The Dark Side of Comedy and its connection with Depression.There have been studies trying to quantify where the psychology and magic come from.
- What is feels like to be on stage, by yourself
- How Comedy can be therapeutic
- Are all comics “messed up”, and is it a prerequisite for being funny?
- How to survive a bad set, or a bad night (and how this translates to real life)
- Jojo’s version of what Depression feels like
- Finding meaning in suffering and feeling alone
- Turning what you consider your “Flaw” into your “Superpower”
- Changing perspective on WHY we feel sad, depressed, and/or regret.
A conversation with Jojo White
I’ve always been fascinated with comedians. I used to come home from junior high school and watch ComicView on BET or even many years later, memorizing Robin Williams’ comedy special, Live on Broadway. It’s always seemed like comics had a special eye for society and human behavior. I mean how else do they come up with their jokes, mostly geared towards many of the societal norms we take for granted?
There have been studies trying to quantify the psychology of comics and better understand what both motivates them to do what they do and also what gives them their special talents. Famous comics such as Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, and Ellen Degeneres are often referred to when talking about this special kind of intelligence. They are also often put in the Mental Health/Illness category as well; to which correlations have also been explored. Though most studies find that they are not necessarily more “sick” than non-comedians, their personalities often come with a high drive for acceptance.
To better understand if anything of this has merit, or to at least attempt to hear it from the horse’s mouth; I sat down with my friend, Jojo White to talk about his passion for sharing the connection between Comedy and Depression.
Buckle in, this one is going to take you for a ride. I hope you enjoy it – Steven.
The Dark Side of Comedy - Jojo White
Steven: [00:00:32] So we're here today to talk about comedy and mental health and how they intertwine and work themselves out but I want to get right to the nuts.
Jojo White: [00:00:43] Let's do it
Steven: [00:00:44] So why do you think, I, talking to you, bringing you on the show, it felt like you were passionate about doing this.
You had ideas, you've have a focus on this connection. So why is there such a strong relationship between depression and comedy?
Jojo White: [00:00:59] I think it, for me, it's it.. I had to find it for myself. And so I, and then once I was amongst like, people who had the same struggles. I started to notice patterns like, okay, depression and comedy go hand in hand for the most part.
And I think it's more of like therapeutic, for, for people who can't afford counselors or therapy that, you know, all that. It's to be able to go up on stage, I mean, there's good and bad to it. yeah, go up on stage and kind of vent and everything. But when everyone doesn't give you that reaction, then it's kinda like, they give you, it's like more weight to yourself.
Like you just feel bad because you're trying to get those laughs and stuff when you do stand up.
Steven: [00:01:44] So you said you noticed that in the community, did it ever occur to you personally, or did you kind of notice a theme as you ran into other comedians?
Jojo White: [00:01:52] I kind of had an idea from watching like bigger comedians and stuff.
everyone always said that Oh, comedy and depression go hand in hand. Like you can't, live a good life and be a comedian for the most part. Like you gotta have some kind of trauma, something crazy happening to you. And that's what makes you a great comic, I guess the worse your life is the better, like the comedian you are.
Steven: [00:02:16] So that makes me think of, remember the scene in Eminem or in Eight Mile at the end when he's like, you think you're a gangster, you went to private school. So in the world of comedy, is it almost if you're kind of too put together, is there a little bit of reverse stigma on that? Are you almost measured by how messed up your life is?
Jojo White: [00:02:35] No, not really, but like we can sense when somebody like has a good life per se or like who's all together.
Steven: [00:02:42] And are they not that funny?
Jojo White: [00:02:45] I don't think it's that. I think, cause typically you try to speak from experience. You try to; like with comedy, you're just speaking from your perspective in life. And so if you have a clean perspective, a good perspective, then like you can, you can tell that you can read that on somebody.
Now, if you have like a twisted, crazy perspective in life and things have happened to you and, you know, you're drinking at five and smoking cigs and it kind of like
Steven: [00:03:12] Waking up on your stove..
Jojo White: [00:03:13] Exactly the things that you saw, like kind of like, people can see that people see like the struggling. It's weird.
Like you can feel it too, it's hard to explain it for anyone who's listening, but like with comedy, there's more to just get up on stage and speaking. You can feel the audience, the audience can feel you, they can feel when you're being genuine. They can feel when you're being fake. And, there's a feeling there where if you've had a rough life or whatever, like people kinda know. Yeah.
Steven: [00:03:45] So I feel like that can go in two directions because I've, when I think about comedy, mental health, and whatever that comes with and how comedy can be kind of "therapeutic". You let your poison out there, you process it, people laugh, maybe that's healing for you.
Jojo White: [00:04:03] ... or they don't laugh.
Steven: [00:04:04] Right.
But then in the other direction, if you have to loosely kind of have a "messed up life" to produce good material.
Are you almost afraid to fix yourself? Are you afraid to heal? Are you afraid to kind of level out and maybe your content will get soft? Is there any kind of calculation, have you ever thought about that?
Jojo White: [00:04:27] Well, I think I'm a person has the ability to heal, but it doesn't change their perspective. You still have that outlook on life. Like you can grow, you can be a better person, but it doesn't change all the craziness. Like I can dress up and put a suit and tie on and go to an interview, but I can, after I can still crack up and joke on everybody that was in there and break everybody down. So it's a, it's evolving, but you know, they're just tools at that point in your life and how you view things.
Steven: [00:04:59] So the "crisis" provides the perspective, the performance is the outlet with the opportunity to heal. And, but it doesn't mean you've lost your perspective.
Jojo White: [00:05:12] Yeah. And I mean, you know, comedy is an outlet. It doesn't necessarily mean that you'll heal, but I think that, it's a feel good. Like when you do good up there, like it's the best high, it's the best drug. I can't compare it to anything that I've ever felt and I've hit game winners and big basketball games and stuff, but it doesn't compare. But I think aside that, even just not being on stage, being in the community, being amongst all the other comedians that you know, that are broken per se and, had hard lives.
Like we were just a group of misfits that come together and we accept each other for who we are like, there's no Oh, like you're poor..
Steven: [00:05:59] It's almost like it doesn't matter; what matters is, what do you bring to the stage? That's how you're measured in the Yeah.
Jojo White: [00:06:07] For the most part, what you bring to the stage and how well you get along with your peers.
cause if you get on stage, you do your thing and you get off and you become, a recluse and you're not going to help yourself. And you're not going to be able to have that, it's like school.
Steven: [00:06:23] So before we get too far, you said "that feeling", and it's hard to describe, try to. When you do well on stage and are there different versions of that feeling maybe when you try a joke for the fifth time, or maybe you try a joke that is really close to something that matters to you and it pops off, what are some of those different feelings like.
Jojo White: [00:06:46] It can all be different. You know, just, situations and factors and stuff like.. That's why, when you tell jokes, you have to tell that same joke over in front of multiple people, because you don't necessarily get the right reaction the first time.
It may not translate towards other groups or whatever, but, I think that the feeling, man, if I'm telling some of them personal and they accept it. And I get a laugh then it's a high. If I don't, because it's just, you get up on stage and you're opening yourself up to 10 people to 4 people, to 150 people.
And so if they don't react to it, then you're like, ah, man, I suck. Or like, they don't like me. Essentially that's what it is. You want them to like you for who you are or, and that's where the laughter comes in. But if they don't then they don't like you. And so now it's a heavier weight.
It's like, Oh man, they don't like me for that. So, but you go back to the drawing boards and go on, but the feeling you get and I've, I've had this a few times. Not saying I'm good. I do well. No. the feeling man. The first time that I got that feeling, performed downtown, it was open mic. And, I just remember everything that I would say would get a laugh and it was just like, just on beat.
I would speak, they would laugh. I'd speak, they'd laugh. And then after that I felt like. Not like an ego thing or whatever. I felt like I was above everybody. Like, you're special. Like you're like you are in the room of 30, 40 people and everything that you said they love, you made them happy, made them laugh.
And so not everybody is capable of doing that. So you're special. And so just walking out of the, the room, it was just like, float like a floating feeling, man. I remember going to the movie theaters and just like still high, like that feeling where it's like, man, I'm somebody, but I'm not exactly.
"I matter in life". And that as a comic, that's what you want. You want to matter to people because that is what contributes to your success. But then I've had more people I've been, I've done shows in front of 100 and 200 hundred people and, killed it.
And the high man is; you're just untouchable. You know, everything you say and the reaction and when you hear those waves of laughter hits you.. It it's, it's a drug and that's what keeps a lot of people going back and trying to perfect their craft and do better. And, but then I've had times where.
