Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 23/2/16.
Daisy Berry is a unique comedian who likes to tell it as it is, and you’ll get to witness her in action when she presents her new comedy act Am I Mental? at the Melbourne International Comedy Show on the 5th of April until the 17th of April 2016. Milk Bar Magazine had a chat to Daisy all about her show, how she aims to challenge mental health stigmas and what her ideal superpower would be.
Am I Mental? is going to be all about Daisy’s personal life, and basically everybody in the audience is being encouraged to judge her mental health: ‘Basically the premise is that people get to judge my mental health, since I liked the idea of people always saying that stand up comedy is like therapy, which is very true,’ Daisy says. ‘But I wanted to take that and just heighten it and make it a bit more literal, so I talk about personal stuff in my show and my life and whatever.’
Daisy even hands out surveys so that people can assess her mental health: ‘I hand out surveys at one point to a few audience members and they basically tick a box of whether I’m fucked or not.’ These surveys are definitely one of the highlights of Daisy’s show: she gets so curious of what people will say about her after she’s showcased her entire life to them.
‘I kind of always found that whole idea of people just bitching about their problems on the stage and people just listening to that and us feeling better for it just kind of ridiculous. It’s great,’ Daisy says, in response to what exactly has inspired her to engage with her audience in such a unique way.
There is also Daisy’s aim to challenge the stigmas that circulate mental health issues that makes her show so distinctive. She wants to normalise mental health issues by providing us with the idea that we all have our own issues: ‘My main message that I want to get across is that we’re all a bit fucked you know, like some people maybe more so than others but not necessarily,’ Daisy says.
She continues: ‘I think we’re all pretty screwed in our own way and that some people have been labeled for it and have actually dealt with it and gone to the doctors and are maybe on medication or whatever. But we’re all these screwed human beings giving birth to other screwed human beings and raising them, like we’re all screwed so that’s basically what I want to get across.’
Daisy has faced some concerns in challenging mental health stigmas, since it can be a sensitive topic: ‘I don’t want my show to come across like “I’m taking the piss out of the mentally ill”, like I’m taking the piss out of myself and the fact that there’s this stigmatised weird view of mental health,’ she says. ‘I don’t want it to come across like “oh crazy people, how funny are they?” and people’s political correctness these days kind of makes you hyperaware not to, like the way you word and the way it comes across.’
Comedians certainly do love to take the piss out of themselves, and it’s their job to make us laugh: ‘Comedians are crazy, like everyday I’m like “why am I doing this? Like this is insane.” There’s this breed of people that just choose to put themselves on a stage and share their most personal thoughts and just go ‘yep, there you go, judge me,’’ Daisy says. ‘You’re putting yourself on the line, then people may not laugh and we hate ourselves, like it’s just insane. It’s the whole thing, just hoping people will laugh at us, not even necessarily with us, just laugh at all and I’m happy. It can be at me, it’s fine.’
There are many things that people tend to accuse Daisy of having, but one of the most prominent comments she can think of is the fact that she gets teased a lot by her friends for being gay and single. ‘It’s just like this ongoing thing of like “Daisy just can’t get a girlfriend” like I kind of feel like that’s my stigma sometimes, like I just scare women away or something,’ Daisy says in an amused tone. ‘No, not even that, like I feel sometimes like I’m that tragic single person in a movie, you know like that trashy single, the best friend, the less attractive one, that’s me.’ However, Daisy confirms that she doesn’t have anything that’s diagnosed or anything like that: ‘I just kind of liked the idea that everyone is screwed to a certain level, particularly comedians. Like choosing to do what we do.’
When asked about which mental illnesses are the most overlooked in today’s society, Daisy answered with anxiety and depression because they’re so common. ‘People are getting better with it, partly because they’re so common, but I just feel like people aren’t sympathetic enough to it yet. There’s still this mentality for some people, not everyone, but a lot of people are like ‘you know what, just get over it’ and it’s like ‘that’s not really an option, people don’t really get to press a button and just get over themselves. So I think that one needs to adjust for a lot of people, especially since it’s so common and you would know so many people with it.’
If Daisy could describe herself in three words, she would use ‘short’, ‘sarcastic’ and ‘cynical’. Also, if she could have any superpower, it would be to transport herself anywhere in the world. ‘You know in Harry Potter, when they have this thing where they can disappear and reappear somewhere else? I want that, how cool would it be? You can just go to other countries and you don’t have to muck around with flights or anything.’
If Daisy could go to any place in the world, it would have to be New York, since she’s heard so many people raving about it and she’s already been to America, but hasn’t had the chance to go to New York yet. Other than New York, she wants to go everywhere: ‘I want to go to Europe, and I want to go to Egypt for some reason because I’ve always really wanted to go there. To see the pyramids, that’d be so cool. I’d come back really tanned, not that that would ever happen,’ Daisy laughs.
A random fact about Daisy is that she is obsessed with mi goreng noodles. ‘It’s like an addiction that I’ve had since I was like 15,’ she says. ‘I’ve reached a point now where I’m not even a poor student anymore and I’m still eating these, like I’m living in poverty. Yeah, I’m pretty broke but still it’s like ‘you were supposed to like grow out of this at some stage’ and I’m like ‘I’m never going to,’ she laughs.
To conclude the interview, I asked Daisy whether she had anything to say to those who are struggling with a mental illness: ‘I think, and it’s going to sound so cheesy, but I think like to just push through, because you can just have the worst day and just feel like life is fucked, but then you cut to even three days later, and it’s like ‘oh actually, like now I’m out of that hole and everything’s a bit more in perspective, it wasn’t that bad.’
She continues: ‘Also, I think they should remember that they’re not the only person feeling like that you know, and to talk to someone because the more you internalise it, the more you lose perspective and you’re not really in touch with what’s going on. You’re just going round and round in your own head, so yeah you’ve just got to externalise it I think.’
Am I Mental?
Highlander Bar, 11a Highlander Lane, Melbourne
Tuesday April 5 – Sunday April 17