WARO sits down at The Brain Jar in Hull, with comedian Jed Salisbury to discuss work and making his living in comedy, being on television (‘Who Are You Calling Fat?’) and coping mechanisms for mental health.
He’s had a very successful few years, with gigs up and down the country and several TV appearances, but Jed Salisbury is still extremely up front about his continued struggles with mental health.
The issue of mental health has thankfully become a much more widely discussed topic in recent years. Celebrities have spoken up about their own personal experiences, and people have used social media to come together and show support for one another through tough times. The government has also promised increased spending on mental health (although we’ll have to wait and see if that comes to fruition).
Jed is one of those aforementioned people who has been vocal about his mental health struggles in order to increase awareness. The Hull-based comic spoke about his coping mechanisms should a bad day come around, in the hopes of potentially helping others: ‘’I try and get myself out. I realise if I stay in things will downward spiral fast, because I’m my own worst enemy. If I’m having a bad day, I’ll go to places in town that I frequent and talk to the staff. I know that sounds cliché, but it gets me out of a toxic environment and keeps me out of my own head.’’
As you can probably imagine, constantly touring across the country can sometimes be a downer when it comes to mental health, as you rarely have any free time to yourself to sit and think, but more importantly to enjoy other things. In those rare moments of solace, Jed has a selection of hobbies that help keep him in a positive mood: ‘’For the longest time comedy was my hobby, but now it’s my job so it kind of became everything about me. I’ve had to find passion elsewhere, so I act, I do announcing for a wrestling company, I write things other than comedy, I try to take an interest in other people’s creative outlets.’’
Jed also spoke about how essentially being self-employed can play on that free time: ‘’When you’re self employed you almost feel bad for having free time. There’s always that thought process of ‘I should be chasing this or doing this’, but you have to just let that go. That’s why I enjoy going to the cinema so much, phone off, it’s like a little escape.’’
Many people in and around Hull and Yorkshire see Jed as somewhat of an inspiration. He’s a local lad who’s been able to use his talents to grow into a recognisable figure in UK comedy, despite having mental health issues. For those in similar situations, Jed provided some useful self-care tips: ‘’If you ever feel out of place somewhere, just think about all the steps you took to get there, because its so easy to doubt yourself if you just focus on the current situation. I doubted myself with the TEDtalk thinking ‘I shouldn’t be doing this, I’m not that smart’, but then I took a step back and realised I’ve essentially been a professional talker for 10 years. I’ve got things to say.
‘’Keeping on top of things is also important. I’m a serial procrastinator, so I’ll get into these cycles of not wanting to do something, and then being depressed about that, and then becoming more depressed that I never ended up doing it. I’d say just get it done and you’ll be much happier later.’’
There’s a common misconception out there that if you’re from up north, specifically a city like Hull which isn’t known for its stars, you can’t be a success. But through his comedic success as well as his TEDtalk, Jed has proved that judgement to be a falsehood. How you may ask? He claims the answer is simple: ‘’I worked hard, but there’s also an element of right place, right time. The main reason I got the TEDtalk is because I was in a nightclub and got talking to the right person. Obviously not all things can work like that, but you shouldn’t be afraid to take a risk. When I was an amateur comic I’d go out there and flop, but I’d use the opportunity of working with pros to pick their brains and up my own game.
‘’There’s gonna sadly be a point where I have to move out of Hull, because I can’t achieve anything more. Hull is great, but it’s an hour away from anything major so if I want to take that next step to TV, I’d have to unfortunately leave.’’
As someone who suffers with mental health issues myself, Jed’s story is inspirational. He’s overcome a lot of obstacles to get to where he is now, and his current success shows no signs of stopping. There’s arguably no one in comedy more deserving of a big break than Jed right now, and long may the success he’s found continue.
Words: Jordan Roy Morris // Interview: Dom Smith