Published May 21, 2023, 11:20 p.m. by Arrik Motley
It's no secret that the medical profession can be pretty stressful. So it's no wonder that more and more doctors are finding ways to blow off some steam by watching stand-up comedy.
And while some might see this as a way to simply escape the reality of their job, there's actually a lot to be said for the therapeutic benefits of laughter.
In fact, studies have shown that laughter can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and even boost immunity.
So if you're a doctor looking for a way to relax and recharge, here are some of the best stand-up comedy specials about health to check out.
In this special, Dr. Mike Varshavski takes on the often absurd world of health care with his trademark blend of humor and medical expertise.
From the ridiculousness of medical jargon to the absurdities of the insurance system, doctor Mike covers it all in this must-see special for anyone in the medical profession.
2. The Cleanest Joke Ever: A stand-up Special About Healthcare
In this special, comedian Ryan Niemiller tackles the often dark and serious world of healthcare with his signature brand of dark humor.
From his personal experiences with chronic pain to the absurdity of the American healthcare system, Niemiller leaves no stone unturned in this hilariously honest special.
In this stand-up special, Kevin Hart shares his hilarious and often poignant stories about growing up in a tough Philadelphia neighborhood.
While Hart's stories may not be directly related to health care, they offer a unique and refreshing perspective on the challenges of life and how to overcome them with laughter.
In this special, Bill Burr takes on a variety of topics with his trademark mix of anger and humor.
And while Burr doesn't specifically address health care in this special, he does offer a unique and often hilarious perspective on a variety of topics that will resonate with anyone in the medical profession.
In this special, Patton Oswalt shares his hilarious and often poignant stories about dealing with tragedy in his life.
While Oswalt doesn't specifically address health care in this special, his stories about loss and grief will resonate with anyone who has ever faced adversity in their life.
You may also like to read about:
- This is Pamela Rae Schuller.
She's a stand-up comedian,
and we're about to watch stand-up that's medically relevant
and she's gonna explain it to you
and I'm gonna explain the jokes.
Let's get started.
- I am fully medicated now.
Anybody else, antidepressants, medication?
- I don't know how I feel when comedians make that joke.
- You shouldn't ever be upset that you're taking a medicine,
but celebrating that you're taking it?
- No, it normalizes it.
How many people are gonna see this and be like,
"Oh my gosh, I don't need to be ashamed"?
- Yes, but then how many people are gonna request medicines
that they don't yet need?
- And then it's up to people like you.
- That's true, that's a lot of weight on my shoulders.
- Well no, it points to the fine line
between breaking the stigma
and not spreading misinformation.
- Or celebrating who she is and what she's going through.
- I'm not anything against celebration.
- I thought I was on an antidepressant.
It turns out I'm not.
It turns out I'm actually on a mood stabilizer
that they use as an antidepressant.
Fun fact about prescription drugs,
everything they prescribe,
they actually use for four different things.
- That's true,
and not only do we use it for four different things,
some don't even have an FDA approval for those things,
like they haven't been adequately studied,
so we use them off label.
- I know that,
because I've been on so many meds for Tourettes
that are not for Tourettes
because a study showed that it might help Tourettes.
When I was 12, I wore the nicotine patch
'cause there was a study.
- Did it help?
- No, it just made me jones.
- Okay, well we had to try something.
You're out of control otherwise.
- So you don't really know what your deal is
until you find a combo that works
and then Google all your pills by yourself.
So after years of trial and error,
I finally found a combination of things that worked for me.
- I don't want people to try it themselves.
- Because a lot of these medications
have really bad interactions,
so you have to have a thorough knowledge
of how they interact with each other.
If a patient of mine is on three psychoactive medications,
I get them a psychiatrist ASAP.
- Okay, that's smart.
- Because there's so many interactions
that I'm not well versed enough to know how,
to have the experience to know how they interact.
- That's important.
- And six months ago, I decided to Google it,
'cause what the hell?
And it turns out that everything I'm taking
is primarily used for bipolar disorder.
So I went back to my psychiatrist and I was like,
"Do we think?"
At least it's team based.
- And she was like, "Oh, yeah."
- They never had that discussion before?
- That's terrifying to me.
How many things do you think my therapist thinks I have
and just hasn't told me?
- But why would they not tell you?
Do you ask?
- All the time, she'll write something down
and I'll be like, "What are you writing?"
- But see, I hate labels, because the labels aren't really
for the benefit of the patient.
They're for the insurance company, the legal stuff.
But really, a person is not a diagnosis.
- So I agree with you 100%.
I think so often, especially when we work with kids,
we're always trying to find a diagnosis
instead of getting to know someone for who they are
and treating symptoms of things we're seeing.
But I do think sometimes knowledge is power.
