Tag Archives: The Exes

How laughing will save your life

This weeks post is probably one of the most important subjects I’ve ever written about.
It’s about laughter and the amazing, powerful, rejuvenating effects it can have on us.
Laughter is literally life saving.

When we laugh, we boost our immune system and trigger endorphins which are the bodies ‘feel good chemicals’.
If you are an addict or alcoholic, then I know you’re gonna be all about those feel good chemicals.

That’s exactly what addicts are chasing, an artificial way to make themselves feel good.
In recovery we have to learn other ways to make our selves feel good. And laughter is one of the easiest and most effective ways of doing it.
When I was in early recovery I truly didn’t believe I would ever laugh again. I was certain I was never going to have fun and my life would be boring and glum, but at least I would be sober and not causing damage to myself or others.
Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth!
I can actually remember the first time I really laughed in recovery. You know that helpless, belly laugh kind? Where the laugh just takes over you and you surrender yourself to the pure enjoyment of it.
I was shocked to discover how amazing it felt.
I had laughed plenty of times when I was high or drunk, but I realized there was a significant difference between laughing organically and laughing through chemical intervention.

So if you are in early recovery I urge you to take every opportunity you can to laugh.
Which is why you should really check out Kristen Johnston’s sitcom The Exes, which is back on TV on December 11th.

I’ve been immensely grateful for the support Kristen has given my work. She has tweeted and Facebooked my blog and even let people know she bought my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop.’ Kristen has a big following so this has made a tremendous difference in getting my work out there.

Kristen Johnston

Kristen Johnston

In return, I wanted to check out the work she has done. I read ‘Guts’ which is excellent, but I really hadn’t seen any of her shows. I’m British so I never really saw ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’, I do remember her cameo in Sex and the City but I’ve not seen her in much else.
So I was keen, but slightly nervous to watch The Exes.
I’ll be honest with you, I usually prefer British comedy. I like my comedy dark, edgy, a little bit rude and preferably with lots of swearing. I also just don’t get all the humor in American sitcoms. I never really got ‘Seinfeld,’ (I know shoot me), Louis CK just doesn’t do it for me, Friends was just too obvious, so I did wonder if I would even like The Exes.

Well big relief, it’s actually very, very good. The Exes is actually cleverly disguised as just another situation comedy when actually it is edgy and deliciously rude in just the way I like my sitcoms.
There is one scene in particular that makes me laugh helplessly every time I see it. It involves Kristen’s character and a cucumber…(please scroll down to the bottom where the is a clip of it, I dare you not to snort with laughter).

The Exes is shown on TVLand on Wednesday December 11th at 10.30p/9.30C. I can promise you if you check it out just to support Kristen’s work, you’ll end up staying because it hits all the right spots of funny.

So in order to aid you in the life saving task of laughing, I put together some of my absolute favorite clips from British comedy shows and a hysterical scene from The Exes. Take a couple of minutes to set off some endorphins to boost your immune system, because laughing is one of the best things about recovery.
Please let me know which one’s you like.

Gavin and Stacey was a huge hit in the UK. It was a story that centered about a young couple who meet fall in love and get married. The humor is in their relationships and interactions with their eccentric family and friends. The clip below is from their Christmas special, and as we are into December I wanted to include it. It manages to celebrate the friendship between two best friends in a way that is both heart warming and hysterical. It’s just so very, very British.

The Thick Of It is a documentary style political satire that pushed the boundaries so far you literally gasped at their audaciousness. This clip is actually from the movie ‘In the Loop’ that spun out of the show. The main character Malcolm Tucker is a work of such comic genus that I don’t think anyone will ever match his brilliance. Tucker is a ‘spin doctor’ (media communicator) with the British government. He is in Washington to do damage control at a UN convention. The brilliance of Tucker is how he is able to insult people with almost Shakespearian eloquence. I have to warn you, there is a lot of swearing in this show and if you are easily offended this probably won’t be your thing…

Alan Partridge is my secret crush. Created by the brilliant Steve Coogan he is a legendary figure in the UK. Partridge is a middle aged, crap radio and TV presenter who has no self awareness. Every time he opens his mouth he offends someone. He is also based in Norfolk which is where I’m from, so I have a particular soft spot. This clip is actually the trailer from the movie ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’ that was released last year. It tells you everything you need to know about Alan…

Some mothers do ‘ave ’em is a TV show from my youth. In my opinion the brilliance of Frank Spencer is without parallel. I don’t really know how to describe him. He is basically incompetent at everything and always getting himself into pickles. He is also extremely lovable. This show has always been able to reduce me to a helpless mess of laughter.