I've done stand up in front of five people and the girl in front of me would just texting the whole time I do my set. And I remember that, that was the first time I did stand up like a year and a few months ago. So like you remember these things and, but the high is what keeps you going back.
And so that's what keeps me trying to perfect a joke or rewrite it, or, just try to be better.
Steven: [00:10:03] I love that. So, in life; one of the four agreements is what don't take it personal? Is there a point in comedy where you can grow to the point where that one girl you're just like, "I know, I matter because 300 people just told me", get off your damn phone or it doesn't matter or is it always an exposed nerve?
Does it always, you always kind of looking for that, that click, that acceptance.
Jojo White: [00:10:27] Yeah, for me, I think it's a gray mat, like in the gray. It's like, I'm going to go up there. And if I have jokes that I know work, and it doesn't hit. It's okay. Because not every room is the same, not every room has the same energy. You may have a whole room that is not focused. That could be just side chat and conversations, or, I could do it at a bar and it's just a bunch of people who don't care, who just drunk and don't care about comedy. They're there watching the game and you come in, like here's stand up, be prepared to lie.
Steven: [00:11:07] Leave a dontation...
Jojo White: [00:11:08] Exactly! I'm somebody, but you don't know me. So, there's that gray area where, you don't, you don't take it to heart, but naturally we want the whole room to care because we want everyone to laugh and that's, that's the secret, that's the goal.
And, I've been there. I had material where I would, I'd done for months and I'd go to the improv. I do it, kill it, whatever people would clap, you know, I do it all over St. Pete and Tampa. Perfect. And then I got a gig to go up to Tennessee to do, like a host in slash do my, run my material for like 10 minutes.
And, I did. And so it's like, I know my material. I know when the laughter should come, should come because I've done it for months. And I know when I hit these certain words, there should be laugh, but it wasn't like that when I went to Tennessee. And so it didn't, it didn't trans, I don't know if it did transition good or translate well, or, it's a different place.
It was for a college kids. There could have been anything, but it didn't discourage me from keeping that material because I know it works. It could, it's one night, I think Chappelle was like, not every comedians is prone to a bad night. Even him,
Steven: [00:12:24] "Any given Sunday", right?
Jojo White: [00:12:25] Yeah, exactly. So it happens and, I had one girl, a black girl, she was like, she called me a racist.
So that was fun. and, you know, I'm mixed, I'm, you know, I'm like, and I was like, how am I going to hate myself? But, It was just so weird because I was so confident and I knew it worked, but it didn't feel like I got laughs and everything, but it wasn't what I was used to. And so it's like, all right, onto the next.
Steven: [00:12:53] I don't know if this is related, but it's something I've always wondered. You can kind of see how comedians even talk about it. Chappelle just did in his recent, how your community, maybe there's two paths. You either ebb and flow with society, cultural norms, what's cool, what's not cool, what's taboo, what's not. And then there's some that just kind of go against it. And I think the odds are even lower for the ones who actually make it are the ones who disappear.
How do you kind of manage, you know, even selfishly with this, I think about what can I talk about, what "can't" I talk about on this. I don't want to upset anybody, but I also want to speak my truth.
How do you kind of navigate that?
Jojo White: [00:13:34] I believe that you can't, you can't put comedy in a box. If you do that, then you're limiting the last form of free speech. It's all for everyone to interpret and, you know. A lot of times behind what comedians are saying, there's no malice behind it. It's our messed up perspective on life.
And this is how we cope with things around us. So for me, I mean, like I have certain rules that I don't talk about or I don't go far into, and it's only because I want to create broader opportunities for me.
Like I don't want to limit my opportunities because if you're raunchy or dirty, then you can't do certain things over here. So it limits you to what you're able to do. Yeah. it's, it's tough. It's tougher for comedians that are not known that don't have a name for themselves because they're the ones that are going against the grain.
It's because the risk, the risk and everything, you know, not everyone is going to like them and to go in a room and talk about, what's happening in society, the culture ..
Steven: [00:14:43] Maybe on the individual, depends on what culture they're "of". Maybe some can get away with more than others?
Jojo White: [00:14:49] Oh, for sure. For sure. I feel like being mixed. I can get away with anything. Like I can say white jokes. I can say black jokes, but, not everyone likes that, but whatever. And I think if you're clever, if you truly craft a joke and it is good, then you can get away with murder. I mean, I truly believe if it is funny, like it may not be to everyone, but for the majority, if it's crafted really well, like I think you can get away with anything.
Steven: [00:15:21] So you feel like we, the audience can subconsciously sense your motive? So is your motive to be raunchy? Is your motive to offer an alternate perspective, in a funny way? Because I feel like that's what you guys do. You take the universe and you objectify it and you stretch it and you say, but look at it from this angle, why is the cat always licking it's butt... it just weird things and it makes you think twice about it. So when it comes to race, I think, sorry to jump in on this, but I think when it's done, right, it reminds us that we're all the same. Yeah. If it's done, right?
Jojo White: [00:15:54] Yeah. I mean, I think so. It's mo, most of the audience, if you're a known comic, they know what they're going to get for the most part, you know. Whether you're Bill Burr, Chappelle, whether like you're going in there, you know what you're going to get for the comics that are unknown and you have the crowd it's, I dunno, as comics were like, if you don't like me, I'm not going to change who I am.
I'm not going to change me as a person and what I think, and my perspectives and views, and.. You know, change for you. And I think those are the people that, essentially, like if they stay at it, they make something of themselves. They, you build your fan base there's trillion of people, trillions of people in the world.
And if you keep at it, like somebody is going to like your stuff if it's good, if it's written good. So I don't know, man.
Steven: [00:16:48] I love that. So how have you found, how long have you been doing comedy?
Jojo White: [00:16:52] I've been doing sketch comedy. I've been writing sketches for like, Oh man, like seven, eight years.
Steven: [00:16:58] Damn.
Jojo White: [00:16:59] Yeah. And then stand up. I've been doing it for a year.
Steven: [00:17:05] Okay.
Jojo White: [00:17:05] But then COVID happened. And so I've just kinda been on break and, you know,
Steven: [00:17:09] Just hopping on networks, no big deal?
Jojo White: [00:17:12] Just, whoever picks me up the, you people see my name and like, Hey, join me. Yeah. I've been focusing more on sketch, trying to stay creative and stuff and I'll write premises for standup or ideals that I have.
Steven: [00:17:25] So let me jump in. So eight, eight years, seven plus one. So eight years, how have you, how has your life changed? How has your self management, your reflection, your meditation, however you do that. How has that changed as you've learned the inner workings of how comedy affects you and affects other people?
Jojo White: [00:17:50] My life, man, I think for me personally, it's given me a lot more confidence, and confidence speaks volumes with anything job interviews, like people read body language, and can see when someone's confident about something and, or see if the, if they're scared and initially like, initially, like when you go on stage, like people can see if you're scared on stage, like you have these little ticks and things, and you put your hands in your pocket or you keep scratching at your face.
And so people see these things and they read you. But, if you come off confident, then it's almost like you're, you're forcing the audience to believe regardless if certain things resonate with them or not. But believe that it's funny. So there's a lot of psychological, like mind Jedi stuff than just telling a joke on the stage. Because I can focus on one person in the audience and the only person that's laughing and keep on going at them and going back and forth because, Hey, they're giving me the feedback that I want.
So if another person sees it, they're laughing, then that may make them question themselves like, Oh man,
Steven: [00:19:04] But like, "is this funny?" "Am I just being dull?"
Jojo White: [00:19:06] Exactly. Like this may be really funny. And then hopefully it is spreads like a fire, you know, you know was times when, like you were a kid you're with your friends, like y'all just playing around, you laugh and he's laughing then it's or like one friend who just keeps laughing and laughing and laughing.
You could be over the stupidest thing, but yeah then you start to laugh because it's so ridiculous and so stupid and laughter is contagious like that.
Steven: [00:19:32] So what to you is the definition. Not of comed,y of funny? If we can, can be, if we can be convinced that something is funny, what is that?
What is "funny"?
Jojo White: [00:19:44] Well, Oh man, what is funny? I think it's for everyone to, their own interpretation for me. It's I mean, it's, I got a big range of, what's funny from dark to silly. I..
Steven: [00:19:57] Then what's the common denominator under all of that? How can one person laugh because someone else's, how can they be convinced that something's funny just because they're laughing.
