At TED’s Full Spectrum Auditions, comedian Joshua Walters, who’s bipolar, walks the line between mental illness and mental “skillness.” In this funny, thought-provoking talk, he asks: What’s the right balance between medicating craziness away and riding the manic edge of creativity and drive?
“Maybe no one’s really crazy. Everyone is just a little bit mad. How much depends on where you fall in the spectrum. How much depends on how lucky you are.” – Joshua Walters
Joshua Walters is a comedian, poet, educator and performer. He incorporates elements of spoken word and beatbox into his shows in a mash-up of comedy, intimate reflection and unpredictable antics. In the last two years, Walters has performed at theaters and universities throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East.
His eclectic combination of performance disciplines and activity as an educator in mental health has given Walters a national platform and audience. In 2002, Walters co-founded the DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) Young Adults Chapter in San Francisco, one of the few support groups specifically for mentally ill young adults in the country. As a facilitator, Walters developed humor to address the subject of mental illness, reframing it as a positive. Walters speaks as a mental health educator and has engaged in mental health advocacy at conventions and in classrooms nationwide.
You can check out Joshua’s website at http://www.thejoshuawalters.com
His bio from his website:
Joshua Walters of Madhouse Rhythm, (((JawVox))), and soon to be UnPlug, is a performer who explores language, creativity, beatboxing and madness. His solo shows are a mash-up of comedy, intimate reflection and unpredictable antics. He is a regular contributor to Snap Judgment a weekly storytelling radio show on NPR with TV broadcasts on PBS. Recently, Walters was one of three speakers selected from a pool of 600 applicants to perform a TED Talk, titled On Being Crazy Enough, exploring the Bipolar Spectrum.
Walters’ first full length solo play,Madhouse Rhythm, debuted to critical acclaim in 2008. Madhouse Rhythm is an autobiographical collage of traditional theater, spoken word, and beatbox (the art of vocal percussion). This show has had a great impact in the theater and mental health community and is now included as part of the Performance and Disability Studies curriculum at UC Berkeley. On February 22, 2011 Walters celebrated 10 Years of Madness, a performance that spurred his theater run at The Marsh in Berkeley. Each show features a completely unique blend of artistic innovation and audience interaction, captivating ages 9 to 90.
Walters’ second solo performance (((JawVox))) premiered in San Francisco in 2010, portraying an alien’s last hour on earth. The San Francisco Chronicle hailed this sci-fi exploration of human values as, “a warped reflection of our very real foibles, in the funniest possible way.” (((JawVox))) was produced in collaboration with The Climate Theater and The Hub of the JCC SF. This show diverged from Walters’ autobiographical exploration of madness to create a beatbox comedy that was madness itself.
His eclectic combination of performance disciplines and activity as an educator in mental health has given Walters a national platform and audience. Walters is a National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) State Speaker and in 2002, he co-founded the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) Young Adults Chapter in San Francisco, one of the few support groups specifically for mentally ill young adults in the country. Walters speaks as a mental health educator and has engaged in mental health advocacy at conventions and in classrooms nation-wide. As a facilitator, Walters uses humor to address the often dark subject of mental illness, re-framing it as a positive.
If Joshua Walters is from one place, he is not from here. He likes to talk to strangers. He appreciates the point of view of the outsider. He considers all human beings family, and he puts family first.