Dave: Do you read comments about the podcast and …. ?

Paul: Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.

Dave: Yeah, we’re all there for ya.

Paul: (laughs) Your turn.

Dave: Is it my turn? I think I’m out.

Paul: All right. Let’s move into a, uh—let’s move into the love-off.

Dave: Ah, shit.

Paul: Let’s go ahead and unbutton that shirt.

Dave: (laughs) What? Whoa. It’s weird that the microphone moved when we got to the love-off. Um, well, I mean, the obligatory, I love my wife and my son. Like that’s, yeah.

Paul: Ok. I’m gonna be reading the loves from, uh, Katie, who is not only a listener but, uh, a friend and a great, uh, great supporter of the show. And she writes, “I love when my cat lies on me and I can feel him purring while he breathes.”

Dave: Yeah, that’s pretty good. Uh, I love watching my son learn something for the first time.

Paul: “I love clean laundry.”

Dave: Uh, I love water, not—and there’s more to that. I love—

Paul: Yeah, I was gonna say, Jesus Christ.

Dave: I don’t stare at the sink. I love, like, ocean, I love lakes, I love pools, I just love being around water.

Paul: Something so calming about just looking at a body of water. Even if, uh, there’s a dead person floating in it. I’ll be like, “It’s all part of nature.”

Dave: Oh come on, India.

Paul: Um, Katie writes, “I love when I know my favorite show has recorded and is ready to watch.” I love that one.

Dave: Really?

Paul: Oh yeah. Like Mad Men or The Walking Dead. By the way, we should plug, are you still writing for The Talking Dead?

Dave: I-I might go back. I-I have a show uh, that they might make a pilot for on Comedy Central and if that goes, then I won’t go back but otherwise I will go back to The Talking Dead, yeah.

Paul: How are you going to sabotage both of those at the same time?

Dave: I don’t know, I’ll figure it out. I’ll figure it out.

Paul: Yeah. You could do like that guy and publicly jerk off. Who was the guy who ….?

Dave: Yeah.

Paul: Comedy Central, actually, it probably wouldn’t bother them. They’d be like, “This is good, this is good free press.”

Dave: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, I love people who speak their mind.

Paul: “I love when my cats cuddle and groom each other.”

Dave: A lot of cat stuff going on here.

Paul: Katie loves her cats.

Dave: Um, I love going to the movies.

Paul: “I love when I fall asleep quickly without immediately worrying about the future.”

Dave: Fuck! Uh, I love sitting on a porch and doing nothing.

Paul: Oh that is a good one. That is a fucking great one. “I love when I wake up a bit before my alar and I’m able to fall asleep for a few more minutes.” I like that one.

Dave: Um, I love writing.

Paul: “I love when my fiancé sends me a funny or sweet text during the day.”

Dave: I love watching my son laugh.

Paul: “I love watching magicians.” Does that include the three-year-old Dave Anthony disappearing inside himself? What if that was one of her loves? My God, she was there!

Dave: (laughs, snorts) I just snorted!

Paul: She was there!

Dave: I just snorted, almost knocked the microphone over. Uh, I love performing comedy.

Paul: “I love new socks.”

Dave: Fuck, I love new socks too.

Paul: It’s great. After they’re first washed.

Dave: Yeah.

Paul: And new underwear. I like new underwear.

Dave: Yeah new underwear is a good one.

Paul: I will wear underwear until my wife is like, “Throw that shit away. There’s holes—you have holes in your underwear.”

Dave: Yeah. I’m the same way. Uh, I love clean sheets.

Paul: “I love aimless walking around Target and browsing the never-ending amounts of shit I’ll never need but always want.” I like that.

Dave: Yeah. Uh, I love, uh, I love sitting and watching people walk around the grove.

Paul: I’m gonna read this one even though it feels self-indulgent. But Katie wrote it. Uh, “I love Fridays because it’s fucking Friday and because new episodes of The Mental Illness Happy Hour get posted.”

Dave: See? I mean that was, you know, that was …

Paul: But I had to qualify it. I couldn’t read it because people are gonna think I’m reading her fears cuz—I’m so afraid that people are gonna think I’m full of myself.

Dave: I think you are.

Paul: Yeah, I am.

Dave: Um, I love waking up on Saturday mornings and watching European soccer. God.

Paul: “I love when people say hi when I walk by them on the street or when they respond to my greeting without giving me a weird look.”

Dave: Really? How do you feel about that?