Jojo White: [00:20:06] I think it's just a psychological thing. I don't, I don't know. I think. It could like there's different variables. If that one person's not, if that one person's not paying attention, they, and they're noticing this person that's laughing a lot, then maybe that causes them to focus more. And then, there's just different things.
so it's just to me, it's like when you're in a room and someone yawns. And then someone sees that yawn and then it just, whatever it is, it causes them to yawn. And then there's been studies on that; how like contagious, a yawn can be and I think that translates with laughing as well.
Yeah, it could be anything.
Maybe they're just not, I don't know maybe they're just not focusing it. Maybe. I don't know, Matt. I just forced people to think I'm funny. That's
Steven: [00:20:50] Nah, man, I love ya. I'm not trying to put you on the spot.
Jojo White: [00:20:52] No, no, no, no. You're good. You're good.
Steven: [00:20:53] The takeaway from that that's really cool is; no matter what you're doing in life, if you can get one fan.
That's all you need, because like you just said, you can have a rough crowd. All you need is one person. And if you focus on that one person, it can spread through them.
Jojo White: [00:21:08] Yeah, I don't know. I, and again, I think there's a psychological factor where someone may look at somebody who's laughing a lot and be like, Oh, maybe this person is really funny.
And I just, I don't want to be left out because a lot of people don't want to be the odd person out or whatever. Maybe it spreads like that. But, to go back to like your initial question, what, what was that,
Steven: [00:21:31] How has this journey of comedy affected your personal life? How you manage emotions, crisis,
Jojo White: [00:21:38] Yeah, I think it's helped me to be able to, just to manage anxiety because anxiety was huge. When I was going into of I remember I was like, put my name on the list and then the person before me, I would wait like an hour and a half. And the person before me would be called up and then I would just go out and cross my name.
Like, man, I waited too long. I got to go eat or so I got to go, my mom want me home. So I think it's definitely helped me with anxiety. Like I'm more comfortable on stage. And so I see that when I'm out in public, like when, when I'm on stage I've, I've had to let go of caring so much about what people think of me. And so now when I go out, it's like, I don't feel that anymore. I don't feel that anxiety, you know, I used to, get anxiety about having to ask a manager or something about, "do you have this in a store?" or approach a random stranger, but now man, I I'll talk to a wall. I'll talk to cereal box.
I'll talk to a little baby, not in a weird way, but I'll say, Hey, You know, I talk to anybody, man, because it's people, I love people, people are so different. And so they, comedies definitely built that up for me. And now it's like, I love talking to people and again, it just makes me feel good.
And that's, that's how I got into comedy because I dealt with so much depression and then I, I noticed like being with my friends, being in a circle or like being at church and just like having people, old people, young people laugh and laugh, and it's once you get people laughing, it's you want to keep on, you want to keep on trying to get them laugh.
You want to, like, I'm trying to make you pee in your pants. If I can. That's my goal. If I can get you to spit your drink out, like that's my goal. And it kind of like, it was like a moment of clarity where it's like, yo. Why can't I do this for a living. And so I was like, let me try to stand up and say it was hard.
But, I have, I've taken elements away from successful people and applied it to my life. And so living by that; I drastically got fast.., like better, faster, and, better than people that's been in the scene for a while. And, you know, and, and in the most humble way. In fact, if I could say that, that just clears everything up, but it's not me that recognize it.
Yeah. it's everyone else. The people that like, Oh, you want to do a show? Oh, you want to do this? You want to do that? Like giving me more opportunities.
Steven: [00:24:23] So what's a bad day look like?
Jojo White: [00:24:25] Man getting off of work, shoot man, ordering Uber eats, watching a, watching a movie, you know, cuddling. I'm not saying it's a bad day. My girl's listening, whatever she's going to listen. It's not a bad day. It's still good day. I like being with you, babe. But, I see, she would agree as well.
Cause she's a writer too, but you know, we have those days. I'm not saying those are bad, I think for mental health, those days are needed. But when those days are consecutive turns into days to weeks to month and I'm not being productive, I'm not producing something at least once a week, then that's a bad day for me.
Steven: [00:25:08] So how do you climb out of creative block, the ebb and flow of your muse?
Jojo White: [00:25:13] Man, me, what do I do? I, it eats at me so much. Like it literally eats at me. I don't know how to describe it for somebody. It's man, if you, I know I don't get paid for this right now, but it's if you had a job and you know, you had a project and, and you don't do it and you're going to get fired.
And just all of that, like that's me. If I don't do it every day, I'm getting fired every day. The, the more that I don't contribute towards my goals and dreams or my craft, the further the, the reward gets from me. So I could easily bring that closer with producing content or whatever I'm doing, but, it eats up it like, it's a feeling in my heart.
It's in my soul, it's in my bones, man. It's people like this dude's weird, hippy dippy stuff. But, yeah, it eats at me and if I'm not doing it's, it's some point it's like, I got to do something. And whether start jotting down premises or looking at old stuff. Yeah, so, so what I do is I'll, I always have my phone, I always have all my notes. and it helps having a partner who is just as equally creative. And so you just, you have to be your own best motivator. If you can't motivate yourself, you'll never do it. Like you'll never make it with whatever you're doing. You can't rely on other people.
Like you have to be able to pull yourself out of things. Yeah. There may be occasions where people will help you get out, but when you're alone, when you're in COVID times, when you're by yourself, if you can't pull yourself out of the rut, like it might not be for you. If it doesn't bother you to your core, it might not be your thing.
Steven: [00:27:02] I love that. But what do you mean specifically?
What is not your thing? The thing you're trying to chase or the thing you're avoiding that you think you should have,
So maybe, clarify?
Jojo White: [00:27:11] I think for a lot of people, there's things that they would love to do. You know, everyone would love to be a celebrity.
Steven: [00:27:20] I love it. Yes.
Jojo White: [00:27:21] Everyone would love to live the lavish life.
Everyone would love to be on stage in front of thousands, but. It's, it's not for everybody. If it was, and everyone would be doing what they love. And so if, if it doesn't bother you, if it doesn't rattle your bones, then it might not be the most important thing to you, you know? Yeah. I'd love to, you know, have a lamborghini, but if I'm not doing the things I need to do to get one, then maybe I don't love it that much. So yeah. That's the best way I can describe it. So yeah, I just try to pull myself out, man. And what about you, same?
Steven: [00:28:07] Me. Well, I'm literally sitting here appreciating what you're saying, because what I hear you saying, I feel like myself included. I'll just speak for myself.
There are so many things that I've wanted to do in my life. And there's so many different things that I've tried, you know, throwing shit at the wall, whatever you want to call it. When things don't work out, it's like, shit, "was that a waste of time?" "Did I choose the wrong thing?" But I, I love how you said that because it's not; like, sure there are plenty of things that I'd love to do or love to be, but it's your actions that you can kind of reflect on that show you what you're really striving for.
Kind of an odd example, but maybe like a year ago I was in a major slump and I was nihilistic. I was just like, screw everything, I'm done. I don't want to do this anymore. But at the same time I was brushing my teeth. I was going for a walk every day.
It's really silly, but I thought of it when I was brushing my teeth. And I said to myself, Jojo, "Why the hell am I brushing my teeth?" If I really don't care, like my mind is saying right now, why am I brushing my teeth? Just let them fall out. Why am I still taking care of myself? And yet I feel like I don't care.
And what that told me was somewhere deep down inside of me, I care a lot more than I feel right now. So I leaned on that and you know, I, I climbed out of my slump. So in what you're saying is if we pay closer attention to our actions, what we're doing and not doing. Kind of on a subconscious level, cause it just happens, automatic mode.
We can use that as a compass to kind of figure out; what are we chasing because we should be doing that or because we think we're supposed to do that versus what we're naturally drawn to, what we're born for.
Jojo White: [00:29:52] Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think that there's a majority of the population that are destined for greatness.
But not everyone like will reach that. And I think it's just because of the lack of effort or, the, the just the unawareness of this is for them. And yeah, I believe like even with like kids, like try as many things as you want to try, because it's only going to narrow the thing.
Like you'll truly find what you love out of that. And there's always growth from things that you try, you know, you find things out about yourself. But yeah, I,
Yeah, it's, I don't know, you have to.. One of my, one of my favorite quotes is, "a lot of people want to be great to start, but you have to start in order to be great." And so a lot of people don't greatness right away, and it doesn't happen like that. Like all these people that's successful, whether TV or music or whatever, like they've had to put in the time and everything they've had to, you know, sacrifice.
