Born into a biracial family, Collin quickly realized he had to embrace diversity or go crazy. Choosing the former (the jury’s still out on the crazy part), he learned to make fun of his differences while developing a unique brand of standup. Collin’s...
Born into a biracial family, Collin quickly realized he had to embrace diversity or go crazy. Choosing the former (the jury’s still out on the crazy part), he learned to make fun of his differences while developing a unique brand of standup. Collin’s humor manages to artfully touch on areas usually considered taboo, letting him cover topics that most are afraid to tackle. His level of skill led to the honor of being selected for TEDxSaltLakeCity 2018 as the expert to speak on comedy.
Since hitting his first open mic at Seattle’s Comedy Underground when he was barely 17, Collin has come a long way. His unique adoption of dark comedy has allowed him to perform across North America and Europe at clubs, colleges, and even a stadium. His humor proves irresistible to audiences, earning him a position as Niantic’s lead live broadcaster for 2016, as well as a nomination as one of Utah’s top comedians, and various other accolades.
Whether talking at the Capitol as a featured speaker at the “Walk of No Shame” against sexual assault, or on the stage at Kingsbury Hall discussing joking about trauma, Collin uses over a decade of experience as a nationally touring standup comedian to make the audience laugh, uplifting and inspiring even when talking about even some of the darkest and most controversial topics.
His current nationally touring comedy show discusses his personal experiences as a sexual assault and suicide survivor in a way that made The Daily Utah Chronicle Say “All of us loved it.”. And the owner of the WIP theater in Chicago highly recommends it saying “Collin’s show is one of the best dark comedy shows you’ll ever see”
Paul & I had a very serious discussion on depression & suicide in the comedy community. Collin was able to give some statistics that are staggering. This episode is important.
Get all the info on Collin Williams here:
Check out Collin’s Tedx Talk “How Comedy Can Save Someone’s Life”
Collin talked about Peer Support Space as great resource for people who need mental health assistance:
I talked with Chris Klemmer from Quantum Week Podcast at the start of the episode. Chris & his partner, Matt do a great job talking about the top movies, music, & news from a particular week. This is a great show and highly recommended. Check out on all the apps and here:
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[00:00:00] Collin Williams: [00:00:00] Welcome to the behind the bits podcast, your hosts, Scott Curtis wants to learn everything he can about standup comedy and take you along for the ride. Scott and his guests talk serious about comedy and every episode behind the bets, we'll uncover knowledge from different perspectives on subjects, such as writing and performing standup comedy, as well as booking shows and the comedy life.
If you're thinking about becoming a stand-up comic. Already in the combat game or a comedy nerd behind the bits is the show for you. Now let's get behind the bits.
Scott Curtis: [00:00:51] Hey, BTB buddies. I'm always looking for great independent podcasts. You know, that quantum week is one of those podcasts. I've got Chris from quantum week [00:01:00] here to tell you all about it, Chris, how you doing? Good, Scott. Thanks so much for having me, Chris. I found your podcast. I absolutely love the premise. I don't know if anybody else is doing this promise, but if they are, I don't think they're doing it as well as you and Matt.
I mean, you, you guys are really rocking it. So tell me about the premise and what it's all about first.
Chris Klemmer: [00:01:24] Yeah. So quantum week, does we take a random week, uh, in the last it's the last 41 years? And we talk, uh, random movies, music, headlines, any of that kind of happened that week. The primary focus of our show though is probably the movies and the music.
Um, or for instance, this week we're in 1986 on a case seven, excuse me. So we're covering like Spaceballs predator. Uh, the Dragnet movie with Tom Hanks and Dan Akroyd. So, uh, but we're also covering songs like from Bon Jovi or Whitney Houston. So, um, yeah, it's fun. So every week we go to obviously a different, a different weekend in the last 41 years and, uh, and we, [00:02:00] we review those movies.
Scott Curtis: [00:02:01] how did you come up with this concept?
Chris Klemmer: [00:02:04] Yeah, I I'm obsessed with time. Um, Oh, quantum leap when I was a kid and in the premise, that show was that he would go to a different, uh, dates in his lifetime. And, um, you'd have to like save the world or save certain L music. It was more of an action theme thing.
Obviously we're not, not saving anybody in our show. Uh, but, uh, but I liked the idea and I love movies. Uh, I'm a big movie nerd and my co-host Matt is a big music guy because music and different areas of music. So, um, Uh, we were talking, uh, I'm in New Hampshire. We were talking at a restaurant in New Hampshire and like, let's just kind of merge our, our, uh, things we both enjoy.
And, uh, and quantum, we just kind of worked and, uh, we've kind of used the runaway that we've been having a blast doing it the last year.
Scott Curtis: [00:02:49] Yeah, I really like what you guys do with it. I guess the thing that I like the most is that you're prepared and you actually watch the movie. So I got to say, I mean, you're [00:03:00] doing 87 and Spaceballs was your first movie for this week.
And I told you, before we started recording, I was kind of pissed at you for not liking the Spaceballs. And then I thought about it. You know, it's been that many years since I. I watched Spaceballs and it's probably that bad. So, so I'm not mad now.
Chris Klemmer: [00:03:20] Terrible. It's not like as bad as say, like Willow or Alvin and chipmunks, and try to think of some of the worst movies we've covered.
Battlefield earth is a terrible one, so it's not that bad. Um, but it's, I just think it was Mel Brooks, just like pulling punches and, you know, I know you're a big comedy guy, obviously, Scott, when it comes like with the producers were closing saddles, like no Brooks, who's just, you know, Throwing haymakers.
And with the Spaceballs, he took a little, you know, quite a bit off the fast ball and it.
Collin Williams: [00:03:48] If that works. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:03:50] I th I think you're right. And I mean, it had a lot of great gags and like you said, brick Maraniss was great. And John candy was great. The rest of it, eh, it [00:04:00] was, it was just, it was just basically a movie put together so he could put gags into it, whereas not much of a story
Chris Klemmer: [00:04:08] exactly.
That it wasn't my plot driven at all. And some of those John rubies aren't, I mean, naked gun or, uh, you know, airplane are just thrown in there for just gags, but. I mean, those two movies, those gags work better than this one. Anyway, blazing saddles, I guess he's just basically spoofing a Western new young Frankenstein.
He's spoofing the horror. Yeah. But I think those movies, I feel like had a bit more edge, even though they're older. Like, and I think this one, but we talked about the show and, you know, star Wars is a kid's movie. I mean, you know, it really is. It's designed for children. I enjoy it. It's one of my favorite movies, but if it's a kid's movie.
Maybe this is kind of a genre, a spoof movie for kids. Who's a comedy for kids when I was a kid. Yeah. Yeah. It was the intended audience.
Collin Williams: [00:04:51] Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:04:52] And I think that where he missed the boat, there was most of his other movies. The characters were a little bit more sympathetic. I [00:05:00] mean, you really kind of liked him.
And in Spaceballs, there was a, it was kind of like, eh, you don't care if they die. It's okay. Except for John candy. Hey,
Chris Klemmer: [00:05:10] John candy are so good. I know Miranda's is the bad guy there, so you're kind of rooting for him to fail, but he's there so great screen. Um, Like, and, you know, Miranda's of course isn't Ghostbusters, one of the greatest comedies of the eighties and John Candy's in planes, trains and automobiles, another one of the greatest common disease.
So it certainly those two guys really kind of elevated this movie probably better than it should have been. But yeah, I mean, John Candy's, I mean, he's the kind of guy that you see him on screen. You can't help it root for him. Yeah, John Courtney could play Stalin in a movie, you know, he wasn't half bad.
Scott Curtis: [00:05:41] See, that's what I like about you because you really get into it. And the conversation between you and Matt just gets so animated and there's personality there. I mean, that's, that's really what I like about it, because you could do a podcast like this and say, okay, yeah, [00:06:00] Spaceballs. Uh, I liked it. I didn't like it.
And, um, Whitney Houston's, uh, I wanna dance with somebody that's all right. And then just, you know, really just make it, uh, okay. We're going through the calendar and telling you what's going on this particular year. You guys really discuss it. All the way, all the way through. And I love
Chris Klemmer: [00:06:22] that is a big part of it, especially for us.
So like I grew up watching Cisco in Hebrew. That guy was one of my favorite shows growing up as a kid. And yeah, I love the critiques and the movies. And I still read Roger stuff daily. I, you go to this website, the database, it's all still there and then read reviews. They hold up. Um, but uh, why, the reason I'd like to show is I liked the dynamic between, you know, Roger EG and Cisco, they would fight, they would argue about.
Uh, stuff they would, they would not necessarily always get along. Um, and that was an AMEC I really love then that's what, you know, ideally we do on the show is that max a very different person than I am. Um, so a lot of times we will disagree on something and, you know, we'll, we'll bicker [00:07:00] back and forth.
