Pre-thinking:

What was his experience like in the psychiatric ward? How did it influence the way he characterizes emotional disturbance? Think about why people who act “differently” could be seen as a threat to society. Besides being helpful for a comedian, can you think of other occupations that might be enhanced by mania or a bi-polar condition?

Why you should listen:

His eclectic combination of performance disciplines and activity as an educator in mental health has given Walters a national platform and audience. In 2002, Walters co-founded the DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) Young Adults Chapter in San Francisco, one of the few support groups specifically for mentally ill young adults in the country. As a facilitator, Walters developed humor to address the subject of mental illness, reframing it as a positive. Walters speaks as a mental health educator and has engaged in mental health advocacy at conventions and in classrooms nationwide.

Who is he:

Joshua Walters is a comedian, poet, educator and performer. He incorporates elements of spoken word and beatbox into his shows in a mash-up of comedy, intimate reflection and unpredictable antics. In the last two years, Walters has performed at theaters and universities throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East.

Questions:

  1. Instead of mental illness, why does Walters think of it as mental skillness?
  1. What do Christopher Columbus, Steve Jobs, and Mozart have in common?
  1. Indicate what it means to be “just manic enough”?
  1. He says that there is no such thing as mental illness (being crazy); it is just that some people are more sensitive than others. Write a defense for one side of this argument or the other and share your views with someone else. Ask them to agree or disagree with you and tell you why.

On being just crazy enough with Joshua Walters

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