The Exes is about three divorced guys who share an apartment across the hall from their divorce lawyer Holly (played by Kristen Johnston). The show follows their careers and dating disasters. The clip below evolves Kristen’s character being instructed on how to wash a cucumber….It’s the facial expressions that kill me.

Book Review: ‘Guts the Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster’ by Kristen Johnston

A while ago someone pressed a copy of ‘Guts’ into my hands, with the admonishment that I ‘had to read this immediately.’
So I promptly put it on my shelf and forgot about it.
Having recently had a baby, the only books I was interested in were; ‘How the f**k do I get this kid to sleep’ variety.

But after meeting the author on Twitter (where else) I decided to pick it up.
You’ll know Kristen Johnston from her hit shows ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’ and ‘The Exes.’ British readers will remember her as ‘Ivana Humpalot’ in the Austin Powers movies and for a hysterical cameo in ‘Sex and the City.’

Me reading 'GUTS.' Ask KJo about the finger.

Me reading ‘GUTS.’ Ask KJo about the finger.

As this book is written by a comic actress you would rightly expect it to be very funny. It is a funny book, however I actually found the jokes to be a distraction in the first few pages.
I felt like Kristen Johnston was giving the reader the version of herself she thought they expected, and she didn’t want to let them down.
I wondered if this is how Johnston is when you first meet her in person. That she uses humor as her armor, creating an illusion of openness and intimacy, which actually deflected you from seeing who she really was or what was really going on.

If you are looking for a ‘celebrity memoir,’ with funny anecdotes about famous people, you are going to be disappointed.
Johnston barely touches on her upbringing, rise to fame or acclaimed career as an actress. They are mentioned in passing; instead the book is an invitation into the soul of an addict as they battle their fear and denial.

There were two parts of the book in particular that made me shudder with recognition.
The first is where she describes witnessing her brothers bullying.
With no means of voicing her feelings, she violently lashes out at one of his tormentors.
Describing this as one of her many ‘ill advised decisions.’ I felt it was actually a truthful reaction to extraordinary pain. She had no other way to express how she felt except violence.
Her feelings were demanding a release.
This type of irrational, compulsive behavior is ‘normal’ in someone who has learnt to protect their inner world, by building a wall around themselves.
It should therefor come as no surprise, that this little girl grew up to become addicted to ‘pain pills’ as an adult. It was inevitable that she was going to have to find a way, to numb the pain of feelings she could never dare express.

The second incident that touched me, is when the first crack in her wall first begins to show. Johnston has been admitted to a hospital in England for life saving surgery, when her intestines literally burst from all the drugs she had been taking. Because she is in so much pain and can barely move, she has to ask a nurse to help her wash her hair.
As an adult, she realizes this is the first time she has ever asked anyone for help.
By this point in the book, her loneliness and isolation are palpable, and the simple act, of another human being tenderly washing her, is almost heart breaking.
It’s clear that Johnston has never let anyone in and the sheer thought of it terrifies her.

The reason this book should be compelling reading for any addict or alcoholic, is just how much Johnston reveals of the inner life of an addict.
She rightfully claims to being completely unoriginal in her feelings and behavior, her experience of addiction is just like anyone else’s.
Addicts will do anything to prevent anyone seeing who they really are, they will fight tooth and nail to defend the wall they have built around themselves. Johnston is certainly no different.

Like many addicts Johnston paints a picture of determined self-reliance.
Believing she can just power through anything with her grit and determination. Unwilling and unable to face up to her reality, I believe it was no coincidence that her body finally forces her to see what her mind refuses to.
Thousands of miles away from home, friends and family; unable to work, she could do nothing but stare at the ceiling and contemplate how things have ended up this way.
Too weak to fight and with no distractions, the wall she had built around herself slowly begins to crack.

“I suppose I was also grieving for the loss of the unfeeling, jokey, impenetrable me.”

Inevitably when that wall cracks; grief, loss and loneliness flood in. Johnston shares all of this with the reader. Then, for someone who has determinedly hidden her true self from the world, she begins to discover who she really is, for the very first time. Vulnerable, scared and very lost she begins the journey back to herself.
The miracle of recovery is, that despite everything we have believed about ourselves, who we really are is glorious. We don’t need to hide or be alone anymore because who we really are is just fine. This book convinces you that if Kristen Johnston can discover this, then so can you.

Kristen Johnston

Kristen Johnston

Because of her stature, Johnston has often been referred to as ‘Amazonian.’ The description fits her not because of her height, but because she is a warrior.
Guts is the account of a lone warrior battling to stay in denial before finally waging the courageous battle of sobriety.
It is a privileged glimpse into her inner world and I hope very much that this warrior has finally found her tribe.