Then it's, it's fun where we're both comfortable enough to do that. Um, Uh, you know, there hasn't been like any explosive thing where we're not going to do the show anymore. Like we're able to fight on, on Mike and still be able to like, you know, do the show the next day. You know, people aren't holding grudges.
I don't think at least not yet, maybe next year. So
Scott Curtis: [00:07:18] which one's more active though.
Chris Klemmer: [00:07:21] I mean, I'm probably more frantic by nature. Um, you know, I'm from New York, so it was a little bit of that element or, you know, Mattson, New Hampshire guy. So, um, Yeah, it's matched probably more even keeled about certainly, but Matt is, I think more stubborn than I am that can have a different divide to where, uh, you know, like, and he has kind of an odd way look in the world.
Like he, uh, we were talking because somebody who's just. The episodes will branch off a bit. Uh, and we were talking to Whitney Houston and then going into a boy meets world discussion. And he had never heard of this show, boy meets world. And I just found that to be like, totally bizarre. Uh, so like we'll have some of those tangents like that where, um, if [00:08:00] one of us discover something on the other person, we definitely don't like gloss over it.
We try to ignore it and. In my case, I like to exploit it. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:08:06] Right. No doubt. So have you found, I mean, you're obviously going back two years before you were born and, uh, I think midnight.
Collin Williams: [00:08:15] I'm 41.
Scott Curtis: [00:08:16] Okay. So you go right back to 69 then. Okay. 79.
Chris Klemmer: [00:08:21] Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, I go all the way back to November 79 is when I was born.
Um, so that's as far back as we can go, cause those are the rules in quantum leap. Um, so I'd also honestly create a world where then we could talk about movies where people. I have a general now. I mean, people know movies in the seventies, but if you try to find them on streaming, it was before VHS. So it's hard to find it's a lot harder to find movies before I was born.
Just because of the nature of VCRs and
Scott Curtis: [00:08:47] cable, right? Yeah, no doubt. So, I mean, you're really young looking 41. Damn it
Chris Klemmer: [00:08:54] kids. Uh,
Scott Curtis: [00:08:57] so one of the things [00:09:00] that, uh, I like about meeting. New comics is I always learn something. Did you go back and find a movie that either you watched it and you were kind of iffy about it and you wash it again and you really loved it or found a movie that you'd never watched that really just blew your mind and you absolutely loved.
Chris Klemmer: [00:09:19] Yeah. There are two that fall into that latter category. So Moonstruck. And the fly there's all these both came out in the late eighties. I was a little kid and I was eight, nine years old. Uh, I, and I might've saw, like I saw the fly on cable on HBO, but it didn't really resonate, you know? And then when I, I watched it as a 41 year old, I was like, Oh, this is a, this is a really good movie.
This is there's a lot going on. And it's not just a horror movie with great performances. I go, boom and Davis. This is a really good movie that talks about aging and dying and BB terminal illness. And might even have some like AIDS. Parallels there there's a lot of like different layers of that movie.
Cause Cronenberg, the director is phenomenal. Yeah. But that movie has a lot going on. Um, and [00:10:00] Moonstruck, I just, I, I had never seen it. Um, and I was sharing Nicholas cage and there's some fun performances and that was a movie that was better than I thought on the flip side, like we did 12 monkeys and the prestige was a both movies that I loved the first time I saw them.
But once you kind of know the hook. When you see them in multiple viewings, it doesn't quite have the same punch. So I didn't quite enjoy those as much as I had the first time I've seen. Yeah. I've,
Scott Curtis: [00:10:24] I've gone through that a little bit. Myself. How about music? Did you get, did you find any music that you had either passed over or you didn't like when you were younger?
Chris Klemmer: [00:10:31] Yeah, I can still call-ins. Um, which is funny, it's still Collins has this like rep now kind of being kind of corny, like in the air tonight and some of this stuff, but I, we went through that, um, uh, one of his albums in, in the mid eighties, uh, I think he was a star. So, um, and it was much better than I thought I still wasn't.
It's like in my playlist now, and I wouldn't have discovered if we hadn't done this show. Um, and that's kinda what I was hoping when we started this show is I would find newer music or newer movies that I hadn't. Just had the time to watch, um, [00:11:00] most of the movies, I won't say we've had or movies that I've been familiar with, but, uh, when we have those like uncovered gems, that's like, those are like my favorite weeks.
Scott Curtis: [00:11:08] So when you're watching a really shitty movie that you just absolutely hate, does it feel like homework?
Collin Williams: [00:11:13] Oh, it's
Chris Klemmer: [00:11:15] so I'll try to capture that anger, like in a bottle and I try to bring it on, like we did, um, Like battlefield earth was terrible. Um, what's the movie we just did. Oh, the Indiana Jones we just did with the crystal skull.
The last one when he's like 68. It is so horrible. I was so pissed off. I was, cause it ruins, it kind of ruins India in a way. You can't watch those movies quite the same way. I mean, You can still enjoy temple to doom. It's still a great movie Raiders of the lost Ark is still great, but there's an element where you kind of still remember like him being in the fridgerator or Shiloh, booth being annoying.
And you're like, wait a second. They made that movie. He's horrible. Um, so yeah, there's things that, uh, there are some movies that are just [00:12:00] brutal because you're the rules of what we go by is that we'll pick a week at random. My wife has a date generator and she picks a week and we do that week. And whatever movie was, number one we have to do.
And then we can do I'm in the top 10. Uh, I can pick two movies in the top 10 cause we do three shows a week. Yeah. Two are on our regular and one's on our Patrion. Uh, so, uh, the number one will be, I have to do so one week it was Alvin. The chipmunks with Jason that will be, was horrible. It was awful. It was so bad.
And you're like, I'm sitting there and you're like, you're wondering, what am I doing with my life? Why am I even doing this podcast? It's a war crime. This isn't a movie. It was terrible.
Scott Curtis: [00:12:37] One of the things I really like, and I'm getting it right here is your passion. I mean, you guys went into this podcast quantum week doing it.
Right. And I know you guys. Must've put some planning into it and Hey, we're going to make sure we do this right. And I really appreciate that because, I mean, I'm sure you listened to podcasts and not all of them are that great. You guys really just jumped off the phone at [00:13:00] me. And I was just like, Holy cow, this is the best thing ever.
Chris Klemmer: [00:13:02] We try to have fun. I, so I like your podcast a lot. I want to talk a little comedy with you. And I'm a comedy during myself. My favorite comedy room I've ever been to, uh, is the comedy cellar in New York.
Scott Curtis: [00:13:14] Oh, see, I've never been a, yeah,
Chris Klemmer: [00:13:19] you cannot say enough. Good stuff. So I, uh, I was at the cellar one night.
I would go, I was living in New York between 2012 and 2016. Uh, and how the seller works is the showcase. Um, what's your audience probably knows it's a, they'll have like, you know, eight or 10 comics each you about 10 minutes each. Um, and, uh, you, but they'll have Coppin guests, so they'll have a list. And then, but, you know, surprise guests popping all the time.
Like Jim Norton was there every time I went, Colin Quinn would pop in a bunch. So one day I'm sitting there and, um, Uh, th the kid comes up and he was, you could tell he was old Ikea, just like, uh, seen a murder or something. He's wanting to ghost the host. He's like, we have a very special guest. It's Jerry Seinfeld, and I am a huge [00:14:00] Seinfeld guy.
Um, and I, I almost pissed myself and he walked by and how the celery is. You've got comedy rows. They're all so small. And the seller is tiny. I mean, If you've seen episodes of Louie, you know, how small it is and he walks by and he does this set. I, I'm not a big star struck guy. I was completely star struck and I don't remember like two thirds of his jokes.
And as he's reading. He has to like, basically go like right in front of you. And I've walked by a cooker, such a small space. And I go, Jerry, Jerry, thank you so much. He goes, no thank you. Greatest moment of my life. I need to be, after I said it was the greatest thing in the world. But I, I love comedy. I love, I love
Collin Williams: [00:14:40] your, where are you out of sky?
Scott Curtis: [00:14:41] I'm actually in Northern Indiana. I'm almost to the Michigan line. So Midwest boy.
Chris Klemmer: [00:14:47] Very cool. Yeah. Um, I don't know, w I, I'm not familiar with that country part of the country, really at all. I mean, I'm a total East coast guy. Um, but, uh, I'm hope you guys have some good comedy rooms there.
Scott Curtis: [00:14:56] Cause . We're close to Chicago, so they've got [00:15:00] great.
Chris Klemmer: [00:15:01] Oh, they have great. Yeah. I'm dying to go to Chicago, met in cop guy too. So I won't know that yet.
Scott Curtis: [00:15:06] Yeah. As far as quantum weight goes, how can people find you on the interwebs and on all the apps?
