Book Review: Depression: The Comedy by Jessica Holmes

Depression: The Comedy

Title: Depression: The Comedy
Author: Jessica Holmes
Genre: Memoirs, Mental Health, Humour
Date of Publication: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Sunnybrook Press


Jessica Holmes–comedian, mother, wife, and Canadian–is the author of Depression: The Comedy, a memoir about her experiences with depression.  Some of you might know Holmes from her work on the Royal Canadian Air Farce and she starred in her own TV program, The Holmes Show, back in 2003.

Depression: The Comedy is the perfect remedy for those who feel alone in their mental illness. Holmes maintains a lighthearted tone as she discusses the darkest times in her life, making it clear that those who suffer or have suffered from similar symptoms have company.  In the acknowledgements, Holmes states that editors had wanted her to “dig deeper”, but she had said that “when the going gets tough, some of us need a frolic in the shallows”.  Aptly put.  Despite this acknowledgement, I do think that the book, while short, does delve into some of the underlying issues surrounding depression, and there is a list of resources at the end of the book for those who are coming to grips with their mental illness.

Depression: The Comedy

I tend to prefer situational humour over outright jokes.  This book includes humour for all types. I particularly loved one chapter where Holmes asked other comedians for a short description of their most humiliating experience. It does not disappoint.  However, I would have preferred if she had included more short and snappy anecdotes in the rest of the book. (My favourite story involves a gymnasium–you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens!)  There are some laugh out loud moments, but some parts are depressingly relatable, and don’t necessarily add humour to the story.  But what can you expect from a book about depression?  She can’t make all of it lollipops and puppy dogs. Some dark spots just can’t be made lighter.

The stories can be a little heavy, but Holmes attempts to lighten the load with plenty of jokes and perspective.  The book is peppered with cutesy images and illustrations, some which are more relatable than others.

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While the book isn’t meant to be “digging deep” into these issues, there were a few recurring themes that I would have liked Holmes to explore more.  For example, it became clear to me at one point that she may have been suffering from Imposter Syndrome –a psychosomatic phenomenon where an individual (usually a woman or a visible minority) feels like a fraud in their profession.  As someone who’s struggled with this at particular (okay, many) points in my life, I would have appreciated a little more coverage of how she overcame this (if she ever did!).  For those of you who want to read the book on Imposter Syndrome – check out The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women” by Valerie Young. (Yes, I’ve linked to my own book review on Goodreads.)

While assuming readers already know the basics seems to be the nature of celebrity memoirs, I would have preferred a little more biographical information at the beginning of the book.  The chapters are set up according to theme, so by the end I’d pieced together the story of Jessica Holmes’s life, but as I read I had a lot of questions that took time to be answered. This is in no way a criticism of this book—since a lot of celebrities tend to favour the themes approach over chronologically cataloguing their life. Although, I suppose in this particular case, it’s probably a good thing that she talks about her recovery in tandem with her mental illness.  I wouldn’t have wanted a major twist in the book to have been her diagnosis or her recovery!  That could have made for a very different kind of read…

Depression: The Comedy has something for everyone.  Like the back of the book suggests, it’s definitely for fans of Jenny Lawson.  (Although there isn’t an F-bomb in sight!)

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*I received a copy of this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

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