And if that thing that you love is not worth sacrificing, then may it, maybe it's not for you. I don't know. That's just something I can speak for myself. And, and maybe it helps other people to kind of like, look at what they're really doing. And I'm not saying it's bad to want a normal life, to work 9 to 5 and come home and, watch movies with the girl or alone or play games, like whatever makes you happy.
Whatever brings you happiness in life. And for me, it's stand up. I can come home and watch movies and stuff. It gives me some sort of fulfillment, but it's not the happiness that stand up gives me. It's not the happiness that creative, like creating gives me because still watching movies, I find myself looking at how they're filming this movie. The things that they're saying, like practical things that would happen that they're not doing.
Steven: [00:31:53] So I call that shifting from being a consumer to an observer. So it happened to me with books for awhile I was just blindly consuming all this, but now I look at it; like what frame of mind was the author in when they wrote this, what are their intentions? What's, what's really lurking underneath their mind as they write, you know..
Jojo White: [00:32:12] No. No, exactly. And that's, I think that's just that next level of, of, wanting growth. Like what can you, what what's their minds, their mindset, what's their perspective?
And then you do that with everything else. Then you take that perspective and you can look at other things in that perspective, or like just different points of views and maybe you start to empathize with people more. Instead of just having a narrow mind and shutting off your brain and just consuming stuff. And that's creators for you,
Steven: [00:32:46] So do you remember the moment when you either decided, or it just naturally clicked for you that comedy, bits, standup was you, was your natural gravity?
Jojo White: [00:32:59] Well as a kid, I was always goofy. I always made people laugh. I always, everybody, you know, my family seen my butt and stuff, even my grandma, like I was just that kid.
So I, I didn't think that showing my butt would get me money and I don't do that now.
Steven: [00:33:18] They have places for that.
Jojo White: [00:33:19] Exactly. I don't know if I'm willing to go down that road yet, but nah, I was just, man, I was just in such a cycle where like I enjoyed making people laugh and I never, I never was aware. I never was like really.
Like woke to the point where I was taking a step away from myself and looking at the things that I'm doing and what's bringing me the happiness, because, I battled with depression for most of my life and part of it not knowing what was going on with me, and, I would just find those temporary pleasures, those temporary happiness.
Those things that would make me happy for the moment. And, those weren't always good. And so I think that man, honestly, I think that when I had probably like my first best set on stage, like I knew okay, this is for me, like that feeling. It's something about being on a stage. Being able to, you know, give your energy to people.
And, and what you're doing as a stand-up comic is you're, you're creating happiness. You're really releasing endorphins in there. You're changing them chemically at that moment. You're causing them to re, release endorphins and feel happiness. So at that moment, I think that laughter when you're laughing at your hardest, you were at your happiest moment in life because you're not thinking of the worst things. Like you, it's, you're just happy, pure, just happiness and you want more of that.
And I don't think there's a lot of things that can bring that feeling and to be able to be on stage and to be able to. Have people forget about their troubles for 10 minutes, for 5 minutes, for 10 minutes, for 20 minutes. And to get away from their stresses their anxieties to, will I have enough money for, rent, all of that for that moment.
That's what brings me back. That's what's special about standup. Like that's what like gives me this high, so it's, it's a drug, so don't do drugs kids.
Steven: [00:35:37] So it's like a selfish slash selfless act?
Jojo White: [00:35:41] Yeah.
Steven: [00:35:41] It's part therapy for you. Get your, get your shit out, but then you're able to affect the world. Like you're almost like hitting a button and saying, be happy.
Jojo White: [00:35:50] Exactly. Yeah. If you're not happy, then get out of here. It's so weird, I never thought about that. It's selfless. But also selfish at the same time, because you want people to like, you want to be the best. You want to be the only special person in the room, but I also want to bring happiness to people.
And when I was dealing with depression and stuff, I noticed that like, when I would make people laugh, that would feed into my endorphins and happiness. Was it healthy, maybe not, but you know, it kept me going back and trying to get better and maneuver through all of that while trying to get help as well on the side.
Steven: [00:36:35] So you mentioned, years of depression. How old were you when that kind of started? And what was that like?
Jojo White: [00:36:41] Well, I didn't, like, I didn't know what depression was. I didn't know why I felt the way I felt. Why you know, like I, hit my head on the wall as a kid. Well, I did the things that I did, why I felt empty sometimes.
And like growing up, like with single mom and stuff, like it was, it was, like, "Suck it up", like you're good like depression, wasn't a the thing. So,
Steven: [00:37:10] Wasn't a thing that was talked about?
Jojo White: [00:37:12] Yeah, it wasn't talked about a lot. It wasn't like a, there was no awareness about depression. It was like, you're good.
Tough, toughen up, your life's not that bad, go from there. Like, you'll be, you'll be fine. But I think, let me see, probably like 2000, 2009, 2010 or so is when I really started to be aware of like the things that I was going through and like, life could be going good for me, even, even now, like, life will be good and it'll come out of nowhere.
And I be like, man, I feel empty. I feel like I don't want to do anything. Like I just want to lay in bed and, you know, I think the important thing is, having some, having your friends know when you're going through that or having your partner know. And I'm thankful that my partner is there for me in those instances, because it's like, Hey, it happened; one of those days.
And so she knows what to do to, to get me out. Like whether, you know, wrestle me, take me outside fresh air, let's go exercise.
Steven: [00:38:19] So are you saying sometimes it just creeps up not related to any kind of specific circumstance?
Jojo White: [00:38:25] Yeah. Yeah. and sometimes there there's triggers, but then sometimes like I it'll come out of nowhere and I'll, I'll feel just, just empty.
I'll feel sad. I'll feel. I feel alone and that's like the scariest thing. But, like my worst, my worst time of like depression was like, when I was, I was married and stuff and.
I realized as I started to grow in myself and everything, I realized that like a lot of things in my past affected me as a person now, a lot of ways as being raised or, or situations that had happened to me as a kid affected me now.
And I always had the tough mentality, like, like, I'll be fine to suppress it. You'll be fine. When I go through these little things, just power through it. "You'll be fine." And naturally a lot of males are like that. Like, you have to be tough. You can't break down anybody. You can't. So naturally, like when I would go through these things, these depressions, it started getting more and more and more because I wasn't happy.
And, I started reaching out and, and, and just doing things that were just bad for me as a person, you know, drugs, just sexual stuff. And, it was just like the worst time of my life.
And. when I decided like like my marriage and stuff was wasn't "it" any more and I couldn't give anything else. And I had I just felt messed up as a person and and just just lost who I was so that I decided that that wasn't it So we we separated and stuff and. But then that's when the depression hit like like the worst in my life. Like I had bad times I thought were bad but this was, this was a different beast. And just feeling like I was the worst person like ever and and like you know. You know when you hurt somebody and you you you can just hear that person in your head. And that was like that every day And uh
I didn't I didn't want to be here. Like I didn't want to experience that every day. I didn't want to experience the hurt, I didn't want to experience days where I were just empty like my heart and everything, it just felt cold. And luckily I had somebody around me that that cared enough for me which is funny because we had just met in comedy and we just started, we just started like we just clicked.
And I think that that was a blessing because I don't know if I didn't have her or anybody or like the close friends that I do that I wouldn't have been here because it was just so bad that like I wanted to take pills and just just just go to sleep and not be here anymore. And um you know I just cry myself tonight cry myself to sleep every night and just it. I would just beat myself up, like you know when you're I guess when you're in that for me I tend to focus on yeah you don't focus on good things I focus on all the bad things, and..
Steven: [00:42:33] Play the tape over and over and over
Jojo White: [00:42:36] Yeah and you you hear that person you hear these situations you hear when you hurt people. And so the best thing for me was like; just not be here. And she she just reminded me like you know that I have people that care for me and that I needed to be here, that I had a purpose.
But it was it it was the worst, the worst depression. And it it ran for months. And I and I remember like you know she took me to like a concert that I wanted to go to and like it was like yeah it was good, it was fun I I I was happy in that moment and because I guess maybe my attention was off of everything but as soon as as soon as I got back it was like I was like yo I'm still here
It's I mean as as a comedian like uh just how I cope with stuff laugh laugh laugh it off or whatever But
Steven: [00:43:54] So looking back on that have you; is it far enough away where you can kind of see the lesson in that experience or you can see the growth or the reason I mean there's a reason why we experience pain. There's a reason why we experience regret. Have you gotten to that point with that chapter?
Jojo White: [00:44:12] Yeah Uh I mean I I'm at the point where I'm aware of the past from a young age and how how it's affected me now as as a grown man and I never paid attention to it. I never you know uh. Just like that that doesn't control me but I suppressed it and it it was the force behind me acting out or doing things that..