Chris Klemmer: [00:15:14] Yeah. You were pretty much anywhere you, uh, you know, download, uh, This Scott's podcast, you can download ours.
It's quantum week. Uh, we have a website quantum-week.com and we have a Patrion as well. That's really, if you're looking for kind of like a third show a week, so if you listen, you're a big fan. We do have almost a hundred shows or we're doing our Honduras show next week. Um, so, um, there's plenty of content right there, but if you need more, you can go to patron, of course.
But, uh, yeah, we have, and you can kind of jump around, like if you're new, you're like, I'm not really, I don't really know the movies they're doing this vigor. I don't want to start at episode one, you can pretty much pop in and out anywhere and get an idea for what we're doing. And then, um, you know, we do tell personal stories in, uh, in the each episode, but those stories are related to that week.
So you can really kind of jump around and just like we're doing so you see a movie you're really passionate about. I would recommend starting there.
[00:16:00] Scott Curtis: [00:16:00] Yeah. I feel like I'm getting invested in your lives because you do the personal stuff. So, you know, here I am. I'm, I'm your neighbor and I know what's going on.
So that's pretty
Chris Klemmer: [00:16:09] cool, right? Yeah. It's nice to know that there's a, you know, thousands and thousands of strangers that knew about my past. It's not creepy at
Collin Williams: [00:16:15] all, Scott.
Scott Curtis: [00:16:18] Hey, I got the same thing. People act like they know me, so
Collin Williams: [00:16:21] yeah, it's weird. Yeah.
Chris Klemmer: [00:16:23] But thanks so much for having me, Scott, it's been a pleasure.
And I said, I genuinely enjoy your show. I'm a big comedy guy. And, uh, the behind the scenes stuff with the stand-up is grand.
Scott Curtis: [00:16:31] Great. I appreciate that. So folks, make sure you check out quantum week, just type out quantum week in the podcast app, it does come up very easily. Some podcasts. I like don't come up very easily, but it's right there.
Subscribe and listen to a couple episodes of movies that you know, and you like and get their take on it. And then just start listening because all of them are great. You guys put in a lot of great effort and it was just a fantastic show. Thanks so [00:17:00] much, Scott. I appreciate it. Yeah. Thanks for being on.
Hey BTB buddies. I found another great podcast for you. It's called standby for places. Take old time radio shows and replaced the Jack Benny show with some of the greatest plays of all time. And you get standby for places. The team at standby for places doesn't just get regular people like me to read these plays.
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You know what I'm going to say here? It's a good one. My guest today is Collin Williams. He is a nationally Turner touring comedian and a TEDx selected speaker on comedy. His Ted talk, how joking about suicide can save someone's life has been seen by thousands of years, and Collin is also a Niantic lead live broadcaster, uh, think Pokemon.
So, um, that's something I want to get into a little bit, but, uh, uh, let's bring him out now. It is Colin Williams. Hey, Collin, how are you?
Collin Williams: [00:18:43] Good to talk to you today to be here. Hopefully we should be able to discuss some of the, some of the big secrets about mental health and comedy that really hasn't been discussed anywhere
Scott Curtis: [00:18:51] else.
Yeah, that's exactly what I wanted to talk about. I I've actually had a couple of interviews that went down that road and, uh, [00:19:00] it's definitely, you know, and I know because we're in the business that, uh, Everybody, who does comedy has something wrong with them. And, uh, and, uh, it doesn't matter what it is a lot of it's depression, but, uh, there there's other things too.
And, uh, a lot of people, a lot of people talk to it like one-on-one, but it never gets to be a big conversation. So this is great to talk about that. Let's get into this. Uh, first of all, where are you from?
Collin Williams: [00:19:33] So I'm originally from Portland, Oregon, and then I end up moving out and starting comedy in salt Lake city, Utah, which I think we all know when you think comedy, you think salt Lake city, Utah?
Scott Curtis: [00:19:41] I do. I do. Yeah.
Collin Williams: [00:19:44] Yeah. That used to be a joke. But now drive our comedy tapes in Provo, Utah, Provo, Utah become this weird hub of comedy. You would not expect whatsoever.
Scott Curtis: [00:19:53] Yeah, no doubt. Um, so you, you've got your home there in Utah. Let's talk about your [00:20:00] start in the stand up. I, uh, did a little reading and I know you started young, but let's talk about that first time you did stand up.
Why did you do it and how did it go for you?
Collin Williams: [00:20:10] I wanted to impress a girl. Um, as, as I think that's most men's motivations for almost anything. That's why we do half of our things. We're like, Oh, there's a hot chick. So I started out in high school, not planning on doing standup. And my drama teacher had all the things she called comedy Friday, uh, where she'd play like Disney movies with like incredible.
Comedy stuff. And at the beginning she said, you know, if anyone wants to do, uh, tell some jokes, then you know, you can come up and tell some jokes. And I had just watched some, uh, some standup the night before on comedy central sometime I was Tom Cotter specifically. And so I told some, some jokes and as a reference for anyone who doesn't, for some reason, though, you do not tell other comedians jokes on stage.
Uh, it took away from that never happened professionally. It's kind of this weird, uh, little, little, uh, exception. Yeah. When you're like a high schooler or like when you're a kid in school, like, you know, there's, I think Sinbad said that he [00:21:00] used to go up and pair it to bill Cosby's material. That that's, that's the thing that that's a statement of age as well, Sinbad and bill Cosby, you know, that's a great statement, but, uh, so I told some jokes and then I, I would come back, um, every two weeks and I would memorize a new 90 minutes of material.
And I would, I would do, uh, I would do entire every two weeks I would come back and I would do an hour and a half of, of, uh, of different comedy material. And so it gave me a chance to, without actually going to even open mikes or without going there, it gave me a chance to have a lot of time performing on stage, uh, with actually good materials so I could learn the performing part and then I'll start writing my own jokes and I would slip them in there.
And so by the time I actually hit an open mic when I was 17, I'd already had. Hours on stage, I'd already written material that had been tested. And so I was lucky enough that after it was three or four open mikes, I was doing book shows at a local
Scott Curtis: [00:21:54] club. Yeah, it's really cool. Now let's talk about memorizing an hour and a half a comedy.
Did you? [00:22:00] I, and this isn't, um, this isn't something I normally get into, but a memorization is hard for me because I'm a little lady D as well. Um, so. Did you have any, I mean, you were young, obviously your brain's a little bit more malleable. Yeah. My brain does not work
Collin Williams: [00:22:17] now it's gone.
Scott Curtis: [00:22:18] But thinking about the memorization, did you have a technique or anything that allowed you to do that or did you just read it a million times?
Collin Williams: [00:22:25] It was, I would, I would be watching over and over again. I would take notes. So I would have basically, it was a set list and I would make a note of whatever spark, the memory of that comic. So, I mean, you can't. Um, unless you have some sort of magical rain man comedy ask thing where you can just memorize 90 minutes every two weeks, you do have to have some sort of a liner notes.
Um, I obviously flubbed up a lot, but the nice thing is it's a high school class. So there's like really not, there's both pressure because it's the people, you know, that can then block you to rest of the week. If you mess up, it's like, it's basically. It's like playing a cruise [00:23:00] ship, right. Where like, Oh man, if I screw up, then I have to see these people all day.
But you know, it's also more forgiving because it's, there's, there's no ticket price. Uh, most of the people really just want to be like making out with their girlfriends in the back of class and didn't wanna, yeah. So yeah. Liner notes are fantastic. Yeah. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:23:19] Uh, and it was, it's nice to, uh, actually. I don't know if you had LPs or not, but if you have, if, if you actually had the album that's okay.
I didn't think so. Well,
Collin Williams: [00:23:32] I thought black didn't crack. Apparently I was wrong. Yeah. This has been a long past year. It's
Scott Curtis: [00:23:38] aged. Yeah, it sure has. It sure has. I'm only 25. Sorry,
Collin Williams: [00:23:45] looking good. I'm I'm 12. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:23:48] So let's talk about your influences. Obviously you must have liked stand up comedy who were some of your early influences.
Collin Williams: [00:23:55] one of the things I always find with people's influences, it's weird how it doesn't actually translate into their work. So, [00:24:00] Mitch Hedberg, I think is, is one of the most brilliant comics that we've been able to see in the past hundred years, um, hands down and I have nothing like his style and my ultimate work.
I want to become like Mitch. I want it to be able to perform like Mitch and I'm not at all that person, the person who would have been the biggest influence and who is one of the nicest guys, you have a chance to meet him is Christopher Titus. He is. Yeah. The master of writing a fantastically deep story with a through line and writing a lot of great content off of subjects that, you know, I think for our generation he's, he's the master.
I think the last person that was that good was like Richard Pryor of taking something that was this dark troubled thing. And obviously priors. You're going to be a little better than Titus. I'm not saying, uh, Titus has better than prior, but you know, we, each generation has that person. Right. And I think Tiny's owned that.