Paul: Oh I completely agree.

Dave: Just random strangers, you’re giving that?

Paul: Oh I love, I love saying hi to strangers and getting a nice response back.

Dave: Here’s what I love – I love finding a new sandwich place that makes awesome sandwiches.

Paul: Yes. Especially if they’re toasted.

Dave: Yeah.

Paul: You ever been to Pot Belly?

Dave: No.

Paul: They’re originally from Chicago and now apparently they’re spreading around, but they, oh.

Dave: Really?

Paul: Yeah.

Dave: Are they here?

Paul: That’s what their adjective should be – oh! Just so fucking good. Yeah, yeah, they cook them in a wood fired oven. I think it’s wood fired, but it’s an oven, I know, I know that.

Dave: And they’re out here now? Or are they coming?

Paul: I believe so. I know that they’ve spread beyond uh, Chicago.

Dave: I’ll check it out.

Paul: “I love when someone I remember also remembers me.”

Dave: This happened to me this morning and it wasn’t on my list, uh, but I love, I love when I’m able to drive from Sepulveda on Olympic all the way to Robertson and hit all greens.

Paul: Nice.

Dave: I was like, this is amazing. I couldn’t have been happier.

Paul: Uh, Katie writes, “I love Kraft Macaroni ‘n’ Cheese and no I’m not five years old.”

Dave: Fuck, who doesn’t? Uh, I love when my—when I go to pick up my son at he runs at me yelling, “Daddy!”

Paul: Ah that’s beautiful.

Dave: Yeah, it’s one of the best ones.

Paul: How does he feel though when you peel out and laugh at him? As he stands there crying.

Dave: I say, uh, I say, “Welcome to my childhood.” You know it’s just getting back at him for the stuff my dad did.

Paul: Yeah. Enjoy your chalupa. I’ll be at the sports bar.

Dave: Chalupa! They didn’t even have chalupas back then. It was literally burritos, burrito supremes, they had beef burger thing, and tacos. Like they didn’t have—it was like five items back then. It wasn’t—they had fancy cups with Bugs Bunny on them, so …

Paul: Uh, Katie writes, “I love a home cooked meal.”

Dave: Yeah, along those lines – I love everything about making a meal in crockpot. You walk in the house the whole house smells and then you eat it and it’s amazing.

Paul: And the cleanup is simple.

Dave: It’s so great.

Paul: It’s all about the cleanup for me. My wife says that I should write a book about how to make and eat a meal using nothing but my fingers and standing at the sink.

Dave: That would be a great book!

Paul: Katie writes, “I love getting super into a good book where I can hardly put it down and can’t wait to pick it up again.”

Dave: Um, I love, uh, I love the first like really cold day of the year.

Paul: Yes! “I love when something just clicks like when I finally figure out the lyrics to a song.” Are you done?

Dave: Yeah, that’s all I had.

Paul: Then we’ll end with, uh, Katie’s last one, “I love being a non-smoker and not missing cigarettes. Never fucking thought that would happen.”

Dave: Wow.

Paul: That’s a beautiful place to be.

Dave: I didn’t think that happened.

Paul: It does. I smoked for a couple of years and then quit. I don’t miss them at all.

Dave: Really?

Paul: People that smoked for like decades and then don’t miss them, I think that’s unusual. My wife is one of them.

Dave: I thought you always wanted them.

Paul: Nope. Not for everybody. But, uh, Dave Anthony, thank you so much.

Dave: Thank you.

Paul: If you guys haven’t checked out Walking the Room, go check it out. It’s, it’s awesome. And, uh, its there anything else that you’d like to, uh …

Dave: Plug?

Paul: Let them know about?

Dave: No. We’re doing a couple live Walking the Rooms in Austin and Oklahoma City in August, I think it’s 18th and 19th.

Paul: That’s so great. It’s so great that you guys are able to take this on the road.

Dave: Well, we’ll see how it goes.

Paul: Yeah. See if you sabotage it. Uh, so, uh, thanks so much Dave.

Dave: Thank you, this was awesome.

Paul: Many thanks to, uh, to Dave Anthony. Uh, what a, what a great guy. So much, uh, so much fun to hang around with.