Finding "happiness" and whether it be drugs or whatever and just different areas in my life when I wasn't happy. Like when depression would creep in it was like okay let me find something that makes me happy, right away. And that was me coping and dealing with it. And th that shouldn't have been the case. So uh so it it's it's helped me to be aware of my flaws and the things I need to work on as a person and that I need help.
Steven: [00:45:25] Can't do it alone, No lone soldier?
Jojo White: [00:45:28] Aye Aye I don't think anybody should do it alone You know especially when you deal with something like this. It's it's scary because all it takes is to get you at the right time you know be alone or when there's not a lot of people because it wants you to cut everybody off. It wants you to isolate isolate yourself; like isolation is the thing and that's where it gets dangerous. Because when you're isolated and your mind is running and like you're thinking of the worst things. You know all it takes is a moment of weakness to act on anything, so..
Steven: [00:46:18] That's what the semi-colon is for, pause, because like you said, it takes one moment
Jojo White: [00:46:24] Yeah I've seen I've seen people who have those tattoos just as a reminder . So but you know is it over? No. I I you know uh I do experience like mild times of it when it comes and stuff and especially being in COVID and changing you know. You things that make me happy like creatively. Yeah I write a write sketches I film.
But you know there's there's like I said there's no feeling like being on a stage and you know it's it's been tough and I'm just thankful I have a partner who understands and who knows when I'm in that head space who knows what to do. Who knows how to listen, who knows how to just be there and that's and that's you know uh she she saved my life and I tell her that because like it it was bad
Steven: [00:47:46] Oh man I'm just I'm sitting here I appreciating you
I kind of on this mission I feel like there has to be a reason we feel depressed. It's like why why is that a part of the system, you know?
Jojo White: [00:48:07] It's I read up on it because I was like man what is this? Like what is this stuff and so like obviously there's two forms of it were you have like a chemical imbalance and then there's just an emotional imbalance. And that's the chemical imbalances I guess both of them you just suppress it with medicine or I honestly don't know. Like I I see a therapist.
So, for me talking helps me. And when I'm aware I had I had a time like a few weeks ago where I woke up and I just I felt empty and it was just weird as out of the blue. I told my partner; I was like I feel distant from you. And it's so weird because; we were good, we've been fine. But that's just when it comes knocking it's it's not going to give you a heads up. It's not going to
Steven: [00:49:06] But it's also huge that you could objectify your emotion and communicate that to her. That's huge
Jojo White: [00:49:13] That's something that I learned from like my marriage. Is like, I didn't communicate and I didn't give my partner at the time the opportunity to be there. To help me and so now like my foundation is is communicate through everything. Yeah, sometimes I over-communicate and my partner lets me know. She's like "why are we still talking about this?" Some but I would rather do that because I've seen the under communication side of me and I don't want that.
So, yeah, so when I'm feeling off I'm like "I'm feeling off", I don't know what it is. So you know, bear with me like send me a lot of texts saying you love me you know. Like, fill me up fill my love tank up, whatever you gotta do. Just be here for me until I figure it out. And and some some that times the last time we talked and we talked and we talked and I recognize okay it's probably just depression creeping in. You know everything is good but it's just it's a feeling like try to focus on good things; exercise do the things that produce good chemicals in your body.
Steven: [00:50:39] It's amazing how powerful those basic things are; sleep, water, healthy food choices. It's amazing. And we all avoid it, like it's the plague..
Jojo White: [00:50:50] Exactly man. It's so like it's so it's so crazy. Like I'm not saying it cures it but it definitely helps a lot. You know when you have a healthy body
Steven: [00:51:00] Gives you a fair shot
Jojo White: [00:51:02] A fair shot and that's, and sometimes you know a lot of people wish that they just had that fair shot
Steven: [00:51:08] Yes. That's what medication did for me. So I learned that medication was never going to "fix it". It was never going to solve "it". I was blessed to have a psychologist psychiatrist I always get that mixed up but I was blessed enough to have him tell me that from the very beginning. "Steven, this is not going to "fix" you." This is literally going to give you a fair shot. It's going to get you out of those depths so that you can figure your shit out. You can work it out, develop habits, objectify your like all those things. It's a fair shot
Jojo White: [00:51:41] And a lot I liked that. Once you know that "Hey this won't fix you" now you won't ever hold on to that. You won't ever hold onto like okay one day I'll be fixed; One day I'll be fixed, I'm broken, I'm broken, I'm broken. Now you'll have like okay I can get through this.
Steven: [00:52:01] And you'll have accountability You'll realize it's up to me, not this little bottle that's on my counter Hmm
Jojo White: [00:52:09] So that's yeah man
Steven: [00:52:12] Thank you for sharing that
Jojo White: [00:52:13] Yeah Yeah I don't talk about it a lot and until I have episodes or whatever but um. You know I know everybody goes through something, some form or form of struggle but. Find, again find what makes you happy and stick to that and cling on to that and keep people around you and communicate.
Because when you don't and again you get isolated and it can just go the wrong way. But when you yeah. Yeah and when you when you have people that care and when they know and you give them the chance to be there for you; then that can that can truly be a lifesaver especially in my case.
Steven: [00:53:00] Well put, you give them a chance
Jojo White: [00:53:03] Yeah, that's it.
Steven: [00:53:06] I think it was a Garth Brooks, he had a song lyrics that said "you get the love that you allow"
Jojo White: [00:53:15] Cuz people get in that state and they they shut and I'm guilty. Like I'll shut people off because, because when like. It's you it's draining to communicate to people like when you're going through it when you're going through the battle it is so emotionally exhausting. And that's why people just want to lay in bed. That's why I wanna lay in bed because it is so exhausting.
To get out of bed to talk with somebody about everything. But I try to force myself to do it because I know that's the healthy option and I don't want to look towards the past. And I know what the bottom feels like. I know what having suicidal thoughts feel like. I and I know that's not a good place.
So I have to talk to people and I've told myself I have to talk to people when I'm like that. There's no other option and it's just exhausting but you have to.
Steven: [00:54:18] I remember telling myself "you can't think your way through this". You think well I have all this brain power I can figure this out somehow but there's no way to think through it .You have to go out and, like you said, talk to somebody, do something.
Jojo White: [00:54:30] Yeah I I thought that I could do that; I thought that I could think my way through. I thought that I could suppress it. But what it did was just eat me up inside.
Steven: [00:54:40] Literally
Jojo White: [00:54:41] Yeah. And it it in in when I would be at in the slump I would find whatever it is to make me feel "happiness" at any cost and risking my character, risking my health, and yeah.
Steven: [00:55:02] Did you perform during this time?
Jojo White: [00:55:04] Yeah that was I was.. So when I was going through the transition and and moving my stuff out and just crying every night for like two months straight. Just balled up and literally having like my friend just hold me and just like it's going to be okay. Every night, it was like I would do stand up the night before or that night.
But it's the moment when you; when there's silence, it's when there's silence like up was my therapy. Like I was I was doing like 3, 4, sometimes 5 mics a week to keep my mind going to find that instant happiness so that I didn't go to drugs or or any other form of temporary happiness. And it was it was it I'm realizing this right now Oh like
It it was just at night when my mind when my mind had like silence and had time to think about everything and dwell on everything. Like that's when it got me. And so I'm just seeing it now. It's like again, like talking about being alone and stuff but like seeing and that's when it got me and it's just it's just wild looking back at it now.
Steven: [00:56:35] You almost didn't want to go to bed
Jojo White: [00:56:37] Yeah, exactly. Like I I would go get off work 5:30 and I would be at a mic from 7 to 10, 10:30 / 11 sometimes. And do it again the next day. Monday, Tuesday go to Tampa or St Pete Monday Tuesday Thursday hopefully have a show on Friday or or find something. Sometimes Wednesdays and do it on Sundays. So it was just filling that void that emptiness with laughter.
And it goes back to that selflessness of like making, wanting people to be happy. But also dealing with the beast inside of me as well. And when I made people happy that made me happy for that moment until it I got a laid down at night and then but my partner is there and she she she saved me So yeah
So I'm thankful every day that I wake up now you know cause life is precious, it's valuable, and you know what happens after life, nobody really knows. And that's, you know, it's that's a scary thought as well. And but when you're wrapped up like you don't think that way you don't think about the people around you. You think that people would be better off and really you would hurt a lot of people that care
Steven: [00:58:26] I saw a really good say I won't say quote but line in regard to that. And It's not that people who commit suicide necessarily want to hurt themselves; they just want the pain to stop.
