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Mental Health Comedy Hour is Insanely Funny

Updated: May 10, 2023 13:47
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Mental Health is no joke, but sometimes it can make you laugh.

Laugh about the hard stuff during Mental Health Comedy Hour at The All Out Comedy Theater in Oakland on Friday, May 12th. This Saturday, May 13th, they will be in SF at Strut.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and what better way to celebrate than to find some humor with talented comedians who share a mental health diagnosis and their experiences creating an uplifting environment. The Mental Health Comedy hour has been a Bay Area monthly event that started in January 2019. This weekend there are two shows for people to enjoy. As the old saying goes, laughter is the best form of medicine. Though laughter can not cure mental illness, this show proves it can give those a moment of reprieve.

How is Mental Illness Defined?

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feelings, mood, ability to relate to others and impacts daily functioning. It is reported that 5,566,000 adults in California have a mental health condition. That’s more than 6x the population of San Francisco. Most are forced out of finding in-network care or finding the right treatment. Mental Illness is a diagnosis just like hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and should be viewed as such, and everyone should have access to treatment that they need.

The team behind Mental Health Comedy Hour – photo by camilleadamsphotography

What is the Mental Health Comedy Hour?

The Mental Health Comedy Hour show was co-created by Wonder Dave and Kristee Ono in 2019.  Wonder Dave and Ono have been doing stand up comedy and were working on their podcast NerdRage. Wonder Dave, says he was inspired to create this show when recognizing there is a market of people that want to laugh and be real with their mental health. He informs me that after comedian Maria Bamford’s sets, audience members would come up with pill bottles to be signed by the comedian because they were on a medication she has mentioned she is prescribed on and discusses  during her routines.

We both talked about mental health in our sets with varying success. I don’t think everyone expects to talk about depression in a comedy setting, which is fair, but those who were related to the topic, really related. So we started a show where the audience would know what they were getting into from the get go,” says Ono.

The Mental Health Comedy Hour isn’t your regular run of the mill comedy show. Wonder Dave and Kristee Ono, with the help of stage manager Lola Anathema, work on setting the show similar to a late night talk show with stand up comedy, interview and news portions, and in the spirit of mental health, include a chaise lounge on the stage.  It was once an inflatable chaise, but Wonder Dave has found an actual chaise he is proud of for the stage for the Oakland location.

Watch a snippet of a past show here:

The show also provides mental health resources. They invite mental health workers, therapists and patient rights advocates to the show. Ono shares, “one of my favorite moments of working on the show is being able to help provide friends looking for therapists the resources we have gathered from interviewing mental health professionals. It is nice to be able to offer guidance to an overwhelming process.” The show also informs the audience members on all types of varying therapies for mental illness diagnosis from talk therapy, CBT, medications and more. They do not push any agenda or form of therapy. They create an awareness of all different modalities and resources offered for those interested.

Anathema explains the reason for the show is not to shame those that struggle with mental health diagnosis, but to hold a safe space to help find the humor and laugh about what our brains sometimes do to us, and remind everyone no one has to struggle alone. A mental health diagnosis such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction and others does not have to be a sentence of isolation and despair. This show helps decrease the stigma associated with such diagnosis.

The Mental Health Comedy Show started before anyone knew about Covid-19 and the toll it has taken on everyone’s mental health, even those without the diagnosis or predisposition of mental health diagnosis will enjoy the show. Anathema shares with me, their most memorable show was actually when Margaret Cho headlined over Zoom early during COVID lockdown, “I’ve loved her for years and getting to work with her, even virtually was such a pleasure and honor”

The team behind Mental Health Comedy Hour – photo by camilleadamsphotography

What Comedians Are Performing this Weekend?

The first show of the weekend will take place at the All Out Comedy Theater, in Oakland. The special guests will be local comic Brett Jennings making her Mental Health Comedy Hour debut. Traveling all the way from New York City is Calvin S. Cato, who once appeared on the show when it was offered on Zoom, tells me he is excited to return back to the Bay Area since performing in 2015 at Sketchfest.

