As a comedian and storyteller, Chris Gethard's comedy has always come from a personal place, but nothing could be more personal than the lengthy, heartfelt response to an anonymous question he posted on Tumblr Tuesday night.
"Anonymous" asked Gethard, who wrote at length about his psychological issues in his memoir A Bad Idea I'm About To Do, if he has ever had suicidal thoughts, and went on to express his own troubles with anxiety and depression. Within minutes, the comedian got to work on a response that reads as a powerful essay on finding the strength to anticipate better times in life.
Since the time of his post, Gethard confirmed to The Huffington Post that the anonymous person has read his response and that he is seeking help.
Before publicly posting the message, Gethard included a disclaimer that it was meant to be a one-on-one communication with "Anonymous," that he felt unsure about whether or not it was right to post it (at least one person anonymously told him it was not his place) and that other readers could "skip this one."
On the contrary, the letter has gotten a huge response on Tumblr and the rest of the web, with many people blown away by its raw honesty. In it, Gethard discusses his own brushes with intentionally harming himself and how he has been able to overcome the panic attacks that still affect him to this day. The entire post is worth a read, and can be applied to any "anonymous" person out there who has struggled with similar feelings:
"I care about you very deeply, me personally, I care about you. And I don’t even know who you are. You sent your message in anonymously and I can’t presume to know who sent it. But you are a person and you’re in a lot of pain and you need help, and as another human who has been in at least similar pain, I want you to know - I care so much about you. If it turns out that you’re already one of my best friends in the world, I care about you. If you’re someone I’ve literally never interacted with in any way before this, I care about you. You are a person and you’re in pain and that makes me care."
Along with assuring the anonymous writer and admitting that yes, he has had suicidal thoughts in his life, Gethard also tells of the people who helped him, like a college roommate who saved him from hurting himself on several occasions simply by letting Gethard sit with him in his room overnight.
At the end of the post, Gethard urges "Anonymous" to seek professional help in any way, shape or form, but not before leaving him with a few more powerful and personal affirmations:
"Always remember that beautiful experiences and massive amounts of love are on their way. If you are able to feel pain and sadness this profoundly, more than most people can ever imagine, remind yourself that you can feel happiness and joy and love this profoundly as well, and that’s our little reward as depressed people. We feel things harder than other people do, and when those things are negative they are complete and total torture. But while we feel pain harder than other people have to, we feel beauty and joy and love harder than anyone else gets to, and that’s the victory that’s waiting on the other side of this pain for you. Hang on. Be tough. Better times are coming. Beautiful things and loving people are already out there, and when this cloud passes you get to experience them all so, so deeply."
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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College Humor's "Malarious"
This month, College Humor launched a special section of its site <a href="http://www.collegehumor.com/malarious" target="_hplink">in support of Malaria No More</a> featuring 24 funny videos that you can watch for just a $1 donation or more. Each video shows a comedian performing a funny task, like Ellie Kemper criticizing a puppy, Penn & Teller snorting a bean, Ed Helms swallowing a sword and more. Each contribution helps a child with Malaria.
He may have made a career of being an "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrgpZ0fUixs" target="_hplink">a**hole</a>," but Leary really has a heart of gold. After a fire claimed the life of his cousin and chlidhood friend, Leary established the <a href="http://www.learyfirefighters.org/about-us/overview/" target="_hplink">Leary Firefighters Foundation</a>. The foundation helps with funding for fire departments to have necessary equipment and resources.
After Louis C.K. earned $1 million for his Beacon Theater comedy special, <a href="https://buy.louisck.net/news" target="_hplink">he took to his website</a> to explain that he would be donating $280,000 of it to five charities. The charities were: <a href="http://www.fistulafoundation.org/" target="_hplink">The Fistula Foundation</a>, <a href="http://pablove.org/" target="_hplink">The Pablove Foundation</a>, <a href="http://www.charitywater.org/" target="_hplink">charity: water</a>, <a href="http://www.kiva.org/" target="_hplink">Kiva</a>, and <a href="http://www.greenchimneys.org/" target="_hplink">Green Chimneys</a>.
Lisa Lampanelli vs. Westboro Baptist Churc
Lisa Lampanelli vowed to donate $1,000 dollars to the <a href="http://gmhc.org/" target="_hplink">Gay Men's Health Crisis</a> organization for every member of the Westboro Baptist Church who came out to protest her show in Topeka, Kansas. She ended up donating <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/23/lisa-lampanelli-vs-westboro-baptist-church_n_865291.html" target="_hplink">$50,000</a>.
The Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert For Autism Education
Jon Stewart hosts this biannual charity comedy show that ended up raising $3.1 million dollars in grants in 2010. The night features comedians performing unexpected tasks such as Chris Rock <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhdzzAmKqI8" target="_hplink">cursing out a women's ex-boyfriend</a> to raise money. The next one is set for this year on <a href="http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/night-of-too-many-stars" target="_hplink">Oct. 31</a>.