Jojo White: [00:58:42] Yeah Yeah, they want the pain, they want the pain to go away. They want the emptiness, they.. For me it's feeling alone And you don't want to feel those feelings anymore or feeling that you hurt somebody and knowing that you caused them pain.
Me, I'm very empathetic. Like I can empathize with a lot of people. I can yeah I can feel it what people feel. I can put myself in their shoes and flip it and see me and feel things that I do to people. And that's what hurts the most; is being able to feel that and it's tough.
It's like you know do do I want that to go away? No because I want to be able to you know understand people but also it If I'm the cause of the hurt then that's what hurts me
It's like, um, you know people who don't understand depression, depression that's like that.. They think that money, they think that fame, and there's several examples but like I think everyone knows Robin Williams.
Robin Williams and the dude was just pure happiness a ball of happiness and energy. And he made everybody happy around them and laugh and you watch his movies and you just feel the happiness. But again that's; when you battle with this depression, it's like when all that's gone when you're alone or whatever you know or if you're just suppressing it and it slowly eats at you.
And I don't know if he reached out or what but you know it can get the best of people. It's not all about money or what's in your bank account, it's really just an imbalance in your body chemically or emotionally and it's just tough.
Steven: [01:00:58] Yeah I've been reading his book. It's, it's a very interesting story about how he grew up and how he went to school and the crazy nights and living in LA and running from drug to drug, woman to woman. It's a similar it's almost not an original story. The more people share their story, the more this comes out, the more celebrities, the more truth you realize about celebrities; and that's that's what I wonder; is like why is this a thing?
I have a question for you. So when you've mentioned a couple times, "you feel so alone." Unpack that for me and before you do that I've thought about that and I've I can empathize with you in so many ways. This is a it reminds me of a lot of things but I remember feeling so alone until reading whatever I saw a couple of things and I put it together that made me wonder; "am I actually alone, because I'm still here?" It's when I didn't realize I was here and that I have a relationship with myself. And and you talked about this with; kind of getting the "external happy" versus the "internal happy". With all that said what w what does that alone feeling feel like?
Jojo White: [01:02:21] I mean uh that's good. Cause I I mean I think for what you said like I am still learning to love myself and let go a lot of things in the past and not depending on others for gratification or any kind of self-worth, you know. Cause when you can do that yourself and and you know who you are, then I think that you know lessens the feeling of feeling alone because you know who you are and you know that you know it's it's fine.
Feeling alone dude, uh it's it's it's weird. It's when you're in a dark place, you don't, you don't think of the good things. Um you know when you argue with a spouse or a friend or whatever, a lot of arguments tend to focus on the bad and you overlook a lot of the good, you know. You know it's like if I was in an argument and said like you never do anything sweet for me because I'm so focused on the moment that she you know a person didn't do something sweet to me. But then if the person's like well this morning I did this, yesterday I did this this, over the weekend we just I did this for you.
Because we're so fixated on that bad or that emptiness or not getting what you, what's the root of the argument or whatever. So like feeling alone it's like nobody cares. I think that's that's the big part of it is that no one cares about you. And that's just probably where I lack. Just love for myself and and I acknowledge about myself that like it's not needing to rely on other people but it it's a feeling It's a feeling that nobody cares, nobody loves you
it's just empty. And I think love is one of the greatest emotions that someone can give and you can feel and there's nothing like it. And when that's not there and you feel alone and isolate yourself then that's just where it gets tiring and you don't want to do it anymore and you just want to sleep and not wake up
And you know there's there's there's a lot with religion in me as well. And you know uh God and trying to understand that he's there as well .But you know when you're shaking uh I've I've been my my partner turned turned me on to Oprah network. But it's so good. So she has like these Sunday service kind of things or but it's not necessarily like you know just Christianity and Buddhism, just like all of these principles and like a religion.
Steven: [01:05:55] So how did you do you remember the point at which it felt like you were climbing out and things were progressing, getting better? The bouts with "bad days", sad days were getting fewer and farther between?
Jojo White: [01:06:13] Honestly it took everything in my partner to, I leaned on her heavy and she was there for me. She she would tell me the things that I need to hear. And some days would be better than others. Some days I'd go forward but then the next I'd go backwards and she'd have to repeat herself. And it's just a constant like chipping away of, trying to rewire the thinking and trying to stop thinking in a negative light and trying to stay positive and not stop for me stop dwelling on it.
You know this is done, there's nothing you can change but you can change yourself. You can't change the past but you can change yourself and prevent from doing that again. And it literally, it's not looking a week ahead a month ahead. It's taking each day at a time because each day brought a different feeling or a different situation or it allowed me to feel okay.
But then the next day it'd be back. And so literally it's a day by day thing and it's a constant reassurance and a constant changing your your thinking process and trying to remember the good, remember the positives and and relying on that.
And so yeah, just gradually it started to get better for me. But I knew it wasn't fixed , um, I can only work on myself so much but uh you know. That's when I saw professional expertise and to to kind of analyze me and help me maneuver through things. And why am I thinking like this. And why why was I like this.
And, and so that's what I did and I still do it today. And that was over a year and few months ago. So it's a constant work and trying to find things that help you get stronger, get better, change your thought process.
Now it doesn't mean that I don't occasionally feel bad like talking about all of this brings up those same emotions because I hate feeling that way I hate knowing that I did the things that I did. I hate knowing that I hurt the people that I hurt and so I just do everything in my power not to be that same way
Steven: [01:09:02] My father said something very wise with respect to relationships and you know a lot of times relationships don't work out because of whatever reason. But the thing that he said was he said it's one thing to forgive the other person for whatever whatever they did and whatever they didn't do, the real challenge is forgiving yourself.
Jojo White: [01:09:23] And that's that's just something that it is hard for me, is forgiving myself. It's not an easy thing and I think that I can't even say if I've truly forgiven myself and it's just something that I work at and you know yeah. That that that's that's the challenge. That is the big challenge is being able to forgive yourself for what you did and the hurt that you caused, the harm and and everything else. Um it's a it's a daily thing
Thank you Oprah
yeah But yeah man that's that's my story and I'm sticking to it
Steven: [01:10:13] I love it
Jojo White: [01:10:14] Yeah But yeah comedy is is been my other form of non-professional therapy. So it helps me. You know helps me to feel happiness, helps me to it it's helps me to feel love and it's.. I love the craft, I love the writing, I love the challeng es .
Yeah but I don't know. Do you deal with it or is it at or should I say is it is it heavy? Is it at I know you said you take things to kind of level the field out for you..
Steven: [01:10:56] I mean you want the kind of the quick whole story?
Jojo White: [01:10:59] Sure Yeah
Steven: [01:11:00] It's, this this is about you but uh I mean to honor what you've done today. So it it kind of started we moved towns between junior high and high school and you know how that is. So it kind of started then no one really knew what it was especially me. 11th grade I remember going to summer school or 10th grade going to summer school at summer school I met some interesting cats and that's when it all changed. Lots of drugs, lots of drinking, lots of promiscuity. Still didn't know what it was, I had no idea. But that was the beginning of manic episodes, self anesthetizing as my mother used to say, self-medicating.
Jojo White: [01:11:48] I've heard that before
Steven: [01:11:49] Long history of mental illness in my family. My Memere, so well my grandmother; very severely bipolar on lithium. That's the hard stuff . Pepe or the father alcoholic, mildly schizophrenic. On my father's side a lot of alcoholism, depression. So it was just everywhere. So started on medication and then just to kinda summarize.;17 years on medication, seeing counselors psychiatrist. I started at at a counselor went to the psych higher the psychologist. He was very smart. But I remember telling him at the very beginning I said "we're going to solve this problem". Like I always said "will I come off medication someday?" He said it gives you a fair chance, it can help adjust your chemistry or it can get you to change your life to adjust your chemistry.
So that was always the goal cause as I saw people through all these years I went on different combinations. So I was always on Depakote which is designed for people with epilepsy. So people who have seizures and what it does is it kind of short, so if your brain waves are like this, it's electricity it kind of shortens it so you don't go too high or go too low short circuit and have a seizure. But it's also used for stabilizing people with a mood disorder. But basically it's sedative. Right. Uh so I always took that the whole time and then in between that it was like Oh try this for your depression try this for your anxiety try this for your depression try this. So it was always like we were trying to figure out the perfect cocktail, if you will, but it was always side effect this, side effect that, kind of works, now it doesn't, I can't sleep, I'm too tired. Like it's all these different things that you're messing with and I appreciated your comment It is so true how powerful your body is. And how it can heal itself.