Cato says he is “excited to get to experience a San Francisco Bay Area audience again” he goes on to say, “I remember crowds being so smart and socially aware which is amazing. Plus I am excited to get some great food; I remember the food being amazing too.”  The All Out Comedy Theater is the primary home of the Mental Health Comedy Hour and performers as well as the mental health worker will have the opportunity to sit in a real chaise lounge.

The team behind Mental Health Comedy Hour – photo by camilleadamsphotography

“I wanted to do the show because Wonder Dave is very funny and interesting, and I enjoy performing on shows with him. Also, I’ve never heard of another show where you get to talk about the mental illnesses you have been diagnosed with even though I think there must be some positive correlation between being mentally ill and wanting to perform stand-up comedy. I think mental illness is a lot more common than we think and it’s nice to give it a platform,” says comedian Brett Jennings.

The second show of the weekend takes place at Strut SF.  Bay Area comedy fans have the opportunity to see Calvin S. Cato again and local comedian and producer of The Toxic Thots Comedy Show, Dylan McKeever  who shares with me she found out about the show because of host Wonder Dave.  “He hosted the Hysteria open mic at Martuni’s which was one of the first open mics I performed at.  I’m queer and in therapy so it’s a natural fit to do this show.” I’m informed that the chaise for this show is still a blow up chaise, which curiously makes me want to attend both shows this weekend and hope fellow Broke-Ass Stuart readers join me.

How do you get tickets for the upcoming Mental Health Comedy Hour show(s)?

There are two shows this weekend:

All Out Comedy Theater, 2550 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA
Every other Month on 2nd Fridays, 8pm at
This month, the show is May 12th.
show tickets can be purchased here

San Francisco
Strut 470 Castro St 470 Castro Street San Francisco, CA
Saturday, May 13 · 7 – 9pm PDT
show tickets can be purchased here

Where can you find Mental Health Comedy Hour Online?

Mental Health Comedy Hour

Wonder Dave

Kristee Ono

Lola Anathema

Brett Jennings

Calvin S. CAto

Dylan McKeever

Mental Health Comedy Hour Guest Therapist Resource List


National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line:

Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, about any type of crisis

Mental Healthline

FREE Helpline:1-844-549-4266


Grateful Heart Therapy – Sliding scale therapy (Bay Area)

Living Arts Counseling Center (Emeryville) – Sliding scale expressive arts therapies 

Heal SF – To support and cultivate mental well-being for all those who live and/or work in San Francisco

Open Path Collective – Our therapists provide affordable, in-office and online

psychotherapy sessions between $30 and $60

Pacific Center for Human Growth is the oldest LGBTQIA+ center in the Bay Area, the third oldest in the nation, and operates the only sliding scale mental health clinic for LGBTQIA+ and QTBIPOC people and their families in Alameda County.

Bay Area Open Minds – Group for therapists who are not just LGBTQ+ affirming but also poly/CNM and kink affirming

Gaylesta – Therapist association for gender and sexual diversity

National Queen and Trans Therapist of Color Network

LGBTQ Psychotherapist of Color

TherapyDen supports and stands with the Black community. We unequivocally condemn all forms of racism and injustice against Black people. As a progressive and all-inclusive therapist directory we will work with allies and partners to make meaningful change within the mental health industry and society as a whole. The featured therapists below have all identified including a Racial Justice Framework as part of their therapy practice.

Donate to give 6 sessions through

Community United Against Violence – Advocacy-Based Peer Counseling: LGBTQ people dealing with violence or abuse can access short-term counseling to receive emotional support, safety planning, referrals, and limited case follow-up.

San Francisco LGBT Youth Resources

Larkin Street Youth Services is a nonprofit empowering young people to move beyond homelessness

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Nicole Ski

Nicole Ski

Nicole is from New Jersey. She's lived in the East Bay for 10 years and cherishes all it has to offer as well as what it's taught her. She loves to travel, learn new trails in the redwoods, and is a live music aPHISHianato.