How to Weep in Public - Q&A with Comedian Jacqueline Novak

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Jacqueline Novak is a comedian and long time sufferer of depression whose stand up comedy has been featured on The Late Late Show with James Corden and Comedy Central. Her book How to Weep in Public is not a how-to guide on how to escape depression. Instead, Jacqueline's book is like a hand to hold when stuck in the dark; a friend when life is grim.

Jacqueline has given Depression Army the wonderful opportunity to interview her, just in time to pick up her book on sale. The sale ends on October 1st. Visit her website to see a sample of the book, and follow her on twitter at @JacquelineNovak or Instagram @jacnov.

Below is our Q&A!

So for starters, talk to me a bit about your history with depression. How old were you when it first started, and how did you cope with it?

I started dealing with depression in high school. I would come home and sleep, or go to the nurse's office and sleep. I would feel like I had to flop down on the ground, and I'd lie there, listing off in my head all the reasons I had *no* reason to feel bad, but still feel unable to get up.

I've often heard about the mental health challenges associated with being a comedian, yet your book is colored with humor. Do you feel comedy has helped you cope better?

I don't think comedy causes depression or anything - I actually think it's a pretty great community to be in if you're struggling with really anything. Comedians are very into honesty and are usually pretty open minded. So at least among comedians, I never feel like I have to put on a facade of normalcy in any way. 

Photo by Mindy Tucker

Photo by Mindy Tucker

How did you become a comedian, and how did that influence both your depression and your book? Why did you want to write a funny book about depression?

I always loved to write and perform and those two things came together in stand-up. Getting yourself to a show and onto a stage is a major challenge when depressed, but so is going anywhere and doing anything. So in a way I think I decided, if I'm going to do all this work to get somewhere, it might as well be to do something I think is really cool. When everything's hard, a traditionally hard thing isn't even that much harder than anything else. Strange depression loophole maybe.

What is your favorite part of your book? What do you want to tell potential buyers the most? 

Someone messaged me and said the book felt like a friend. That's my main goal. To keep the depressed reader comfy, make them feel less alone, and make them feel like even though they're in this state of isolation or feeling worthless, that they're not, that it will pass. My main goal was to not pressure the reader to feel better or take a walk or anything. But to tell them, it's ok if today, tomorrow, you do absolutely nothing. It's ok even if you're not ok.  No need to be depressed about being depressed. I try to lift that secondary burden. 

For a fun hypothetical, what would you tell the you prior to writing your book about your life now, and what might she say back?

Well, it's funny. I started writing the book from the perspective that my depression was hopefully temporary. The book was a way of saying to myself, "I'm depressed now, but I won't always be. I'll write from this state honestly, and later, when I'm not depressed, I hope, this will have value as authentic."

About Jacqueline

Photo by: Mindy Tucker

Photo by: Mindy Tucker

In 2016, Jacqueline made her network debut on The Late Late Show with James Corden, shot The Half Hour special for Comedy Central, and released her first book HOW TO WEEP IN PUBLIC: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows. Jacqueline was named a 2015 Comedy Central Comic to Watch and 2016 Just for Laughs New Face, appeared on Animals on HBO, The Characters on Netflix, and starred in her own Refinery29 series How to Weep in Public, directed by John Early. Jacqueline just released a second book, WEDDICULOUS, a collaboration with comedian Jamie Lee. This fall she's touring clubs and theaters, opening for Mike Birbiglia.