Um, let’s see, a couple of notes before we go out with—I had a really interesting survey response from the Shame and Secrets survey that, uh, that I want to read. But a couple of, uh, of notes before that. Um, if you are somebody who is in the public eye and you are a fan of the show, and you would be interested in coming on, please don’t hesitate to email me. One of the things that I do like about having guests that are more, I don’t know what you would call it, famous or high profile, is I get a lot of responses back from people that are shocked that people in high positions or in the public eye, they’re shocked that these people’s lives aren’t magically better. And, um, I would like to have more people like that on the show and also selfishly because it will help the show grow and, uh, help me get to that place where uh, I can support myself from doing it.

Um, couple of things to mention before we get to that, uh, that survey. Um, the—there’s a few different ways if you would like to support the show, a couple different ways you can do that. You can support us financially by going to the website and making a donation. The website is mentalpod.com, and uh, you can do a single PayPal donation or a recurring monthly donation, which makes me extremely happy. You can also shop through our Amazon link. We get a couple nickels from Amazon, doesn’t cost you anything, it’s right there on the homepage, right hand side about halfway down. And, uh, you can buy a Mental Illness Happy Hour t-shirt. You can support us non-financially by going to iTunes, giving us a good rating. That boosts our ranking, brings more people to the show. And you can help non-financially by just spreading the word through Reddit, Tumblr, all those other social media sites.

The more you can spread the word, uh, the more we can help destigmatize mental illness and get help for the people that need it, because it is serious, this is a serious fucking thing. I know we joke around a lot, but, you know, what happened in Colorado, if that doesn’t drive home, um, what untreated mental illness can look like, um, and maybe that guy was treated, who knows what his full story is, but I don’t think there’s any doubt mental illness played a role in that. And, um, you know, like I said before, if you say you care about the victims but you are not for more money going to mental health care for all Americans, uh, you really don’t care about the victims because you don’t care about future victims. And, uh, that may be divisive for me to say that but, uh, if you disagree, go fuck yourself. And I don’t mean that in a funny way, I mean that in a truly go fuck yourself way. Cuz it’s, uh, it’s exhausting living with mental illness. I’m uh, I’m fucking tired of it. I’m really fucking tired of it and I have access to decent, uh, health care. I get to see a psychiatrist, I get to see a psychologist. You know, I get my meds paid for through my wife’s insurance. And a lot of people don’t and that’s fucked up. We call ourselves the greatest country in the world, um, that doesn’t strike me as a quality of a great country. I’m not saying this isn’t a great country, I’m just saying there’s a disconnect there.

All right, enough of my soapbox. Um, I want to take—let’s get on to something more lighthearted like a mother sexualizing her child. This survey comes from, um a guy who calls himself Proud New Papa. His, uh—he’s straight, he’s in his 30’s, was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment, uh, “Ever been the victim of sexual abuse?” He says, “Some stuff happened but I don’t know if it counts as sexual abuse. My mother acted inappropriately with me on many occasions. She thought it would be funny to play grab-ass with me until I was in college. Uh, she used to force me to kiss her on the lips until I was almost 19. When I would object to the kissing, she would get very mad and almost yell at me, making me feel ashamed that I wouldn’t do something that made me feel so very uncomfortable. But worst of all was when I was 11 and 12 twelve years old. She would try to get me to take my swimsuit off while swimming in our pool. It did not even re-enter my consciousness that this occurred until I heard Paul discussing his issues with his mother on the podcast. I have so much anger, guilt and shame pouring through me daily because of this that it is affecting every aspect of my life and I don’t know what to do about it.”

“Deepest, darkest thoughts?” He writes, “I have contemplated suicide at various points in my life since I was 14. I think often about just saying, ‘Fuck everything,’ and going off and living in the middle of the woods away from everyone and everything.” Which, by the way, of all the surveys, I read, that is the most common fantasy that most people have, or dark thought, that they just want to cut contact with everybody and just move someplace else. He writes, “There have been many times recently where the only thing that has stopped me from doing this is the fact that I would not see my two young children ever again. I also think that when my wife is late or hasn’t called for a while that something happened, or she has died in an accident. Rather than calling to check on her, I start planning for my widower future in my head, contemplating how I would go about raising the kids without her. How I would involve her family in their lives and how quickly I would have to sell the house and move back in with my parents, which would be the worst part of the whole thing. Even worse than the fact that my wife was dead.” Boy, do I get that one. The thought of having to move back in with, uh, an abusive parent, wow. “After a half hour of this, I finally realize that I should finally call and check on her.”

