RIOT's Jacqueline Novak Talks How To Weep In Public, Depression & John Early

Courtesy of Jacqueline Novak.
On RIOT's How To Weep In Public, guests join author and comedian Jacqueline Novak to talk about mental health experiences and concerns with a light, humorous flair. Novak's comedic style spills over into the series, where conversations about depression or self-harm are spoken about with reverence and respect, but with a funny edge. The show is a crash course in how to reclaim depression from being stigmatized in conversation.
How did you get involved with the show?
"Initially, I wanted to do a video series related to my book of the same name to support the launch. But when we started developing with Refinery29, we realized it was a real project of its own and that to do it right, it would not be done until after the book came out.

"My good friend, comedic genius John Early, loves the book and had a very clear vision that we should create a series of me in long, winding conversations — my natural tangential way — with cool people about mental stuff. [His idea was to] then cut the conversations way down for a taut series. I was delighted to have someone with a clear vision, because I had been so mired in the depression material while working on the book."

The set design is beautiful. Did you have any creative input on it?
"John and I developed the look and style based on my fear of romanticizing depression. Instead of trying to shy away from that, we decided to lean in further and go whole-hog. I thought, Let's have very frank convos on mental stuff and depression but look amazing and be on chaises. Lena addresses it in the first episode very well."

What kind of feedback have you gotten from viewers or fans?
"The feedback has been amazing. People love 'real talk,' ha!

"People keep asking if the furs [Lena Dunham and I] wore were fake. Lena's definitely was — she told me the brand, but I forgot it. Mine was from a costumer and I assume it was fake, but can't be sure."

I thought, 'Let's have very frank convos on mental stuff and depression but look amazing and be on chaises.'

Jacqueline Novak
Who would be a dream guest for you to speak to on the show?
"Dick Cavett."

Are there specific misconceptions about depression or mental health that you’re trying to destigmatize in the show?
"There are many misconceptions about depression. If I were to try to address them all directly in society, I would get very frustrated. I've actually had to let go a bit of the struggle to make people understand.

"There's also the added layer of there being a lack of consensus among experts who admit depression is a pathology, but don't agree on causes or treatment. [It's a] total shit show. I just felt that, in trying to speak honestly from my perspective, the people who need it will find it or enjoy it."

Have you ever had trouble getting people (on or off the show) to engage with you about mental health with the same level of candidness and humor that you have?
"The people we invited to be on show that we knew would be up for the discussion, so that wasn't an issue. Off the show, I follow people's leads and don't insist on being hilarious about depression all the time. I follow people's leads when they're talking about their experiences."


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