- Do you think it could become a self fulfilling prophecy
where you think, "I am X so I must behave as X"?
- See, that's also.
- Yeah, but I, yeah, yeah.
- So it's individualized.
- It's a balancing act.
- I said, "You really didn't know that I was bipolar?"
And she goes, "No, of course not.
"We thought we were treating anxiety and depression."
And I said,
"Okay, 'cause this kinda feels like
"a putting your dog's medication in cheese situation."
When I was in high school, I was like,
"Dad, I think I'm depressed."
And he was like, "You just need some protein.
"Get a scoop of peanut butter."
- That's every health influencer on TikTok.
- I think, yeah.
- "Buy my protein!"
"Buy my hormone!"
You think I'm making that up?
- Mine would be amazing.
- Do you wanna buy some of my hormones, Mike?
But yours aren't hormones, they're horny moans.
- Stand-up comedy, ay.
- No, you're canceled for that.
There's a reason you're a doctor.
- Yeah, who makes jokes.
- Yeah, there's a lot of dads out there
just white-knuckling it through life right now,
clinging to a jar of chunky Jif like it's the answer.
Just a buoy in the storm.
- That's a joke with a lot of medical meaning behind it.
- Tell me more.
- Men will oftentimes experience their depression
or show their depression to the world
in different ways than what we describe traditionally
in medical stuff.
So for example, some will develop addiction
to going to the gym, to taking steroids and getting huge.
Some will get a gambling addiction.
Some will become abusive in their relationship.
But really, what they're experiencing is depression
and they're acting out.
- Look at me, learning.
And that was interesting, so I was actively listening.
- Yeah, that was good.
I don't know if you were faking it,
you're a really good actress.
- No, you know when I'm faking it.
- My doctor comes in.
He doesn't say hello, he doesn't say good morning.
He just walks in.
He points at me, which is super aggressive.
- Are doctors ever that aggressive to you?
- Sorry, he is so my type that that's all I'm hearing.
- Oh really?
Smash or pass?
- Oh, smash.
- And he goes, "Do you want something for your hair?"
And I go, "What?"
And he goes, "Do you want something for your hair?"
And I go, "I don't get it."
He goes, "Has nobody told you
"that your hair is falling out?"
And I was like, "Damn, no."
- It's a doctor roast.
- I went my whole life being okay with my face
and then a doctor said,
"How do you feel about your weak chin?"
- Well maybe you should do some squats.
- And he goes, "You weigh 245."
And I go, "Yeah, I knew that (censored)."
And he goes, "You weighed 230 last time you were here.
"Not exactly what I would call weight loss."
And I'm like, "Are we at a (censored) roast or something?
"What are you doing?"
- Old school doctors used to think this works.
- Then he says, ""You know you're the fattest patient
"I've seen all day."
- And I go, "It's 9:30 in the morning."
- No way.
- I would do a murder.
- He's like, "You know, we ran your blood work.
"It turns out, your muscle enzymes are through the roof."
And I go, "Yeah, man, I'm super strong.
"How's that a problem?"
- Well, muscle enzymes happen
when there's rapid breakdown of the muscle.
- It's a condition called rhabdomyolysis.
- Spell it.
No, I'm just kidding, I don't know.
- I don't know.
The myoglobin that's released actually can be nephrotoxic,
so it's problematic to your kidneys.
This happens when people who don't exercise for a while
go and start exercising.
- [Pamela] Oh okay.
- Or if people are found down, like elderly people,
for a long period of time and their muscle is breaking down.
Or if you take a lot of drugs and you shiver a lot
or something like that, where you overuse your muscles.
- Do you use words with your patients like nephrotoxic?
- When I say nephrotoxic,
I follow it up with kidney injury immediately after.
- My brain was still stuck on necrotophics.
- "Do you have a ring on your finger?"
And I go, "Yeah."
And he goes, "You're married?"
And I go, "Yeah."
And he goes, "To a guy?"
And I go, "No."
And he goes, "Oh, I thought you were gay."
And I go, "Why?"
And he goes, "Hey, I'm just kidding."
And I go, "That's fine."
He goes, "But check it out."
And he takes my chart and he shows it to me
and he had written "gay?" on my medical chart.
- I really feel like this is a joke or a lie,
because a chart is a medical legal record.
You're not gonna write "gay?" on it.
- Yeah, it'd be exclamation point.
- Unless, unless, unless, unless,
unless he saw that Tom Segura is a comedian
and he tried to be funny in a really poor attempt.
- To doctors out there, don't do that.
- Yeah, don't do that.
- But people ask me dumb questions all the time.
I'll get this one a lot.
They'll be like, "Hey Ryan, is that genetic?"
"Yes, because you see, my mom was Irish
"and my dad was a lobster."
Kids are the worst though.