Um, Mike Birbiglia is another fantastic person. He, in his later work as a better influence on my recent work.
Scott Curtis: [00:24:56] Yeah. Yeah. He's a bird. The bird Biggs. I [00:25:00] absolutely love his later stuff. And, uh, Christopher Titus is extremely underrated. And it's funny how many comics I talked to the, he is one of their influences.
And, but yeah, I mean, it doesn't, I mean, he had a show and stuff like that, but it just doesn't, it doesn't translate to him being like, uh, uh, that well known and he probably should be.
Collin Williams: [00:25:27] Yeah. You talked to a lot of people he says, and that they don't necessarily know who he is and they, they should. Yeah. And I would say his work, if, if you haven't studied CRISPR diocese work, I feel like Norman Rockwell is bleeding in love as evil is the perfect kind of starter compendium of how to write a great story with a through line and have a story travel across shows and connect back.
But if you have a chance to see him live, he's probably one of the other great examples of how to deal with your audience. Um, post show. He will stick around for hours and he will sell it on emerge because of it. But he will [00:26:00] also, he will stay there. I've seen him stay three hours after a show to talk to people.
And most comics, you know, it's like, okay, you know, I want wanna let's let's leave, but what else are you doing? Yeah. What else are you doing that night? Yeah, you get it. Would you rather hang out with the comedy club waitstaff, which are fantastic people, but, uh, you know, those fans, that loyalty is going to help you long-term yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:26:21] Or go to your room and play X-Box or whatever. Yeah.
Collin Williams: [00:26:25] Or other things that you do at a hotel alone at nighttime.
Scott Curtis: [00:26:30] Um, it's funny, it's funny, you mentioned Norman Rockwell because I was just, um, uh, reading about, you know, W when you talk about race and Norman Rockwell, he's like the last person you would expect to be a painting about race and race relations.
And yet his painting, um, with the N word on it was outside of president Obama's, uh, door. And, Oh, I wonder
Collin Williams: [00:26:58] where you learned that [00:27:00] fact there's probably. You know, someone should have that in like a, an official, like talk on ted.com. They should mention that.
Scott Curtis: [00:27:09] And, uh, the Ted talk is on the Ted talk is on, uh, Ted, ted.com.
And I'm going to put a lot of links to that up when we put the podcast, I've already shared it a million times, but I'm going to put that out. But, uh, I wondered if you were going to catch that or not, obviously since it's your talk, you did.
Collin Williams: [00:27:27] I the amount of times I rewrote those drafts, there's no way I'm gonna miss anything.
And that talks to, if you go on ted.com and type in Collin Williams, two L's on the name, it'll, it'll pop it right up. Um, yeah. And, and that's yeah, Norman Rockwell was, um, just to jump off from that, I think was, is a great example of, you know, we have people like Christopher Titus that discuss these things that commonly aren't the topics you're supposed to talk about.
Norman Rockwell was covering something you wouldn't expect him to talk about, but the impact you can do. Um, uh, of these things that are supposedly taboo topics can [00:28:00] actually be very positive.
Scott Curtis: [00:28:02] Yeah. And he did it at a time when white people should have been doing it. And, and, and obviously this is a time where white people should still be doing it, but, um, They kind of need to step back and, um, just do what we're told right now, but, uh, the listening sessions.
Yeah. Yeah. But, uh, I it's, it's really neat that he did that. And, uh, when you, uh, when you brought that up, I actually read into it a little bit more because I thought that was a pretty cool fact that I didn't know. So that was, that was good. Um, one of the things I like to ask everybody, because I am. I'm a voracious consumer of media, usually reading, I read more than anything and I listened to a lot of audio books, but, um, I always like to ask people, are you reading, listening to music, listen to any podcasts, anything that is really, um, speaking to you and giving you [00:29:00] new ideas or making you feel better about the world.
Is there anything out there that's just really. Yeah. Yeah.
Collin Williams: [00:29:08] I think the only thing that makes me feel better about my world is my dog and prescription ketamine. Right now, this is a rough for people watching this later on. Remember that week, there was like an insurrection at the Capitol. Imagine being a Brown person in America that week, that's who I am.
So, you know, the dog and ketamine, but, uh, I always love learning. Same, same as you. It seems like there's a real passion for learning. And so I use, I'm not a big fan of chatting podcast. So one of the things I want to cover throughout this whole podcast is, is actually dropping knowledge that you haven't heard before.
I love chatting with people, but if I can tell you something that you've never heard before, and I guarantee you, there's gonna be some numbers, you have not heard that you'll that you'll want to know if you, if you're a comedy nerd. Um, but, uh, so there's. Um, I've been learning a lot about philosophy from philosophize.
This bill Nye has a podcast and he is a fantastic scientific communicator. Um, especially in our time right now, scientific education I think is important. So there's a policy or a [00:30:00] podcast called that debunks a lot of crazy conspiracy theories with Biblia graphical information. Cause I love a good reference.
You'll be able to back up what you say. Yeah. And there's nothing like someone would be like, this is a thing. And you're like, where's your proof? And they're like, I heard it from a meme. Yeah. I just posted the same parents that got angry at us for quoting Wikipedia are now like sharing folk clearly Photoshop means it's just blatant fact.
Yeah. So I'm like cite your sources, like an actual source. I'm not going to, I love a good, you know, uh, angry baby meme, you know, where's the, where's the research, where's the data,
Scott Curtis: [00:30:37] you know, it's funny, you mentioned, uh, actually, uh, not wanting a chatty podcast because I. I'm a, I'm a very impulsive person.
And I had done another podcast for about five years and I got serious about stand up. About a year ago. And I decided I wanted to do this podcast, [00:31:00] but I started listening to all the other comedy interview type podcasts. And I took out what I liked and what I didn't like. And the thing that I didn't like that was top of the list was small talk.
And, uh, I there's some hour long pod. Castle. It takes 15 minutes for him to get to the meat of the podcast. And that's one thing you won't have to worry about for me, for me, because I just get right
Collin Williams: [00:31:23] the weather right now. I think that's what we all want to know. You know, people listening years from now, we want to know what's.
How is your clouds? Do they look into that? Is it, are they Cumulus? Well,
Scott Curtis: [00:31:34] and then 15 minutes of inside jokes who, who wants to listen to that? I don't know. Let's talk top three, top three comedy album or special. What, what would you say are your favorites?
Collin Williams: [00:31:48] So Norman Rockwell is bleeding hands down. Watch that one from Christopher Titus.
Um, if, if you have to pick just one, that is it. Uh, and then second after that love is evil. Those [00:32:00] just watch those two in a row and then. Probably if I just kind of want to kick back and not have and have one of those just like really fun, just like not actually thinking about things, uh, but still great comedy.
Uh, Tommy, John, again, as a comic, most people don't know what Tommy, John against standup one, two or three, just, they're fantastic. He's one of the best comics that you have met that you probably have never heard of unless you're a comedy nerd.
Scott Curtis: [00:32:23] Yeah. And you know, it's funny a lot of comics, again, they talk about him as being one of the cool guys.
And yeah, and everybody says, you know, one of the nicest guys really fantastic, dude, Collin, do you have anything going on in these troubled times, uh, that you want to,
Collin Williams: [00:32:42] you know, during, during COVID not so much, uh, live, if you check out, uh, you know, comic Collins, C O M I C C O L L I N. I will use the update when I have a new project going on there.
I'm going to be working on some TV. Uh, so YouTube TV stuff. With another person in launching a couple of series myself. But for some reason, it's hard to [00:33:00] coordinate and get a bunch of people in a small room studio right. At the moment. So we're a little backlog, but that's going to be coming soon. Okay,
Scott Curtis: [00:33:08] great.
Collin Williams: [00:33:09] I was going to reference, it looked like a grid, like a, like a great daddy in the gay community. I'm not, I'm not good. I just want to give you that compliment. I want you to know that. I feel like if we were both in the gay community, but like, you'd be my daddy. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:33:22] That, that actually is a compliment. I, uh, I'm, I'm a big advocate.
So, uh, it's, that's a compliment. And one of the jokes I do is actually, um, So my wife and I have been together for 37 years. And I, I say, you know, how do you do that? And I said, well, I'm not into sports. I don't care about sports. I don't care about cars. I don't care about hunting or fishing. What I really like to do is get in bed with my boo and watch.
Project runway. So now I talk about reruns of project runway and because Tim, [00:34:00] Gunn's the only one that I liked from that show. So I talk about that and then I say, so how do you say. Stay together for so long. Well, basically I'm her gay roommate, so it just works. So
Collin Williams: [00:34:12] the way I do it, I was, I was asking some comics for advice.
Cause I had my first long-term relationship on the road and I was like, how do you, um, Kermit a PO had the best answer. Cause I was like, how do you handle being away from someone that you love? That long. Cause I was gone like five, six weeks and his response was, my wife says, the reason I'm gone is probably why we're still
Scott Curtis: [00:34:30] together.
