If you’re feeling depressed about Saturday’s election results, Felicity Ward’s BBC radio show Appisodes might make you laugh. About depression, and three other conditions she suffers from: anxiety, IBS and insomnia.
Ward, it seems, has been downloading a lot of smartphone apps to help her cope with these conditions, with mixed results. Can she find the answers here?
Across four 15-minute episodes, Ward looks at the full spectrum of self-help app types, from apps fronted by C-list celebrities to apps that seem more like the maker’s own cry for help. Who would have guessed that the vast majority of self-help apps are made by charlatans with no qualifications in psychiatry? Or contain largely bullshit advise?
New Zealand stand-up Rose Matafeo is the voice of an app for anxiety sufferers and gives an hilarious performance as a highly-strung mum on the edge. The IBS app, voiced by a plummy British type, takes a different approach: telling the user off in a passive-aggressive way for literally everything, while an app for insomnia is voiced for an American who picked-up some third-hand life tips in South East Asia and is peddling it for all he’s worth. Our favourite, though, was the “swimming for depression” app featuring Olympic bronze medallist Carl Chopoff. Motivational he is not.
But if you’re a little bored by stand-ups about their depression, anxiety or personal traumas, and are thinking “oh no, not more of that”, then don’t worry. Appisodes isn’t yet another naval-gazing exploration of mental illness, it’s more about parodying some of the terrible ways you can try to cope with it. And the parodies are pretty good, with some great performances from the voices of the various apps.
As for Ward, some of the jokes in her linking material are a bit groan-worthy, but it’s overall a pretty funny show.
And because we haven’t said this on this blog for a while: how hard would it be for ABC Radio to make this kind of thing occasionally? Why do Australian stand-ups have to live on the other side of the world if they want to try scripted radio comedy? Like Hannah Gadsby or Sarah Kendall have. Why can’t we do this kind of thing here?