Oh, kids are the absolute worst though,
'cause kids don't have that filter.
If a kid says you're ugly, you're ugly, all right?
Deal with it.
Buy a hat, I don't know what to tell you.
But this little girl, after she saw me
and after she screamed, she screamed!
It was a big scream,
which, side note, has led me to a new game that I play.
Now when I'm out in public
and I see a child staring at my arms,
I like to pretend that I'm discovering them
for the first time.
- I do that too!
Someone on the subway recently goes, "You're short."
And I go, like, "Where'd the rest of me go?"
- For four years, my wife and I couldn't get pregnant.
- Oh, I've heard this.
- And it was my fault.
"What's going on with you and Beena?
"You're like Indian Barbie and Ken."
And I'm like, "I know.
"And much like Ken..."
- What, 'cause Ken is plastic?
- Has no...
- I have art in my apartment, this is very much Pam art,
and it's Barbie and Ken in a motel room
and Barbie's on the bed and Ken is standing there
and they're both naked Barbies,
and the caption just says "Disappointed Barbie".
- A lot of doctors are my age,
and they're Indian, which means I might know them.
So we're sitting there in the waiting room at NYU, right?
Door opens, nurse comes out.
She's like, "Doctor Gupta will see you now."
"Oh, this better not be Arjam Gupta from Sacramento."
Then I hear a familiar voice.
He's like, "Hasan Minhaj?"
I'm like, "This is Arjam Gupta from Sacramento!"
- Is that his boy?
- They went to middle school together.
- He's a (censored) idiot.
He's not even an MD.
He's a goddamn DO!
- Why is he so angry about that?
I never understood this joke.
- He burned you through the computer!
- Yeah but why?
- So this dude is all up in my merchandise.
He's like, "Aw bro, I know what's wrong."
I'm like, "Stop saying bro."
He's like, "Son, oh.
"You got too much blood down there.
"It's lowering your sperm count.
"So we're gonna do a dangerous surgery
"called varicose seal repair."
- A varicose seal is basically a swelling of your veins
in your scrotum.
We used to say, if you feel that area,
it feels like a bag of worms.
Can you think of a more poop explanation?
- Thank you so much for that visual.
- That's what they taught us in medical school.
- This dude pulls out a trimmer and he goes,
"Let me shave you down right now.
"Let's do this right here, right now."
I go, "Arjam, back up.
"I'm not ready."
He goes, "Listen, man, if you don't get this surgery,
"you can't have kids ever."
Are you serious?
Life gets very real when don't want becomes can't have.
Isn't that right, DOs?
- He's so anti-DO, which is funny because in this clip,
the DO ends up allowing him to conceive.
- Yeah, to be clear, I'm not at all anti-DO.
- I don't think he's anti-DO either.
I think he's just making a joke.
- [Pamela] Yes.
- But it's just at the cost of doctors
in the midst of a pandemic,
when doctors were on the front lines.
- That's totally fair.
Look, as a comedian, you gotta know comedic timing.
- And if you're gonna make a joke about doctors.
- When was this filmed?
- Peak pandemic.
- [Pamela] Okay.
- My dermatologist said he needed to do a biopsy
of a little mole on the tip of my nose.
- I was about to say,
you don't need a dermatologist in some cases.
I can do that, but not if it's on the face
'cause I'm worried about scarring and stuff.
- Wow, that sounds like it's gonna hurt.
He said, "Don't worry, we're gonna numb it first
"with a painkiller."
I said, "How?"
He said, "We're gonna puncture a sharp needle
"into the tip of your nose."
- When I work with patients
and they need a small procedure done,
sometimes I say I think it might be best
to go without anesthesia,
because the anesthesia might hurt more than the procedure.
- I had to get a little thing removed
and she did the anesthesia, she gave the shot
and then she started slicing
and I started immediately crying and yelped.
- You have to wait.
- And she goes, "Well it takes 15 minutes to kick in."
And I was like, "Then wait 15 minutes!"
She was annoyed that she had to.
- When I did my derm rotation,
you would inject patients with lidocaine,
move on to the next patient, figure out what's going on,
go back to that patient, do the procedure.
- Uh huh.
- And at the hospital, I said,
"Excuse me, can I have pain medication
"'cause I am not thriving?"
And the nurse said, "Oh okay", and he gives me the IV
and he gives me a little pump of something,
and I was like, "Yum yum yum yum, yes she's alive!"
And then I was like, "Actually no, I still passed away.
"What the (censored) was that?"
And he said it was a placebo, it was a saline injection.
And I said, "Sir, my ankle looks like a (censored) U-turn.
"You better give me some (censored) (censored)."
And I don't know if you guys know this,
but black and brown people are prescribed opioids
at a lower rate than white people,
so white people have a higher addiction rate to heroin.