Yeah. It's funny. This pandemic really tested us because we've been empty nesters for quite a while, but we've, we've always kind of done our own thing, uh, which. Allows for us to get some separation and we've been right on top of each other and the, and we're doing pretty good. Uh, we're disagreeing on some TV.
She doesn't like snow piers there. And I do. So, you know, what do you do?
Collin Williams: [00:34:56] That's a lot of, a lot of people are quickly finding right now that their conflict [00:35:00] resolution skills uh, aren't that great. And that's, uh, just diving into kind of the mental health thing. One of the things. Um, that we ignore, we ignore how to be good, right.
People to other people in ourselves so much. I think we're kind of finding, um, internally right now during this pandemic, whether you can communicate effectively whether or not you can solve problems effectively, you're learning a lot about your own mental health and how you deal with stress. A lot of people haven't had this level of stress before, right.
And so it's been interesting to see people kind of get this new understanding as someone who's had massive depression, all these issues for a long time. Right. You know, when people would ask me, how are you doing at the beginning of pandemic? I'm like, Oh, I'm fine. You guys know how I feel all the time now this is yeah.
Yeah. Welcome to my world. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:35:44] And it's very easy to get caught up in the inward focus to the point where you don't care what anybody else feels, because you're just so focused on your own problems. And that's such a good analogy. The, they [00:36:00] feel like. We feel all the time and, and, you know, obviously this exasperates, uh, uh, quite, quite a bit, but, uh, the facts that, uh, people are starting to get it, understand it.
Cause my wife never understood my depression because I have everything to be happy about and yet I'm depressed and, uh, she she's getting it now. Um, because I knew, I knew Saturday that she was okay. Not feeling it. And I said, okay, let's uh, where we live by Lake Michigan. Uh, and I said, let's go walk the beach.
So we went and watched walk the beach for a couple of hours and then she was better. So, you know, it that's one thing having it. You can recognize it too. And, uh, if you're not so inwardly focused, but yeah. Um, so. Yeah, I wanted to, I wanted to get into your background because, you know, obviously between the, um, the Ted talk and [00:37:00] suicide note, um, I mean there's a lot to unwrap there and you started doing the standup when you were 17, but you had had, um, I mean, you'd had a pretty rough all the way up until then.
And, uh, so can, you know, in a nutshell, can you tell me where you got to the point of. First of all winning the first time you tried suicide.
Collin Williams: [00:37:29] So for those that, aren't where, when he went environments of suicide. Now I have a, I have a show that I literally took my, um, my suicide note and I decided to turn it into a show.
And as a comedian, naturally, when you're, when you're writing, you kind of tend to put jokes and things. So I was little, I was in a psych ward. I was sitting in a psych ward. I had seven days to myself cause you know, psych ward and I was writing out the suicidal. And, but you're still, you put in jokes in it.
Because, you know, you're like, Oh, that's funny. And you write it down in the suicide note. And I was like, well, I'm either going to kill myself or this will turn into a show. Um, and so I ended up, uh, I ended up [00:38:00] both. I'm trying to do both. I ended up, uh, having, I've had, uh, five more suicide attempts past that.
And then I also have a show now that's written completely based off of that suicide note, explaining to people why I want to kill myself. So that's kind of the essence of the show. Actually. It's kind of explaining how would someone reach that point? Because up until now, a lot of people haven't had that experience with depression or anxiety.
They can't relate. Um, even for those that can relate, it's sometimes nice for them to have an empathetic ear and to be able to see someone else going through something, um, maybe a little different, but still those that same path that led them there. And to help people understand that it's not, it's not a single, uh, job loss.
It's not a single breakup. It's not even a single thing that would make a white chick camp. Even that, that leads to it. It's this sustained river of shit that eventually overflows long enough, it breaks the dam called, uh, it breaks the dam and destroys the village below called hope. So for me, it was a, it was a long path.
Um, I was raised, uh, I was raised in, in a, in a cult. Uh, so I was raised Jehovah's witness. You can debate the [00:39:00] cult status of that. Most people outside of the religion will agree. Yeah. Um, I was, uh, physically sexually, emotionally abused. Um, I came from, uh, you know, the, the least, the least bad part is that, uh, my parents were divorced.
That's like just the new normal thing right now. Um, but so, so I grew up in this very hectic area. Where everything was, I was cut off from the outside world from religion. Um, I had, you know, this entire horrible family home life that kind of built these levels of depression. And then I started learning to be able to use comedy kind of battle that in some ways in those high school years, and as a way to be able to have a creative outlet.
But you, uh, Learning to be effective at communicating depression while being funny is very tricky. And to discuss trauma is very tricky. It's not something that you can do quickly. Um, and sometimes you're not ready to open up yet. Some people aren't ready to discuss those things and especially with where I was at with comedy in salt Lake city, it's very much, um, all the shows need to be.
PG [00:40:00] 13 at the most, like you can't drop an F-bomb at all. Yeah. And so I'm glad that I started an area that, that forced me to learn how to write and to perform and to do things clean. But. Ultimately, it took a little longer. I had to move out of state. I had to start pursuing my own things and I had to eventually have this mental breakdown, a post for suicide attempt, where I was just sitting in a psych ward.
And I was like, I am going to let the world burn. I don't care if everyone knows these things anymore. Cause I might be dead. Who cares? I was holding on to all these secrets for other people. And I was like, I don't, I don't give a shit. Right. I got, I'm going to be dead. Maybe. And it was because of letting all that go, that actually found that I've been carrying kind of the weight of everyone else on my shoulders and letting that out there, uh, ended up being really good and therapeutic for me.
And in the form of a show
Scott Curtis: [00:40:45] now, going through the physical, mental, sexual abuse that you went through. Let's take that out of the equation. Let's say you are just a regular old Jehovah's witness that, [00:41:00] uh, didn't go through that. You were a Midwest version and, um, and let's say that, uh, everything else was the same.
Do you think you'd still suffer from depression?
Collin Williams: [00:41:12] Um, because of what happened with me? I, so I was kicked out. Cause I had premarital sex. I always like to say, uh, you know, we had a little disagreement on how many people are supposed to have premarital sex with their, a number was zero. Mine was a little higher than that.
Um, I was well in my Jesus, baptize people in water. I wanted to get my Dick wet. It felt like a Holy and. So one of those things is, is your, when you're kicked out, um, the entire structure of the religion is you're not supposed to have any outside contact, unnecessary outside contact. You're not supposed to have any friends that aren't inside the church, all of those things.
And once you're kicked out, if your, if you're kicked out, your friends are no longer allowed to contact you. So you can't talk to them or they will get kicked out as well. It's kind of like a, it's kind of like a fight club. Yeah. It's like, it's like fight [00:42:00] church. And the first rule of fight church is, uh, Is don't have premarital sex.
That's the one I broke. Uh, and the second one is don't talk to people who are kicked out of fight church. You get kicked out too. There would have naturally been a depression there. And you have to basically restart your entire life over either if you try to get back in or, um, by repenting and doing all these things.
And I tried that route, didn't work for me, um, because I love science. Um, actually I didn't get back into the church because I learned. Um, that, uh, I was sitting in a meeting with three, this panel of deacons that decides if you need to go back in and they're like, okay, well, what have you done? Cause you can't like masturbate for 90 days.
Uh it's it's, it's the worst TLC show ever that you could have no masturbation 90 days. And. I was sitting there with these guys and they're like, okay. So how have you learned how you figured out, you know, how to not masturbate? And I was like, Oh, okay. So I realized that whenever I have to pee, like my bladder presses on my [00:43:00] prostate.
And if I just go use the restroom, like 90% of the time, I'm not horny anymore, but they weren't look, they were, they were looking for like the religious answers to like, okay. But how has Jesus helped you with it? I'm like, no, no. I found something better than Jesus. Using the restroom and that was it. And I didn't get in because I was like, no, I just go pee.
That's. Um, so I, I, I, you end up having to restart your life. And I was having a discussion with my partner. Um, a couple of nights ago, cause she was watching all these serial killer shows and she's like, I noticed that there's a statistically high number of Jehovah's witnesses ended up being serial killers like former my, like there's a reason for that.
When you look at a psychological perspective of the things that we define as, uh, antisocial personality disorder, which is often mistaken for psychopathic, um, psychopathic is something you're born with. Sociopathy is a thing that can be developed by environment. So antisocial personality disorder and sociopathy.
The, the things that you are encouraged to do in the religion. So you're supposed to be going out and recruiting people. So you have [00:44:00] to go and have this nice kind of artificial. Um, Charm when you're going out and recruiting people. But at the same point in time, you're not supposed to associate with anyone that isn't.