Since 1986, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams have been the face of the charity <a href="http://comicrelief.org/" target="_hplink">Comic Relief</a>, which aims to raise money to fight poverty.
I'm With Coco Benefit For Haiti
Anthony Jeselink, Wyatt Cynac, Dave Attell and Janeane Garofalo were some of the comics who performed at New York's Comix comedy nightclub for this event to raise money for relief in Haiti. The event earned a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-palmer/comedians-bring-in-big-mo_b_441751.html" target="_hplink">little over $10,000</a>.
Griffin does whatever she can to show support for our men and women overseas. In season two of her reality show she went to Iraq <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XBr-tn5vE8" target="_hplink">to entertain the troops</a> and in 2008, she visited Walter Reed Army Hospital to perform for the patients there. In 2010 she hosted the "VH1 Divas Salute The Troops" show.
In case you didn't get that Robin Williams loves helping charities based on his St. Jude commercials (or his USO tours, or his help with "Comic Relief"), here's something else to warm your heart: In 2010, Williams donated all of the profits from his "Weapons of Self Destruction" Canterbury show to aid those affected by the Canterbury Earthquake.
Bob Hope started doing USO shows in 1941. In 1997 he was the first person to be designated as an <a href="http://www.uso.org/Entertainment/Profiles/Bob-Hope.aspx" target="_hplink">"honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces."</a> If you want a good cry watch <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-HeETwJSUc" target="_hplink">this tribute</a> to Bob Hope Christmas-ing with the troops.
<a href="http://www.margaretcho.com/2010/08/05/vip-tour-packages-to-benefit-gukf-coast-animals/" target="_hplink">After visiting the Mississippi coast </a>, Margaret Cho decided to donate VIP ticket sales to the <a href="http://www.imms.org/" target="_hplink">Institute for Marine Mammal Studies</a>.
Known to most as an insult comic, Ross' "<a href="http://www.hulu.com/watch/151730" target="_hplink">Patriot Act</a>" chronicles his experience USO touring Iraq with six other comedians including Drew Carey. "You always feel like you're making an impact," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/29/comedian-jeffrey-ross-on_n_621160.html" target="_hplink">he has said of his experiences performing on USO tours.</a>
When she won "The Celebrity Apprentice", Rivers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/11/joan-rivers-wins-apprenti_n_201430.html" target="_hplink">earned $250,000</a> for her charity of choice, <a href="https://www.glwd.org/" target="_hplink">God's Love We Deliver</a>. In her 2010 documentary "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," Rivers revealed that she does more than just give money: she also goes on annual trips delivering meals herself.
Even after the king of late night TV had passed, Johnny Carson donated <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/09/johnny-carsons-156-millio_n_676162.html" target="_hplink">$156 million to various charities</a>.
Jerry Lewis Telethons
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In 2009, Colbert "declared victory" and performed four shows in Baghdad. You remember, the time that Barack Obama ordered General Ray Odierno <a href="http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/229768/june-08-2009/obama-orders-stephen-s-haircut---ray-odierno" target="_hplink">to shave Colbert's head</a>? In his attempt to get the Iraq war back <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/09/colberts-first-iraq-show_n_212982.html" target="_hplink">in the news</a>, Colbert did his part, delighting troops along the way. He also donated iTunes proceeds from the shows to the USO.
To give an example of Dengeres' generosity, "The Ellen Degeneres Show" raised <a href="http://ellen.warnerbros.com/about/bio.php" target="_hplink">over $10 million</a> for New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina devastated Ellen's hometown.
On top of supporting a number of charities, Rosie established <a href="http://www.rosiestheaterkids.org/about/mission.aspx" target="_hplink">Rosie's Theater Kids</a> in 2003, a program that gives many low-income children experience in theater and helps them learn about the arts.
Known animal lover Betty White has been working with the <a href="http://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/assets/sp/why-we-love-betty-white.html" target="_hplink">Morris Animal Foundation</a> for some time. White donated her royalties from her cheeky 2011 calendar to the organization.
Tina Fey donated money to help <a href="http://www.booksforkids.org/newsponsors/" target="_hplink">Books For Kids</a> open four new libraries in Harlem, but she also went above and beyond by donating her time to read stories to children at the <a href="http://www.tinafeyfan.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=21686" target="_hplink">Harlem Day Care Center</a>.
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Komedy For Kenza
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In 2007, Sandler donated $1 million to the Boys and Girls Club in his hometown of <a href="http://www.mbgcnh.org/main_sublinks.asp?id=19&sid=51" target="_hplink">Manchester, New Hampshire</a>.