We often find ourselves looking for difference. It’s a crutch we use to understand the world.
This is, unsurprisingly, unreliable. It does more harm than good and leaves many people singled out, their personal complexity somehow erased by one point of difference. Jacinta Gregory illustrates this in a surprising way within her self-titled comedy show Jacintegrating.
Manic depression, or bipolar disorder, is one of many mental illnesses that affects people. Gregory lives with this, but her show is about much more than her mental health.
Rather than deconstruct her experiences to convey the depths of her illness, Gregory weaves a narrative that illustrates how her life is not so mysteriously, nor vastly, different.
In this show, Gregory incorporates music, observational humour, and sketch comedy – occasionally including her counterpart Jet – to construct a narrative whole. Her decidedly dry persona captures our attention; she’s not in the business of overtly reeling in laughs from an audience.
Instead, conversations with Jet, assertions of the difference between self-deprecation and reality, musical performance, and her ability to dissect events while conveying the strangeness in the world invite chuckles without pretence.
The show progressed exceptionally, despite the small audience, and we were certainly enjoying it.
Shifting from Jet’s bizarre stories to Gregory’s anecdotes about school friends, dating in 2018, and an uncomfortable but hilarious performance of ‘Somebody to Love’ with backing vocals alone, this show gives us humour, pathos, and a provocative narrative on the realities of navigating life.
Including sketches about Gregory’s experiences of therapy as a minor element of the performance was particularly effective. Not only did this serve as a strong pacing device, it also demystified and normalised this aspect of mental health management.
Jacintegrating drives the point home that mental illness doesn’t have to define a life – certainly not from the point of view of others.