And I said to myself, "Huh, maybe sometimes racism's good?"
- I will say, it's a double edged sword.
Let's say you're in a community where I worked in Newark.
You had patients that'd come in
that you know are at high risk because of their environment
for developing an opioid addiction.
If you're a good doctor, you should know
that if you live in a white suburban community,
you're also at a high risk.
- Okay, good, yeah.
- But being aware of someone's risks
and tailoring their medication plan is actually good.
So in this case, the doctor that's assuming
that because someone's white,
they have a lower risk is factually inaccurate,
and therefore has led to worse outcomes.
So it's when biases work against you,
not when racism works for you.
You get what I'm saying?
- I do.
Before major surgery,
I asked if I could get something to take the edge off.
I already had an IV in and I was like,
"Can you give me a little something something?"
We're running late, I was freaking out and they said no.
And then I started barking and then I got it.
Then it went from a scary day to such a fun day.
I was telling jokes.
I did stand-up for everyone.
- I would've rather you called me
and I would've just held your hand.
- That would not have helped.
- Some people will say I'm a medication.
- Okay, they're lying.
- I started walking in my sleep.
I was living with my girlfriend at the time
and I started having a recurring dream
that there was a hovering insect-like jackal in our bedroom.
- I had the same dream, but it wasn't a jackal, it was you.
- That's because I was there.
- I was just like.
- I did buy a book, it was called "The Promise of Sleep"
and I learned that there are 78 known sleep disorders,
things that range from sleep apnea
to night terrors to narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy is terrifying
'cause there are people who fall asleep at any time.
- I think there's more than 78.
- Sleep disorders?
How many do you have?
- Primarily one.
- Yeah, anxiety induced, mostly.
- And I read about this thing called REM behavior disorder
where people have a dopamine deficiency.
That's the chemical that's released from your brain
into your body when you fall asleep that paralyzes your body
so you don't do what's in your brain.
- Interesting, I don't know if that's 100% proven
or the leading theory.
Basically, when you fall asleep and you enter REM stage,
your muscles are supposed to become paralyzed
so you don't move during this stage of your sleep
while you're dreaming.
- That's why I don't hit REM.
- So do you not feel refreshed when you wake up?
- Not very often, no.
- Five years ago, I'm in Walla Walla, Washington
and I'm staying, which is a place,
and I'm staying at a hotel called La Quinte Inn.
And I fall asleep and I have a dream
that there is a guided missile headed towards my motel room
and there was all this military personnel
in the room with me.
I jump out of bed.
So I decided, in my dream, and as it turns out, in my life,
to jump out my window.
- Oh no.
- There are two important details.
One, I was on the second floor.
Two, the window was closed.
So I jump through a window and I screamed "Ahhh!"
- And it's not like one of those action movies
where the window gets blown up before you jump through it.
- No, yeah.
- He's literally flying through a window.
- And I got up and I kept running,
and I'm running and I'm slowly realizing
I'm on the front lawn of La Quinte Inn
in Walla Walla, Washington in my underwear bleeding,
and I'm like, "Oh no".
- What does it say about him, maybe men,
that it took him literally jumping out of a window
to be like, "Maybe I should get some help for this"?
- Well that's literally what I was gonna say.
When people ask me
when is the time that you should see a doctor for something?
That's the time.
- I would say one day before that.
- Yeah, but it's hard to predict sometimes.
But that's the definite line.
- And the next morning, I flew back to New York
and I did what I should've done in the first place
when I saw the jackal.
I went to a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders
and I was diagnosed with REM behavior disorder.
And so now when I go to bed at night, I take medication
and I sleep, and I'm not making this up, in a sleeping bag
up to my neck and I wear mittens
so I can't open the sleeping bag.
- There's gotta be a better solution.
- That sounds so comfortable.
- No it doesn't.
- Yes it does.
- Struggling to escape?
- I love small spaces.
Wrap me up like a burrito.
- With gloves that you're unable to open?
The problem is, as a single woman,
they would then find me six years later.
- That's literally what I do to babies
when they scratch their faces.
- And then when you unzip babies in the morning, they go.
- Like I said, I have Tourette Syndrome.
- The best one!
When I'm with other people with Tourettes,
I pick up on their tics.
That's pretty normal.
So you're about to see my Tourettes gets worse
when I watch him.
Camera, watch intently.
- This twitch gets me in trouble.
My roommate came home from work.
I was like, "Dude.
"Our neighbor died."
He said, "Did you kill him?"
I was like, "Nah."
- That's the same as your pick-up joke.
- No, it's my customs joke
where he asked if I'm bringing anything illegal
back into the country and I was like, "No."
- Click here for when Pam reads thirsty tweets to me.
Enjoy this one, follow Pam and as always, stay happy.
- And healthy and fabulous.
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