FringeNYC, New York International Fringe Festival, Best Shows at FringeNYC, Best Fringe Shows, Fringe 2014

Claybear types from the heart is launched! Go snoop around for awhile! Or read this:

In late 2012, I went into the throes of a yearlong major depressive episode, an episode I am still recovering from, but thankfully have largely under control. During the worst days of this episode, I did all the fun things depressed people do, which is not much! Crying, sleeping, vomiting, panic attacks. Super casual! It was, as many of you know, the hardest and scariest year of my life to date, and there were many times I never thought it would get any better. If you are ever given the choice of having a major depressive disorder or not having a major depressive disorder, I recommend choosing against it. 

But at some point, after countless therapy sessions and going on medication, I realized that things HAD gotten better. Not in the way that I expected, but better nonetheless! Furthermore, I realized that I was constantly reflecting and sharing my story of this journey with anyone who would hear it. I would literally tell baristas in coffee shops, “yeah, I have depression… oh sorry that was a venti, not a grande.” I would strike up conversations with strangers on the subway about what it’s like to move on from your first love, which was one of the precipitating factors of my version of clinical depression.

Sharing these stories was and still is immensely therapeutic and healing for me. And I found out that many people had stories that were very similar to my own. Finally, when looked at from a certain vantage point, I realized that many of these stories were actually… quite funny.

So naturally, I decided this would all make for a good thing to write a comedy show about.

My one-man show, SMILE, is coming to The NYC Fringe Festival in August. It is the culmination of a year’s work, and a life lived, both artistically and personally, and I am so so proud of how far it has come.

SMILE is directed by the wonderful and talented Jeff and Rick Kuperman, who gave me extreme emotional support and were so incredibly generous to take a chance on me. We’ve spent hours in the rehearsal room writing jokes, making the play, and just having long conversations about being happy and being human. It features the voice talents of Doug Shapiro, Becca Foresman, Catherine Cohen, and Miyuki Miyagi. The website art was provided by Jon Lavalley.

Its themes were developed in long conversations with dear friends, like Jonathan Weed, Kevin Laskey, Sarah Bartley, Sara Shaw, Luke Bradford, David Allen, Anya Price, Joey Ebb, Becca Cheney, and the rest of the crew of Barrel Me II. Valuable input on the show was provided by wonderful funny people like Rachael Mason, Geoff Garlock, Dan Abromowitz, Halcyon Person, and many members of my beloved Quipfire! Improv Comedy. 

Finally, my family provided me with lots of emotional support in the darkest days – Jane Steed Raithel, Jim Raithel, Ashley Soulshine, Jessica Raithel, Kelsey Kate Raithel, and Colton Raithel. 

And there are countless others who pushed me along the way, too.

For better or worse (I think for better), this show is as much theirs as it is mine. 

SMILE is the most satisfying and fulfilling artistic project I’ve ever worked on, despite any shortcomings it likely has. 

I would love for you to come see this show at the Fringe Festival. Let’s all get together in a room and be vulnerable with each other for awhile.