Last week, an anonymous fan of comedian Chris Gethard contacted him on Tumblr seeking help. The fan identified with Gethard's comedy, which often revolves around his struggles with depression and self-doubt, and when the fan's thoughts started to turn suicidal, he or she asked Gethard for his advice.
The comedian responded with a nearly 7,000-word revelatory missive that detailed instances from his own life when he felt that he hit rock bottom and how he has been able to come out of it. His extraordinary response to someone he didn't even know quickly became shared thousands of times on Tumblr and other social media outlets. Clearly, something struck a nerve.
Does this mean that today's comedy fans have a different relationship with comedians and with comedy than previous generations? The rise of intimate comedy portraits like "WTF with Marc Maron" and "Louie" would seem to indicate that comedy is becoming something more fragile, but is this an isolated trend or indicative of something more broad? We invited Chris himself to HuffPost Live to share his insights.
Above, watch an abbreviated version of the conversation between Gethard and HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps as they examine why comedy has turned into a form of therapy, both on personal and cultural levels. They're joined by comedian and Videogum blogger Gabe Delahaye, comedy researcher Chelsey Delaney, Comedy Killers cofounder Amanda Punshon and Texas A&M media studies professor Ethan Thompson.
You can watch the full segment below. In the comments, let us know: Do you think comedy holds a distinct place in today's cultural landscape that is unprecedented? Or is there more to the story?