“I hope it could help anyone going through anything similar not to feel alone.” | Harriet Dyer talks wanging on about mental health at the Women in Comedy Festival

Tell us about your new show, Mentally Fine.

This is the first and only time the new show’s going to be called that as I had to think of something quickly whilst I was in the middle of doing the last show. Although, I guess the premise will still be similar… perhaps odder. 

In this, the earliest preview of the new show it’ll be a load of funny stuff about mental health because I probably haven’t mentioned that enough. I’m working things out for the new show. I’ve bought some nonsense so no doubt a dinosaur or eyes on springs will feature at some point. Soon I’ll get a green screen and it’ll be me from the future talking to me but I’m not ready for that yet, I’m still in my tech hangover from last year’s show. 

This is by no means the first time you’ve talked about your mental health on stage. What made you decide to discuss such personal things in your act?

I’d say it’s a big part of who I am and I reckon the closer you are to how you really are onstage is probably the better you’re going to be. Plus I don’t have counselling any more and wanging on about it so much is probably the next best thing. 

When you first started talking about mental health in comedy, was it difficult encouraging people to laugh at it?

Not really. If something’s funny it’s funny, whether it’s about mental health or not.

Having said that I guess I do pick which nights which are best for it, although there’s always at least some mental health stuff in all sets but it varies. The only people that don’t laugh are people that love to get offended on behalf of someone else, most likely have never had mental health problems. If you do, you get it. 

I do mental health corporates quite a bit. A big part of it is to create more of a talking point around mental health in the workplace. I’m so open and honest in these, which I think is the way to do it.

They’re usually nothing but wonderful but at this one there were these girls that were on their phones from the off, shaking their heads, putting head in hands, scoffing etc. And that I think takes a special kind of cunt to behave like that when another person is literally in front of them, well, telling them how much they’ve struggled in life.

What would your advice be for other performers – or anyone really – looking to find the joy in topics like this?

Write everything down, make it into a joke then travel the land (but choose places you know are nice) saying it. If it ends up in your set or not it’ll be cathartic. If you’re not ready to talk about certain things onstage, that’s fine too, just choose what you want when you’re ready. 

How do you think comedy can help reduce the stigma around mental health?

Comedy gets people that have watched it talking about it after so if you’ve seen comedy that was about mental health then that’s what’ll be spoken about. It’s better now, but still mental health needs to be spoken about more so this can only be a good thing.

How do you think comedy as an industry could do more to support the mental health of performers?

More people just need to treat people how they want to be treated. Don’t be a creepy bastard, don’t be a cliquey bastard making other people feel shit at gigs. If you’re a promoter, pay on time and don’t be a wazzock online. 

What made you want to debut your new show at the Women In Comedy Festival UK?

Women in Comedy Fest in local and lovely, so where better to?

Are there any other shows at the Women In Comedy Festival UK that you’re excited to see?

Hoping I can catch – Sadia Azmat and Nobumi Kobayshi, Amy Gledhill, Hayley Ellis, Maddie Campion and Kathryn Mather

What do you hope people take away from your show?

In being open and honest about things I’ve been through, I hope it could hopefully help anyone going through anything similar not to feel so alone.

Harriet is performing Mentally Fine on October 7th as part of the Women in Comedy Festival.

Book your ticket here.

Find out more about the Women in Comedy Festival here.

To keep up with other things Harriet has going on, you can check out her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.