The world of comedy is often associated with drinking, drugs, and debauchery. Many comedians perform in nightclubs where drinking is not only encouraged, but even required. For comedy lovers who wish to remain sober, it can be difficult to attend stand up shows due to the atmosphere, though there are plenty of non-sober comedians who don’t rely on alcohol or drugs to get a laugh. Here are 5 Stand up comedians who have been on the sober wagon for years now.
“It’s that feeling—the numbing bliss of self-medication—that makes people become drug addicts. Lots of people get high; only some become addicts. It’s not the getting high that makes you an addict, it’s what the getting high does for you. If you start low and you get high, you make it up to normal for the first time. Getting loaded feels good; but if it’s the first thing that’s ever felt good in your life, you’re in trouble. That’s what I chased. It wasn’t the high, it was the feeling that I was all right.”
Moshe Kasher is a stand up comedian who’s appeared on Conan and Chelsea Lately, starred in his own Comedy Central special, and released a memoir entitled “Kasher in the Rye”. Kasher’s story is unusual in that his history with drugs and alcohol began and ended while a teenager. His childhood alternated between being raised by his feminist mother and grandmother in Oakland as one of the few white kids in his school and living with his strict, Jewish dad in Brooklyn. Before the age of 16, Kasher was a drug addict and mental patient who had been in trouble with the law multiple times. At the age of 16, Kasher took a step back and left rehab with the goal of staying sober. Kasher credits continual 12 Step Meetings for his successful sobriety today. Kasher’s stand up is anything but an “act”, as he is willing to go and discuss just about anything
“I could definitely not have seen, between the podcast, and then the show, how it would help people feel less alone, or help them cope, or drive them toward changing their life or toward recovery. I never anticipated that, and that’s pretty amazing to me. I’m really grateful for that. It helps my sobriety, and it makes me feel like I’m doing something positive in the world.”
Comedian Marc Maron is known for his podcast “WTF with Marc Maron”, where he openly and honestly discusses a range topics with celebrities and comedians. A long time stand up, he has also landed appearances on multiple TV series, movies, and has starred in his own TV show, called “Maron”. Maron has been frank about his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction as well as with depression and anxiety. Today, Maron celebrates more than 19 years of sobriety. Maron has been in rehab multiple times but credits his work in those programs along with regular 12 Step meetings for helping keep him sober and sane.
“As an Irish kid with very poor impulse control, my alcohol train is a one-stop express that leaves Sober Station and arrives hours later at Fiasco Junction. I can honestly not remember one time in my life where I had a few drinks and relaxed. I can only remember times when I had a few drinks, then had a few more drinks, then had a few more drinks, and then everyone else was unable to relax.”
Chris Gethard is a long time comedian, actor, director and producer as well as the star, unsurprisingly, of the Chris Gethard Show. After a long battle with binge drinking and alcoholism in his teenage and college years, Chris decided to call it quits and has never touched a drop of alcohol since the age of 22. His stories of drinking include getting blacked out and smashing his face into a granite countertop, blacking out and smashing his face into bathroom tiles, and blacking out and jumping on top of parked cars in a Batman mask. Today, Gethard is a proponent of taking his prescription meds to treat his own issues with anxiety, depression, and impulse control, and even wrote an article for Vice in 2013, “Why I Love My Meds,” about the pluses and minuses of various drugs that have been prescribed to him.
“I don’t remember my very first AA meeting, but I do know that I didn’t mess around when it came to working the program. To my relief, there was a recipe, rules to follow called the 12 Steps of AA. We all know how I love me some rules. I was no fan of the gray area. So I got the Big Book, I got busy, and I worked all twelve steps in about an hour and a half and said, “Okay, I’m ready to do some service.”
Jane Lynch is a famous comedian known for her roles in Glee, Role Models, Wreck-It-Ralph, Two and a Half Men, and more. The actress and comedian has won numerous Emmy’s and is among the most renown female comics in the industry. In her memoir Happy Accidents, Lynch recalls times when she drank to excess regularly, smoked weed, and abused cold medicine. At the age of 31 years old, Lynch realized she had enough and decided to start attending 12 Step meetings. She became a big advocate and has remained sober to this day.
“I have a unique experience because I got a lot of success and notoriety and my thing was I wanted to get sober to keep those things. I could feel my relationship to alcohol getting away from me and not being workable anymore. I don’t preach about it because that’s not funny. I talk about how shitty it is to be sober. Plus my jokes are really good.”
Alice Wetterlund has been in stand up comedy and acting for almost a decade, but it wasn’t until recently that she realized she may have had a problem. A regular on MTV’s Girl Code, Silicon Valley, and recently a character in the film “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”. Wetterlund moved to LA after doing stand up in New York for four years and realized on the road that she was having trouble cutting back. Eventually she couldn’t take the constant hangovers and realized that she was relying on alcohol to get comfortable onstage. Alice made the decision to get sober in order to hone her comedy skills, look better, and feel better. Today, she still misses drinking but knows that her life is better without it.
There you have it! For more information about getting sober, treatment options for drug and alcohol addiction, or mental health resources, check out the rest of the Landmark Recovery blog.