To be fair, Lauren Faber had one good shrink back in Philadelphia. Up until then, the 2016 Carolina’s Funniest Comic wondered why none of her friends would take her trauma seriously. That psychologist trained Faber to stop smiling while sharing painful stories. But 20 years of off-and-on therapy has left her wondering if counseling is a good fit.
To be clear, she loves talking about herself. That much is apparent in her stand-up routines. Faber enthusiastically dissects the contradictions and confusions of her queerness, politics and appearance. But she finds therapists have a hard time breaking through the showmanship of her self-dissection. Hardcore crushes have provided most of the good feedback. While attending Bryn Mawr College, a romantic interest highlighted the tension between Faber’s conservative politics and her queerness. Faber then got some a list of book recommendations about the history of race.
Despite all the soul-baring, introspection has never been the crux of Faber’s professional trajectory. Comedy and therapy are after-hours devotions. Her current work as a research administrator at Duke University builds upon her long history of critically examining the ethics of economic development and political power. But her prescription is the same for both humanitarianism and stand-up comedy — break the standard format and seek out genuine human connection. Faber tells host Anita Rao about the importance of personal storytelling about stereotypes, abuse and good intentions gone awry.