So 17 years a lot of distraction, whether it's alcohol women and workaholism. But yeah dude like I had a relationship in my mid twenties And what I called that was lovesick and I've never been more or sick in my life than after a relationship we were together like four years. We broke up and brother like I know what you mean going to bed every night and the fucking tape player. Wake like literally Googling "How do I kill myself with Tylenol PM".
Jojo White: [01:14:13] Yeah
Steven: [01:14:14] Googling it and buying Tylenol PM and taking one and then taking another and then being like, let's see what happens.
Jojo White: [01:14:20] Right Is to
Steven: [01:14:22] Just the the easiest way out cause I can't take this tape player. Knowing nothing I did change it. And but what it was was I put all of my; a theme that I hear you referring to is a lot.. It feels like a lot of what you lean on is external.
You said "fill my cup, tell me you love me, send me texts", No one cares. And that's why, I'm being very careful, because I'm not a fucking psychologist I just know my experience. And I don't want to put that on you. But a lot of what you're saying is external. And I did the same thing because when that relationship was over I was literally, nothing, I say the bottom dropped out. Cause I was, there was no, there was nothing underneath me because I put my entire universe, not necessarily in her, but in this "external relationship".
My confidence, my sense of wellbeing, my character, how I viewed myself because I was the "boyfriend". You know, everything was external. You took that away. I literally had nothing to where I was just like I just needed to take these pills cause I don't, I have nothing. I remember it sitting on the side of my bed just like crying like wrenched crying like everything just hurt. I can empathize is the point so seeing some real I always struggled with relationships. I was almost afraid to get into relationships because I was afraid I knew that I couldn't deal with getting out. But looking back obviously many years later it's because I I literally put myself in that relationship. That's dangerous That's really foolish. It's like taking this putting it in a glass jar and rolling it down the street. That breaks, you're done.
Jojo White: [01:16:10] Yeah and and yeah that's where you know I yeah I still work on; heck, my therapist told me she was like yeah you have to love yourself more. And I don't know what it is, it's like you know when you're in love with somebody, like you want to give them your all and and this and that And like you you cling on to that happiness and and you know that's that's what you do but
Steven: [01:16:41] So you mentioned "fill my cup" . Watch or Google um you know Jada Pinkett does the Red Table? There's a there's one with her and Will Smith and they talk about their challenges and what they went through but he says "And I learned that you have to fill your own cup, I can't fill it for you." Yeah So the thing I learned about relationships it's not one plus one equals two, it's one plus one equals three. There's you, there's me, and there's us.
Jojo White: [01:17:12] Yeah Will, he has a great thing that he says where you have to enter a relationship being able to be happy on your own yourself. You have to you, can't put it on your person for them to make
Steven: [01:17:27] There's no "You complete me, Jerry Maguire" Like that doesn't work.
Jojo White: [01:17:30] Yeah Yeah You have to complete yourself and your partner has to complete their self and then you come together and you bring it together. But it's true And and that's you know you know that's what I struggle with is like like I know I can be okay, I know that life will go on or whatever but I don't know I put everything in and that's just I got to find that that that balance where I love myself just as much as I love the people around me or my partner and I don't know maybe it's my flaw.
Steven: [01:18:06] I wouldn't say flaw.
Jojo White: [01:18:08] Yeah
Steven: [01:18:08] You know, you have strengths that other people don't have. It's I dunno I dunno how to describe that I don't think it's a flaw though. Because I, maybe that I was born with that opinion because when I was diagnosed with bipolar, when I turned 18 which was like a year later. I literally, you know how you had these memories you know exactly where you were and all that, I remember walking into the living room and I said to my mom, "This is not gonna be my curse, this is not going to be my crutch, I see this as a blessing." If I can go very high and very low, I see that as I'm gifted with a wider perspective than maybe other people have. It's a gift as long as I can weather the storm. So it's not necessarily a flaw. That's why I was I was trying to get at, "what does sadness, what's a bad day, like what does that mean for you, what does it teach you?
Because I feel like; It's possible to turn this into your superpower. If you can get so low and so sad and feel everyone around you, that's a superpower. If you're super high and egoic and full of power you don't give a shit about how the other people feel. So I'm trying to find meaning in sadness, I'm trying to find meaning in your depression and maybe it is an elevated sense of empathy. And if we can view it as a gift..
Jojo White: [01:19:30] Ooh that's good. Perspective is everything it's all in how you look at something. If you look at it in a negative light it can be bad but we just as well as bad you can pull out the good in it. It can be good as well as long as you're able to get through the storms and not allow it to consume you.
No that's good. Yeah, I I liked that a lot, like uh not looking at it as a law and that and that's just where over the course of the year or year or two Where I've just been trying to rewire my thought process.
Because your mind is everything your mind it's not easy. Like I still like I can know the formula to an equation but when I'm in it it's like I forget that formula. And it's like I focus on the the failure.
It's hard in the moments but when I look back I try to be happy for the trials because it's it's.. I'm not the best, I'm not perfect but it's made me who I am today. It's given me the voice that I have. It's given me the perspective that I have and the ability to you know want to help others want to see people well off and better and not struggle and see the world in a better place. And if you're not helping and one help people if you if you're not trying to help people in your life then what are you doing for the rest of your..
Like what is life for me if I'm not trying to help others. Like if if it's all about me I think that's just selfishness, you know. I want to leave imprint you know I want to create change. You know it's all perspective. I'm grateful for the rough time for seeing my family go through crazy stuff; stabbing each other, drugs, stealing from each other grandmas.
I'm thankful that I'm not just a buttoned up person. And uh the the ability to adapt. And you know life is life is fascinating. It's you know I can't live in a bubble man. There's there's so much to it. Whether just as a person the in newness of your energy, your soul, your mind and how much power you have as a person. You know all the way to the words that you speak.
People don't understand that like the words that you speak have a power within itself. And that's why when you're around people that gossip or people that you can feel them drain the life and energy from you, when people speak negativity towards you, you feel that. Because there's power in these words. And that's the deepness in life that I'm glad that my eyes are open to . So my thing is, do the best I can do each day and try to leave my print and try to make somebody happy.
Steven: [01:22:39] So it sounds like there's meaning in your suffering, would you agree?
Jojo White: [01:22:47] Yeah I would agree
Steven: [01:22:48] There's an enormous amount and in the reason why I want to highlight that is the next time you have "a day". A day, everyone knows what that means. If you can until that day program your mind to accept that there is meaning in suffering. There is meaning in all of this pain. The next time you have a bad day, I'll speak for myself, I tell myself there's a reason for this. Maybe it's time for me to reflect, maybe it's time for me to feel the sadness I've been ignoring for a long time. Maybe it's time for me to be more empathetic and observe the world around me I've been to "I" centric, "I" focused. It like exposes your nerves. It's very uncomfortable but that's what helps me get through whether it's a day, 3 months, 6 months, whatever. There's a reason it's causing that reflection. It's causing you to slow down long enough to play the tape over cause maybe there's something you're missing.
Jojo White: [01:23:51] Yeah Uh it's it's good. It's you know you know burying things that you deal with on a day to day. It's you know maybe it is your body; your body's speaking up for itself. Like, there's something there that's that's off and you have to focus on this and you have to figure out how to get through this internally.
Uh you know cause I believe that your body alerts you however it needs to alert you. And, but that's true I need to write that down on a board and I'm so for like leaving post-it notes like you again you can have the formula but sometimes when you're in the storm you you can't see that you have everything you need to get through it.
And sometimes you need those reminders . And I'm all for writing stuff down just as a reminder because you know you you get so fixated on just the feeling and the badness and you forget all the tools that you have that can help you but when someone else goes through it like boom boom boom boom boom, I'm a doctor, I got you. You know I got all the answers for you what you need but you know when you go through yourself you tend to forget, I tend to forget a lot.
Steven: [01:25:07] Same, cause I remember feeling like, shit I can do this. Like I can see someone else's thing and be like boom boom boom boom. Like you said but then I'm like with myself, yeah no, not all, it's I mean that's what it is, that's the whole point, that's the whole point.
Jojo White: [01:25:27] Well thank you. Your your fans and the audience I think we went over a little bit
Steven: [01:25:36] Something I learned there's no such thing as too long there's too boring. So there's a lot of meat here. It's all in how it's presented and if they want to listen they can if they want to hit stop.