“What are the sexual fantasies most powerful to you?” He writes, “I have a fantasy of being completely degraded and just giving all control to my wife, to be her servant. I want her to yell at me, and beat me, and recognize me for the piece of shit I am. I want her to fuck other guys in front of me and rub it in my face. I want her to just abandon me alone in the room while she goes and has an orgy next store so that I can hear everything that is going on but be powerless to stop it. On the other hand, I want to completely dominate her as well. Leave her tied up on the bed. Force her to satisfy my urges and make her have sex with a parade of women while I direct them all to satisfy my depraved desires. Man, I sound like a sicko and I’m surprising myself by writing this. I feel disgusting.” You’re not disgusting. You are, you are a human being, and, uh, do not feel, do not feel shame about, uh, thinking or feeling that stuff.

Uh, “Would you ever consider telling a partner or close friend your fantasies?” He writes, “I tried to mention bringing a new person into bed every once in a while but I don’t know how receptive my wife is to it. So I just stopped bringing it up. Plus it makes me feel like a perv to even acknowledge these thoughts.”

“What are the deepest, darkest secrets, things that you’ve done or things that have happened to you?” He writes, “I was the coordinator for a fundraiser at a college charity. I didn’t trust the other people and the group to pay the money to charity, so I deposited it into my bank account. And rather than pay the money to the charity, I used it to pay my own bills. It was only $300, and I have donated more than that since then to try to make up for it. Um, also, I once got a blowjob from a coworker in the stockroom while my wife and I were still dating before we got married. That was the only time I have ever had a woman swallow.” And he also lists, “I also find myself contemplating moments in life of extreme embarrassment and beating myself up over them. To the point where I still can’t move past them. I go all the way back to things that happened in elementary school, and I’m in my 30’s and still feel like a piece of shit and everyone is judging me for then. Even though I know rationally that there is no way anyone currently in my life is aware of these things.”

“Do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feelings toward yourself?” He writes, “Guilt, anger, hatred, insufficiency, worry. The fact that the blowjob is still in my spank bank worries me and makes me feel shame and remorse.” You know, I’m sure anybody listening to this, hearing your survey, if you’re listening, the person that filled this out, you are so hard on yourself, you know. What you went through is so difficult as a child because you had a parent who was denying who you were as a human being and they were treating you like an object and using you and that is incredibly fucking damaging. And I think you need to give yourself, uh, a little bit of slack. I mean, one of the things that you feel most guilty about is that you just had some money for a little while from this charity and then you paid it back? I mean, boy on the grand curve of humanity on the things that we’ve done, dude, you are, uh, a really good person. A really good person. Um but all the people in the world could tell you that and until you feel that yourself, it’s never gonna make a difference. That’s the thing that’s so fucked up a-about mental illness and it—the damage that we, that we’ve been through is that stuff gets planted so deeply in ourselves.

Um, at the end of the, the survey, to the question, “Do you have any comments or suggestions to make the podcast better?” He writes, “Since I started listening to the podcast, I’ve started to confront these issues in my past and have begun seeking therapy. I still have a long way to go but I know that I will get there. Partially because of the work that you are doing. My self-improvement is the most important thing to me right now because of my young children. I want to do anything and everything I can to provide a stable, warm and loving environment for them, and to be a pillar of support as they grow older. I know that I cannot avoid fucking something up, and, by connection, them, but at least I can minimize the extent of the fucking up and I owe this in part to you. Please continue the good work.”

Well that’s very sweet of you to, uh, to say that, um, you know, I-I’m very flattered. And it also makes me feel good to know that there’s somebody out there who experienced what I experienced. It sounds like yours was more extreme than what I experienced, but the thing that is awesome is that you can see that, like Dave Anthony talked about, it is time to move beyond being a victim. You know what happened, you know some fucked up shit happened, but now you are into action, and that is what an adult does. And I think that is awesome and I think you are to be applauded, and you are, you are a shining example of what is best about human beings, is their resilience. I heard somebody say something, uh, the other day, uh, “You can’t think your way out of a thinking problem. You can only behave your way out of a thinking problem.” And you are beginning to behave your way out of a thinking problem by going to therapy and there you will learn other behaviors that will help you cure this cycle of negative thinking in your head that tells you that you’re a piece of shit and you are not. There are so many of us just like you, so many.

And if you’re out there and you’re struggling, it can get better. You just gotta decide to stop being the victim. Get off your ass, and go ask for help no matter how embarrassing it is. Because that’s the beginning. And, uh, know that you’re not alone. And thanks for listening.