So you end up having this anti-social aspect that comes into play and you end up kind of huddling together. You're also having to learn to rationalize things that are irrational as most religions do. But, you know, especially when, when you are stuck in that kind of cult mindset, you have to rationalize it.
So all of these things that lead to, um, Specific, uh, characteristics of these mental illnesses, um, that we have, uh, is, is kind of displayed in the religion, same sort of thing. They don't believe in hell. So the ultimate punishment you can have is just dying. And so if you're going to try to execute vengeance on someone, if you have this anger and you have these, uh, all these anti-social things that have been built up from, uh, from the these religious aspects, and then you want to exercise vengeance, you can't just be like, well, this person's going to go and burn in hell forever.
Right? You're like, well, I guess I got to kill them. Um, if you're crazy, you know, that's [00:45:00] not the usual, that's not the traditional thing, but, um, you know, if you're, if you're gonna be going down that path and, uh, you have enough people in the world that were, or are Jehovah's witness, um, rough estimates, probably around 30 million, their exact count is 8 million, but they don't count people who aren't active.
If they kick you out, you're not there. If you're not active, uh, once every six months they don't count you. So there's probably about 30 million people all with this. Anti-social. Aspects that have been built into their brain cognitive structure. And they're, they're just kind of this, um, giant ball of potential, uh, potential, um, uh, psychosis.
Scott Curtis: [00:45:41] So let's get back to the question. Do you think that you would, um, If all that hadn't been fed into you, do you think you'd still suffer from depression?
Collin Williams: [00:45:53] Yes. Okay. Yeah. Um, if I had not gone back into the login, even if I had gone back in, I would have some depression, [00:46:00] not as much. Um, but it would have been there.
There's also things on a genetic level. There's a history of mental illness in my family. My uncle is an assassin who kills people illegally for a living. So like, there's not a lot of stability in there, but you add on the environmental factors in it. And it definitely goes worse.
Scott Curtis: [00:46:20] Let's talk about, okay.
You're kicked out of the church. And what age was that? That was 1818. So you had, you, you had kind of dipped into the comedy and that probably got you horny. And then, uh,
Collin Williams: [00:46:38] Oh, I was a teenage boy. I didn't need comedy. No one watches a Gilbert Godfrey special and gets horny, right? No.
Scott Curtis: [00:46:46] Yeah, that's true.
Collin Williams: [00:46:49] It, it happened to coincide.
So I was kicked out, uh, April, uh, April 1st, April 1st, 2008. I know my very first book show was with Robert Mack at wiseguys comedy club [00:47:00] Ogun, February 22nd, 2008. So I had nothing else in my life because I just lost everyone that I, that I knew. And so I had nothing else except for, Oh, what am I gonna do with my weekends?
If I'm not performing, I'm going to be at the club hanging out. And then they liked me well enough that like, I did a 150 shows the first year. Cause I would show up and I'd just be there to hang out. And the club manager would be like, Hey, I can text the owner and see if I can get you a spot. Cause she was, she was great.
She was a wonderful Ella Gail to death. She was like my comedy mom. So it, that was the way that comedy ended up being catalyst. And by the fact that I, I was kicked out and I also didn't have a, I am able to tour you can't tour in the religion. Um, you wouldn't be able to do that. You gotta focus on God a lot.
So if I would've gone back in no touring comedy real quick.
Scott Curtis: [00:47:53] So, um, when you get into comedy, you [00:48:00] kind of build a new family, especially if you stay in a certain region. Did you, uh, did that happen with
Collin Williams: [00:48:07] you? Yes. Um, my first three years I was in salt Lake city and there, there was a fantastic group of guys at that point in time, uh, in, in the, in the club scene, um, who are still, you know, friendly friends to, to this day, 13 years later.
Um, in fact, the reason I was able to get booked soon is because of one specific comic. I had gone to a few open mikes. He'd only seen one. Literally he saw me at the, uh, third open mic I'd ever done. And he happened to be at Duke. He was hosting a show at the club and I walked up and I was congratulating was set afterwards.
And he's like, why aren't you up there? And I was like, I don't even know how to have it happens. And he's like, here's the email? Tell, tell Keith that I recommended you. And so thanks to Spencer King doing that, that I was actually able to skip. You know, years of open mics. And so there was some [00:49:00] fantastic people like that, that there is that family of comedy comedy can be, uh, very cliquey and very toxic.
I feel like that's even happening worse these days. Yeah. Uh, just like everything else with social media, it's not even more, uh, fragmented, but there, you can also find people who understand you because they, they, you have the same mindset. You can say screwed up, mess up things to each other. You guys understand mental health.
Um, even if you're not good at communicating it, they understand depression the same way you do.
Scott Curtis: [00:49:31] Now, when you you've got this family and you're, and they are. Behind you in doing your comedy, your comedy, when you started, did you talk about depression? Did you talk about what you had gone through or did you go the normal route of one liners and Mr.
X and all that kind of stuff?
Collin Williams: [00:49:56] Yeah, I was a shitty comic. Yeah, because I [00:50:00] didn't, I didn't know how to approach the, the mental health stuff correctly. So I tried a little bit of it and it didn't work because it is a very delicate balancing act. I just had to spend. Yeah. The suicide note show. I was spending 10 hours a day for an entire year, writing it, re rehearsing it, um, practicing it, rewriting it 10 hours a day, almost every single day.
That's how long it took. And I didn't have that time back then. So it was, you know, it was, there's a few jokes. I still, um, Have here or there today and actually we're in the show, but for the most part, whenever I would try something along where I wanted to go, it would either go too dark and not be funny, or especially where I was, where I was at in salt Lake city area.
It was, you know, too dirty. Um, you know, I remember I had, I got pulled off, uh, pulled aside by the club manager one time after a show and I had called myself a pussy and she's like, yeah, you can't, you can't say that. Um, onstage. And I was like, okay, I guess I'll not do that one. So that's kind of the level where I had to work with them and it made it great because I learned to [00:51:00] write in those restrictions and that's a good skill to have, and I can still do a clean, I did a fundraiser for the boy Scouts that was held inside of a Mormon ward building.
So I can do that show. I want to die afterwards so much because I'm not, I'm not myself. I'm a chuckle as the joke, clown. Yeah. But you know, it, it gave me those restrictions. So it took a while to be able to reach there. And I think a lot of people say it takes about 10 years until you find your voice in comedy.
And for me, I was writing, um, I was writing suicide note when I was, uh, nine years in. And I think that's really the bridging point where I kind of realized how to take all the things I wanted to do and turn them into who I am. And I look back and I can see little bits where there's little tiny, uh, little tiny, like one of the jokes I, uh, I, I, my original set jokes is I was born December 26.
Canada's boxing day. I think that explains that my dad hit me so much as a kid. Um, which it's and I always, I knew it [00:52:00] wasn't going to get a laugh. So I was like, that's okay. You gotta register a test or joke to see how dark we can go. By the way you failed. We've got to get on board here. Um, my dad didn't actually hit me.
My dad loved me. He hit my mother. Um, so like I had bad joke in there. But I could never, you can't, it's hard to even, even though normal audience, I tour tour different shows. I have a suicide note show, and then I have the clubs show drastically different, um, shows.
Scott Curtis: [00:52:29] So you've got the support group. And you're starting to perform comedy.
Did you talk to any of these people about what you had been through and the fact that you were suffering from some pretty major depression?
Collin Williams: [00:52:44] Oh no. Okay. No, that's um, and that's, I always encourage people. You don't have to talk about things till you're ready, but if you can, the benefit from it. Cause like I said, I, when, when I.
Finally had the suicide note show. And when I kind of, when I first [00:53:00] first released the very first suicide note, um, The actual note itself, I felt better because I had been holding on to all these secrets for other people. So like for reference, I was molested for six years as a kid. I didn't really talk about it.
Um, I especially didn't talk about who, what all, uh, all those pieces, so, and that wasn't benefiting me. I was holding onto someone else's secret. It was, it was my secret in the sense that yes, it was something horrible to happen to me. Yeah. But the reason I was holding onto it, wasn't for my benefit. It only benefited other people.
And so if you can figure out a way to discuss those things, I always encourage it. Maybe don't first start with, uh, don't start with standup is the very first method. Hmm, uh, you know, go to therapy, make sure that you've actually worked through it. So you don't break down crying on stage. Yeah. I always like to emphasize, and it's on my website, as far as the there's a frequently asked questions about, you know, how can you do this show?
And you have to process the emotions you have to, uh, you have to leave your heart on the [00:54:00] page so you don't cry on the stage. You don't want to have that first can of worms B where you open up a very deep, traumatic thing on stage and then have it bomb. It's it's going to feel
Scott Curtis: [00:54:11] horrible. I noticed that both in the Ted talk and the suicide notes show that you owned it.