I learned something from actually Jessica's friend, she's an artist. She went to the fancy artist school in Sarasota, very talented. And I was she was asking me about the podcast and I was hemming and hawing, I was dripping with Imposter Syndrome; "Ah you know it's just a thing whatever no one's going to care, who who am I to do this Blah blah" And she said, "When you create a piece of art the process of creating that art has everything to do with you. As soon as you share that, hit publish, hang it on a wall, submit it to whatever. It has nothing to do with you after that because when someone sees it, views it, enjoys it, it's their experience. It means everything to them based on everything they went through until that moment that they experienced that has nothing to do with you. So it really doesn't matter whether they like it or don't whether they listen to the whole thing or don't as nothing to do with you. The magic is in the production, in the process. You and I connecting right now; how therapeutic this was for each of us, we have good intentions. It almost doesn't matter.
Jojo White: [01:26:59] Yeah
Steven: [01:27:00] after this
Jojo White: [01:27:01] And if it I mean if it reaches this one person
Steven: [01:27:03] Exactly. I love that cause you fuc.. You just said that you said that that's that's what stood out to me. It's like all you need is one person in that audience;
Jojo White: [01:27:13] That's the call back, baby!
Steven: [01:27:14] Focus on one. Yes and then it can spread from there.
So I mean the whole goal of this podcast; is one person. And if it changes the way they talk to their child; imagine that, a whole lifetime, a whole life is changed. Imagine you can think of a few moments I know this when you were younger when some family member said a certain thing to you and that was imprinted on your psyche whether it was, probably negative?
So if this one episode changes maybe it makes them reflect for just a moment and they say something differently and a whole life has changed.
Jojo White: [01:27:56] Yeah I mean that's that's why I admire what you're doing and what you're focusing on and everything. Because it's all about creating positive change. And again if we can reach that one person or if this can reach that one person and change and that's how they treat their kid or treat the next person. It's It's all about
Steven: [01:28:19] it's like throwing pebbles right And then the
Jojo White: [01:28:21] The ripples So it's just it's good
Steven: [01:28:26] *****
Amen. no, I love it. So, I love this episode. I love this conversation, but I do want to respect our listeners time, wrapping up, two more questions. One. Are there any resources, books, videos, talks, anything that really lit you up, in, I'd say the last eight years in your journey?
Jojo White: [01:28:47] Yeah, probably, Cat in the Hat.
Steven: [01:28:51] Okay.
Jojo White: [01:28:52] That's that's my book right
Steven: [01:28:53] Why?
Jojo White: [01:28:54] Nah, I'm just playin, haha..
Steven: [01:28:57] I was like, there's some nuggets in
Jojo White: [01:28:58] Some deep stuff. Nah. There probably is like mad hat wisdom and stuff. No, I wish. So, I, I'm not an avid reader. I try.
Steven: [01:29:08] Whatever it is..
Jojo White: [01:29:09] I like, but I am so for reading and I'm trying to make that a habit, I'm trying to pick that up as a habit.
I read a book called Relentless. It's the guy that trained Michael Jordan. He trained Kobe and not just physical train, but mentally trained as well. And so change, like rewiring your brain. And I, and I believe that you have to do that, cause we're conditioned at an early age, a young age, w whether it be school or environment and stuff, and you have to get rid of bad habits, you have to rewire your mind and it takes time and you gotta figure out how to do that.
And just dedication, relentlessness, sacrifice, all the things, all the, the formula that it takes to be successful. And so that that's a really good book that like our, I had read, The Artist's Way.
Steven: [01:30:06] Yes, right there.
Jojo White: [01:30:08] Sweet. Yeah. that's a really good book.
Steven: [01:30:11] Last week's episode was on The Artist Way.
Jojo White: [01:30:14] Yeah. So yeah, I actually, yeah, I got it at the house.
I want to go back and reread the Alchemist. I read that young, but you know, I remember it just being really good. I mean, if reading's not it like, you know, for me, I try to. Then it's studying people. It's studying the great, the people that are successful, like who, why wouldn't you study successful people?
Because they have found the formula. They have found the way, and I'm not saying be just like them, but yeah. Take some of the things that they do and you'll eventually blossom into who you are.
You know, it's just like a stand up. Like a lot of people go up mimicking somebody. Like I mimic Dave Chappelle because that was the only thing I knew, he's successful or whatever.
But the more you do it, after hitting like 3 to 5 mics a week back to back to back to back to back. Jojo started to coming out like me. I started feeling more comfortable because I knew I could make people laugh. And now it's me on stage instead of Dave Chappelle or little Dave, or light-skinned Dave, whatever you wanna look at.
So, so that's how it works. And that's my biggest thing is, mimicking great people or reading on great people. What are their perspectives? What are, how do they think? I've gotten into meditation, a lot, and just, just taking things, whether from the Bible or, and, you know, my partners, my partners real big, and studying a little bit of like Buddhism and a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
And in some of these, passages and, what do you call it; parables and stuff. Like they're deep and they help you. So, yeah, that's, that's what I've done for myself.
Steven: [01:32:01] I love that. I've never really heard it said that way. In my mind, it's, don't be afraid to straight up, copy someone. Put it on like their training wheels. if no one really knows who you are, who's going to judge you, your friends and family. So what, but over time you just kind of like oozed out of yourself.
So you use them as like a training wheel. You borrowed their confidence.
Jojo White: [01:32:25] Yeah.
Steven: [01:32:25] And then
Jojo White: [01:32:26] Yeah. Borrow the confidence
Steven: [01:32:27] Kinda like a moonshot, like a good way to get yourself up there
Jojo White: [01:32:30] Yeah. Yeah.
Steven: [01:32:31] or anywhere
Jojo White: [01:32:31] Just, you know, just let go. And don't always be that person. Yes. There's some people that remain that person. I was like, "C'mon.."
Steven: [01:32:40] But they don't really go too far, right?
Jojo White: [01:32:42] Exactly. Because no one wants to say I see the same person, you know?
I think that's, I was just talking with somebody the other day. It was like, Well, and the goat talk. When you talk about Michael Jordan and LeBron James, I feel like a lot of people forget about Kobe and then someone made a good point because, Kobe mimiced Jordan and he didn't necessarily surpass him.
So therefore he's not Jordan. So he's just a reflection of Jordan's, a shadow. So he's not going to be in the discussion because he's, he wasn't his, I mean, I think he had his own ways and stuff, but everyone knew that he, Jordan was his idol and he mimicked him and all the greats mimic the greats before them, but they become their own person.
Steven: [01:33:27] I love it. Cool. So in closing, what would you like to share with our listener based on everything we've talked about so far?
Jojo White: [01:33:35] Shoot, share. Let's see a be safe out there. I know Covid, don't do drugs unless it's stand up.
Man. Cliche, follow your dreams. No, that's it. Yeah, don't do drugs. No. do what makes you happy? You know, happiness is, I feel like it gets lost in everyday routine . And that true happiness finding what makes you happy and stick to that. Life is short, you know, 80, 90 years is not a long time when you look at it. Everything. When you look at how many hours you put in the work and you add that up every week and stuff, and you know how much phone time is taken out of your life, like everything adds up and takes a piece of you. But do what makes you happy.
And like, share, subscribe this episode. And if you want me back, then make sure you comment and say, "Hey, we want Jojo back." Cause we need another episode. And Steve be like, all right, let's get Jojo back.
Steven: [01:34:37] And where can people find you real quick?
Jojo White: [01:34:38] Oh, find me on Instagram is JojoWhiteComedy.
Facebook as well, JojoWhiteComedy. I think, I think does that, man, I think that's it
Steven: [01:34:49] I'll put all in the show notes
Jojo White: [01:34:49] I think that' its
it. Yeah. Yeah.
Steven: [01:34:53] All right, man. Love you.
Jojo White: [01:34:55] All right. Love you too, man.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Stand Up and Sketch Comedian
Originally from Tennessee, Jojo has been writing sketch comedy for the last 8 years and has been doing stand-up for the last year. He once opened for Chis Porter from Comedy Central and was recently featured on The Creative Motion Channel on ROKU TV.
Producer & Host
If you enjoyed this content or have any questions/thoughts about it, I would love to connect.
Related Episodes of My Niche is Human
I always thought you had to be in the military to get PTSD. Clearly, I didn’t understand what trauma really is…
Is there an untapped artist within you waiting to be let free? Have you lost years of your life not being as creative? Journey Through The Artist’s Way
We unpack the idea of story, how and why we tell ourselves the stories we do, and what we can do to tell ourselves better, more empowering stories.