Getting to Yes, And

Tara Schuster: Glow in the F****ing Dark


Tara Schuster

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Kelly connects with former Comedy Central executive Tara Schuster to talk about her powerful book about the work she's done as an adult to overcome a very rough childhood.

A line I've used before is that nobody got into comedy because they are well adjusted – does that register for you?

“Yeah, it definitely rings true, particularly around, you know so much of comedy is telling stories that are a little more extreme but contain a universal truth that everyone can relate to. And so those of us who have had experiences at the extremities, I think, are the ones who can tell those stories the best. But I also want to say that I don't think that the archetype of the suffering artists who's just struggling, and everything is hard. I really reject that. And I don't think you need to be depressed or a drinker or have a million issues in order to be funny.”

Your first book starts with you waking up fully clothed after a night of partying, playing phone messages because you drunk dialed your therapist the night before and talked about taking your own life.

“She was so freaked out, and she was like a very calm European woman who, mostly in sessions, always had like a little mug with the tea bag and the little string coming out of it, and a kerchief around her neck. She was freaked out so, to hear how scared she was in the messages really scared me into realizing I didn't have parents growing up, really, I didn't have parents who nurtured me. They were incapable of taking care of children. This has led me to have severe anxiety and depression, and if I didn't do something to save my life, I wouldn't have much of a life to live. So that's where my first book begins.”

And the first book was about re-parenting yourself and this new book is about finding who you are today.

“If I had never been laid off, I don't know that this book would have happened because I had used that job as a magic trick, you know, like: look at me, I'm working with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele and David Spade, and I'm like glamorous, and I went to the Emmy's. Look over here, but don't look over here at this quarter century of complex trauma that's keeping you up at night. It was such a duality there, and once I lost my identity - for example, people would introduce me as Tarar Schuster, Comedy Central, like it was my married last name. I worked there a third of my life, so I just had no sense of self, and that's why I went on this journey was because I lost it when I lost that job.”

Photo credit: Diana Ragland

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