I, it was something, it wasn't something that
Collin Williams: [00:54:23] drove
Scott Curtis: [00:54:24] you. Even though the depression and the, the desire to end your life did drive you for a long time. You drove it, you, you, you wrapped it up in a ball and you took control of it. And I think that's, what's different from anybody else. Like, like. Doug Stan hope talks about suicide and all that kind of stuff.
But he talks about it in a fact that it owns him that it's it's part of him. And then yours was more, okay, this happened [00:55:00] and I'm still dealing with it, but I own it. This, this is I've put this in a box and I own it. Is that what you're trying to convey?
Collin Williams: [00:55:08] That, that was part of the goal of turning it into the show.
Yeah. And, and making it exactly that, something where you own it. And that's one of the things, if you watch the talk on ted.com, uh, one of the things that, uh, I found really important was, uh, I just lost my train of thought. Um, I can't even own my own brain. It's this old, it's this where we're all saying any, remember the things, uh, Yeah.
So, uh, so, Oh, that's exactly what I was thinking of there. So, you know, people always. We'll criticize comedy for talking about certain topics, they'll say, Oh, you shouldn't talk about X, Y, or Z. But if you watch Oprah, there's like books written about these exact same topics. And these people are rave because it's empowerment and they're owning it and they're controlling the narrative and they're not letting it control them.
But all of a sudden, someone wants to do it in the way that [00:56:00] they feel the most comfortable with it. They want to tell jokes about it and that's their preferred method. And all of a sudden people are like, hold on. You're, you're an asshole. You're not a hero all of a sudden because you did it, you know, You tried to express yourself in a way that you felt comfortable with, but I didn't like that.
So that's, you know, I'm going to tell you what to do, which I was, especially, I was writing the, the talk, um, and it was right during kind of this whole crisis, uh, of me too. And there was an interview of. Vice news that they interviewed college comedy club bookers. And it struck me as horrific because there was these very liberal college comedy bookers saying that, well, you know, even if a woman is talking about her own sexual assault, we're not going to allow her to joke about that on our stage.
And in the era of saying, we don't want to silence victims. Uh, that felt like the most silence thing of, well, you can talk about it, but only if it's in a way that we approve of, you know, cause we don't want to give you your own autonomy in discussing this thing that we say we should have autonomy over.
Right. [00:57:00] And
Scott Curtis: [00:57:00] I never, that you're stood the whole college thing. Why they turned it, it doesn't make any sense at all. And I, I know you get, um, you know, a vocal minority or whatever after a show and that leads them to make those decisions. But yeah. It seems like, you know, a college campus would be one of the last bastions of free speech, you know,
Collin Williams: [00:57:24] and it is as long as it's not comedy that's once again, if I, if I had written a book about being raised in a cult and, you know, molested as a kid and violent household and my sister in and out of psych wards, they would have brought me on to campus and I would have been this.
Fantastic. Bastion of look at this person. Who's had all of these horrific things happen, but then they regained their own narrative and they received it. But if I'm at a show about it, all of a sudden the college bookers are like, wait a second, hold on. That's that's wrong. And so that's, I wanted to write the talk specifically.
Number one is the defense for my show, but also as kind of [00:58:00] a thing that any comic could just drop a link to when someone's like, well, there's nothing funny about, or you shouldn't joke about X topic. The other people might there they're listening right now might be going, Oh, okay. Well, you know, there are some things that are triggering the XYZ, you know, there are some contexts.
That's exactly what the, the talk discusses is. You look at context, not a specific topic because there's a, there's always. It doesn't automatically make it good. It doesn't automatically make it bad. I was advocating for people to molests kids. Yeah. Maybe that's not a good yeah. Punching down. Yeah. But if I'm discussing how it happened to me and I'm regaining the power in the situation, uh, I always th so the joke, and this is, I understand it's horrible, but I love it.
It's, uh, you know, whenever people see pictures of me as a kid, they're like, Oh my goodness, you're a really cute kid. I'm like, yeah. I know I was molested as a kid. They don't do that to the ugly ones. Like I was one hot baby, me empowering it. It's taking this horrible thing that happened. And if I, the only positive and it's like, you [00:59:00] know, I'm not advocating for it, but it's like, yeah, that's a, that's a, that's a positive thing about me.
I know. Control it. You don't get to control me.
Scott Curtis: [00:59:07] And gallows humor is so refreshing when. When it's, when it's needed. Uh, I I've always been, I've always joked about death because I'm not a religious person. I've always joked at funerals and things like that. And, uh, you know, sometimes people are taken aback by it and, uh, It's, but for me, that's the release.
That's, that's my cry, you know, that's, that's how I grieve is, is through humor like that. And, um, so I, I totally, I totally get that. And I think a lot of people would, uh, be in alignment with that. So let's jump, let's jump forward. Uh, Let's go forward nine years from when you started performing in salt [01:00:00] Lake and you decided to write this, um, suicide note.
So how many times had you attempted suicide when you started writing it?
Collin Williams: [01:00:11] So at that point in time, I was, uh, I almost had gone for time number two. Okay. So I was, uh, kind of the ferry, the show actually centers around this, this moment where I wasn't like a really. Uh, was trying to kill myself. I want my body wanted to die so much.
I was literally immobile in the middle of a park and a hundred degree weather for just two days. No eating, no drinking. And. It was, I was just going to die. I was just going to, I would like to say that, you know, it was, I, I was going to be like the, I was raised in Oregon, Portland, Oregon. So like, you know, I figured like I would just, it would be like the giving tree.
Like I would just die when the earth would reclaim me as an Oregonian, even as suicide. You've got to reduce for users. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [01:00:55] You're a compost baby.
Collin Williams: [01:00:57] Yeah. I, it didn't [01:01:00] work out. So it was really more of like a hot yoga class than a suicide attempt, but, you know, that's, that's, um, most suicides don't end in completion.
That's kind of a misnomer. It's only one out of every 39.2. So you'll hear people talk about like attempting suicide. You're like, well, you must not have wanted it. Uh, that's not the case. Um, you know, one of 39.2, thank goodness. Only one that small percentage ends in completion. In fact, only one out of every, uh, It's only one, every three ends up in a hospitalization, even so luckily, most people attempt and it doesn't, it, they aren't, they don't complete the suicide.
Luckily. Um, so that's my first time, the second time I was planning on killing, I was like, I wanted to go more, more, bigger, better, uh, for how I was going to do it. So my plan. I was, I was going to take my car. I was going to drive it really fast, math e-brake and turn my steering wheel and a roll my car into an electric substation.
Uh, that was up by my, uh, w a place where [01:02:00] I, I knew and listen, I know, I know it's not really logical in a law sense. Uh, when you're, when you have suicide brain, it's not super logical. And I was also, I was a nerd that was raised in comic books, so I'm like, okay. So either this kills me or it gives me super powers.
One of the two, cause once again, suicide brain, not very
Scott Curtis: [01:02:15] logical. Had you been watching fast and furious or w
Collin Williams: [01:02:19] it was, it was, it was actually really more Spiderman. Yeah. And I was like, okay, here's how I got my electro powers. I was like, I want to destroy myself inside and outside. So I was on the way there.
I stopped and I picked up some Mexican food to eat it. So at least I was sitting across this substation Murray holiday substation in Utah, uh, with, uh, The steering wheel on one hand chicken burrito on the other and across the street, my death, or. The origin story. Yeah. Play all electric, grow the superhero chicken, electric chicken.
And then I had this [01:03:00] little kind of thing pop in my brain that was like, luckily it kind of interrupted the suicide brand was like, Hey, okay. First of all, a great idea. Love, love the alpha electrical great name. Um, but you know, maybe, maybe instead of killing yourself, What if instead you went to the hospital and checked yourself in to the, to the psych ward.
I mean, cause you can always come back next week and kill yourself and maybe that'll give you time to Amazon prime and a Cape in case it doesn't work and a mask. And so I did, I went and I checked myself in, it was actually my fourth. Stay in a psych ward. I've been in them since my first stay was 15 because my life was, and I went, I checked in and that's when I was writing the suicide and it was after this, it was going to be a second attempt.
And then at the last second I drove 45 minutes to very specific hospital. Cause I knew a friend that worked in their psych ward and I was like, I'm going to go to Damon's hospital. So. I drove up to the Acadia hospital, sat in there, uh, wrote the suicide note, had some interesting [01:04:00] conversations with, uh, the staff who did not understand my dark humor at certain times.
Uh, the psychiatrist loved it, but I, I didn't think they wake you up. They're like, Hey, do you want to go to group? And they'll wake you up when you're sleeping. And so I put a sign on the door that said, uh, to avoid Hom, uh, do not disturb to avoid homicidal ideations. And the nurses got very concerned and the psychiatrist companies like, okay, what's the deal?
And I was like, okay, well we all know. Uh, so obviously, you know, that a lack of sleep presents in males as increased aggression. So in order to present homicidal ideations do not disturb. And he's like, that's good.
