Comics and Massachusetts natives Alyssa Limperis and May Wilkerson open each episode of their new Crazy; in Bed podcast with a sunny, retro theme song that declares “Alyssa and May are messed in the head” so that listeners know what they’re in for: frank discussions of mental health with a generous helping of humor. The show launches in mid-December, but before the funnywomen hit earbuds everywhere, they chatted about mining trauma for comedy gold.
What was your inspiration for starting the podcast?
Alyssa: We felt that there was a lot of room for comedy within mental health and grief and pain. We both were able to find the comedy in it and we wanted to share that with other people.
May: Also for me, when I was going through early addiction recovery and first getting into comedy and going through a hard time, I found podcasts really helpful because I could listen to people that had similar stories. I found that they got me through a dark time. And we hoped that our podcast might help other people.
What kind of guests are you interviewing?
Alyssa: People so much cooler and better than us. [Both laugh.]
May: People who actually know things and have their lives together in a certain way, who’ve developed tools to deal with a lot of what they’re going through.
Alyssa: We have a range of people. We have comedians but we’re also having doctors, journalists and writers and people in the fashion industry. Everyone’s got demons that they’ve worked through so we’re exploring all those demons in different fields.
How would you describe the tone of the show?
May: We don’t take ourselves seriously at all but we take each other seriously. So we try to tread that line between respecting what we’ve been through and having earnest discussions about it, but also being goofballs. We tend to go back and forth. So, it’s heavy and sad. But also lighthearted and funny.
Alyssa: We never finish an episode feeling depleted. We end up feeling energized, even if we talked about anorexia and bulimia for an hour. We will still leave thinking something like, “Oh wow, that was a great bit that we did in there.”
May: Yeah. Like, “That was so much fun! Laughing about all those times that I used to puke up my food!” It’s so dark and heavy, but we have to be able to laugh about it because it’s liberating.
Alyssa: Between May and I, we’ve each dealt with a lot of different types of mental illness. … We are coming at it from a self-deprecating point of view, so it never feels like we’re laughing at someone else’s pain. But we’re able to laugh at it because we’ve been through it.
When did you both decide to get into comedy?
May: The first time that I saw standup I was 19 or 20 and I was like “I don’t know why, but that’s what I gotta do. I wanna do that.”
Alyssa: I used to do sketch comedy as a kid with my dad. We would do really bad sketches. I remember we came in last place in a sketch comedy contest and that still didn’t drive me away. I did improv in college and then I got to New York and I started doing improv and I wasn’t loving it. And then I found standup and I remember being like, “This is it. These are my people.”
Have you ever bombed in front of an audience? How do you pick yourself up from that?
Alyssa: On the count of three we can say the answer: One, two, three.
Both: Yes! [Both laugh.]
May: Many times. Audiences of all sizes. Sometimes it’s the barista at my cafe. This morning I tried to joke around with my neighbor and she was just like, “What are you doing? Why are you talking to me?” I have bombed. And how do I pick myself up? Well, I’m still trying to figure that out. A lot of times I’ll call Alyssa after a really bad set and she’ll talk me off a ledge and remind me that this is part of the craft. It’s not always going to go well.
Alyssa: I have bombed so often and I feel the same way. I’ve called May, and we have a quick panic about how bad it feels. Then we just remind each other that it’s one show. It gets easier the more you do it. At first it feels very personal, like “Oh, I’m not funny or I’m bad. Then you realize it’s just part of it. Part of the thing we love is to go up in front of a crowd of people completely mortified.