Scott Curtis: [01:04:37] So let's, I mean, I I'm, I'm trying to soak all of a sudden. So you had tried to kill yourself twice at the point where you wanted to do something creative with it and. There's at least three more times [01:05:00] after that.
Collin Williams: [01:05:02] So there's actually, so I don't count that second time that I almost killed him. I don't count that.
So there's actually, there's a total of six times, so there's five times after that. Um, so I had a, let's see what was the next one after that? So, um, you know, obviously artists were very creative and one of the things, so I published the suicide note online. Um, kind of an advanced cause I was like, I'm not going to have time to actually like write the rest of this later on.
Uh, like I'm just going to publish it now versus being like really suicidal and be like time to click publish. So I really, I was feeling a little better and I did another piece in a very depressed day where I took, um, some blood from my veins. I had some, some, uh, Some actual syringes. So I was in Canada, Mexico.
One of the countries, you can buy them legally over the counter. And I was like, who wouldn't want to just have those sitting around? So I bought some and I withdrew two milliliters of blood. If you know what a milliliter is, it's not much, it is like one 25th [01:06:00] of a shot glass. But if you put, if that's like how much ink is in a pen and I wrote this, what I thought was a beautiful, um, Thing with my own blood, this little note about it, how was literally leaving my, you know, I was bleeding onto the paper.
It felt very metaphorical to me. Um, and people kind of freaked out a little bit and, uh, they, they like, like police ended up showing up to the old place that I lived because I posted a picture of it online and they showed up to the old place that, uh, I lived and I kind of had this thought of like, wait, hold on a sec.
I posted. I, I distributed a 12 page suicide note a couple of weeks earlier, but you guys, it wasn't until we had this visual graphic that you really cared about me or that you were looking at, well, fuck you. I'll just do it then. Um, so I tried to kill myself over that night. That was not a plan that originally it was just more like, well, who gives a shit if apparently the only thing that people care about is snappy images on Facebook.
Like, let's end it. There was that one. Um, there's a lot of what I call gray area of suicides that also happened [01:07:00] to, and I have some friends that, um, We've we've lost. And that area where, you know, what will kill you, you know, what can kill you? You know, Hey, if I mix these pills and these booths, it's really dangerous.
If I take too much Xanax and drink too much alcohol, but I just don't want to feel. And if it kills me okay, if it doesn't who, you know, then at least I didn't feel. Yeah. And so there's a lot of those times where it was, uh, it was real. Real rough. And it was, you know, one of those, one of those nights where it's like, you know, you're already at this much medication and why not take a few more.
And so it's, you're already kind of close to that line. So there's a few of those. There was one time I tried killing myself with three full bottles of alcohol, alcohol poisoning way. I don't own guns for a reason, a very good reason. It's the only reason, um, that I'm still it's because, uh, There's a little quote, a modified, but it, and it [01:08:00] was a very one-off, but it's being able to tell the caliber of a gun by its taste.
Yeah, there's a sentence I love
Scott Curtis: [01:08:09] you would definitely. Um, if you own a gun that, uh, ups the, uh, percentage of completion on a suicide by quite a bit. Yeah.
Collin Williams: [01:08:21] Females have more females have more attempts than males, but males have higher rates of completion because of their access to firearms. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [01:08:27] Yep. So, yeah, that's, that's a big deal.
Collin Williams: [01:08:30] And also probably one of the reasons most comics are still alive is because we tend to go more of the pillar out versus the, yeah. The firearms.
Scott Curtis: [01:08:40] So, um, talking about pills and talking about booze, uh, was substance abuse, um, pretty big for you? Or did you just, were, did you just go in and out of that?
Collin Williams: [01:08:55] So when you look at the genetic markers for addiction, we can actually test your blood and [01:09:00] see if you have an addictive, um, if something is causing addiction to you, it's one of the reasons we know that sex addiction is not a real thing from an addiction blood level perspective.
Uh, but when you look at. When people will use things as coping mechanisms. That's often what we mistake as an addiction. And it's the person who is not addicted to pot, but they are trying to use it as an escape. And so yes, they can technically quit whenever they want to, but then they're going to feel really bad and they attribute that to an addiction, but it's no life is crappy.
And you do the only way you were solving it is, was by escaping. And so there, the, there was definitely substance abuse, not necessarily in a clinical addiction setting. And a lot of times people will mistake that when you look at the numbers, um, 80% of the alcohol is consumed by 20% of the people, but of those 20%, only 20% of them are actual people who have a quote unquote drinking problem.
And so I always hate message attribution. Um, so there was definitely a lot of stuff I was using for escapism and to, to try to flee away [01:10:00] from the pain and to try to deal with it differently, but ultimately ended just escaping over to Europe and having a fun time, um, drinking over there. And that, that also helped a lot.
Yeah. But, uh, it was. So, yes, there were, I was using things as a way to not feel in the moment and that's not the correct or healthy way to deal with it. But one of the things that, uh, is kind of emphasized if it's that or death, um, pick the, pick, the, taking the, an appropriate prescribed amount of sleeping pills and going to sleep and then waking up the next day and seeing if it's better.
Yeah. You know, there's, there is escapism is not, your optimal is not the best option, but if it's your, if it's that or death, let's see how tomorrow is.
Scott Curtis: [01:10:45] I want to go, you get into some of these statistics and I want to talk about the fact that, I mean, the, the title of your Ted talk is, you know, the humor, uh, is healing [01:11:00] and, uh, I've I've talked to other comics by the time Driessen is a very, uh, uh, big advocate on, um, humor and laughter being a healing mechanism, uh, for people who are sick and depression is obviously an illness.
But before I get into that, I want to, this is something that I've heard myself and I want to know if you've experienced it. Do people talk to you and say, Colin? You are incredibly handsome. You're very charming. You're funny. How can you be depressed?
Collin Williams: [01:11:40] The, uh, they watched the show and they're like, how are you still alive?
Yeah. I wrote the show so
Scott Curtis: [01:11:47] people will know, but if somebody was to come, come at you cold, they hadn't seen the show. I mean, obviously you've heard this, the, you know, how come somebody was so much. [01:12:00] Okay, good. Going on. How can, how can you be a depressed person who has tried suicide?
Collin Williams: [01:12:07] Yeah. And that's, that's exactly why I wrote the show was so people could understand.
Cause there's always that question of how you can reach that point. But usually the quickest route for me is just to say, I was raised, your hope is witnessing. They're like, Oh yeah, I'd want to kill myself too. Right. Really? The quick shortcut you tell them like that piece. And they're like, Oh man, that's.
That's my shortcut. You can also feel like I was molested. I was, Joe was in his room molested as a kid for, you know, six years grew up in a violent household chase with knives, you know, uh, that, and they're like, okay, well, that's, you know, also I'm a, I'm a Brown person in America right now. I've got to. Uh, I gotta go to court because I'm Brown is the easiest way to put it, like got I've got, I have tomorrow at 2:00 PM.
I have court. Uh, cause I'm Brown basically. So it's like, yeah, that's a no, it's fun. There's nothing like a Bing. Even when you try to grow past that, you're like, Oh, there's certain pieces that are [01:13:00] either psychologically embedded in you because of the history or that are environmental that are out of your control.
All right, that you, it doesn't matter. I'm always going to be a Brown person in America. I can't change the Brown part. Um, and I guess Michael Jackson has kind of. Questionable in that, like maybe I could change it a little bit, but, uh, and I already white present, like crazy look at a picture of me. I do not look black.
I do not look black. The reason I wear a suit coat is kind of like my Harry Potter cloak with police. They're like, Oh, maybe he's one of us. He's got a really good tan and. So I can't change me so I can try to change America, but that's a lot, that's a lot of work. Huh.
Scott Curtis: [01:13:38] So let's get, let's get into some of the statistics that you were mentioning up top because, and I know this is a.
Procure to comedians and, and it's, it's really nothing. That is a mystery to comedians except, uh, w we all know that we're broken a little bit, [01:14:00] but, um, we don't know how, and we don't know, um, w which disorder we have. So, um, let's, let's talk about those statistics.
Collin Williams: [01:14:10] So the history of how I got these numbers.
Going into the, the talker, ted.com. I wanted to have accurate data. I mean, this is, this is a big science community. And so I looked at all of the papers that have been published and there were really none. There was, there was three studies on mental health and comedy. And two of them were just telling you that if a, if a scientist thought you were funny, That you were probably going to die sooner because I rated people on a scale of one to 10 and they looked at the age, they died.
That's not really mental health and comedy. And the other one was, um, out of, uh, Oxford and they did a, an actual study. And so I put out into the comedy community to get some responses, a very basic, this was not supposed to be, uh, I, I was drinking a lot of Jack Daniels. Ain't Jack and Cokes when I publish it.
So it was not like the most articulate.