Laughter has always been a coping mechanism. Comedienne Blaire Postman is using humor to share her journey with long-undiagnosed A.D.D., and the lessons learned in her own unique way with her one-woman show Blaire Postman: Struggling Chartist.
It was a pleasure to speak to her via Q&A about her inspiration and drive.
What was the catalyst that inspired Blaire Postman: Struggling Chartist?
The inspiration for Struggling Chartist came in phases.
Before quarantine, I’d been doing 5-10 stand-up sets of one kind or another each week, traveling to New York for shows as much as once or twice a month, and traveling the country to headline indy comedy clubs, or to feature for nationally renown headliners at really large clubs. But I felt like it was time to build something just for me. I just didn’t know what.
Like it or not, once quarantine hit, I suddenly had the space to start exploring questions I’d already been asking myself, such as “what are my comedy goals besides getting booked at this or that club for a weekend” and “what would be the most most fun and a gratifying way for me to grow in comedy?”
Then in the summer of 2020, someone said “your History of Super Bowl Halftime Shows flip-chart bit is a big hit, and you seem to naturally gravitate to that style. Maybe do more of those flip charts now that you have the time, and put them online.” So I started a series of videos called Flip Out Friday that I posted on Instagram (you can still see them on IG or YouTube at @PostmanComedy). They were all comedy bits using flip charts covering everything from the glories of my original home state of New Jersey and the FEMA Waffle House Hurricane Intensity Scale (which is a real thing), to the movie Mean Girls and how I come up with a party music playlist.
It was more than enough content for a couple of headliner sets. And, at first, I just thought I’d eventually use them when I performed at clubs.
But I started to hear the question “why are you drawn to creating comedy using flip charts” more and more. Which I hadn’t thought about much more than to say “that’s how my brain works.”
However, it occurred to me that people didn’t understand much about the science and chemical causes of ADHD (which I have, and is not caused just by “watching too much TV”), or the ramifications for me of having ADD but being undiagnosed, and then undertreated, for the first 35 years or so of life. Among other misunderstandings, ADHD isn’t about not being able to focus on anything, but rather about not being able to regulate focus, or that interest-triggered “hyper-focus” is a big part of ADD. But another component of eventually thriving with ADHD (for me) was finding ways to effectively communicate the many fruits of the amazing creativity, break-through thinking, problem-solving skills, and other talents often found in ADHD people, including myself, to the vast majority of people who are more linear or straight-line thinkers.
So threading the story of how I came to embrace, love, and succeed with my ADD “tornado” brain turned those funny and fun flip chart comedy bits into a little less of a typical stand-up headliner set, and the comedic one-person show, “Struggling Chartist.”
What keeps you excited in comedy?
Well this project certainly has! Generally, I love to let my mind land on subjects other people aren’t really telling jokes about, and then to tell them from a different perspective or in a different way than you might expect. I like to think that most of my jokes or bits aren’t things you can imagine any other comic telling, or at least not in the way I tell it.
What words of advice would you share with someone who is struggling with something that is meant to break them?
Great things are NOT born fully formed, they evolve. Doing the different thing, the difficult thing, and then pairing that with persistence, finding a way to have resilience, that’s where greatness comes from. The struggle is the thing that’ll either make you quit, or make you great. That said, you don’t have to struggle alone. Reaching out for help is an example of doing a difficult thing that yields greatness.
How did you find your funny bone?
I don’t remember ever not having it. I was listening to George Carlin and Richard Pryor records in grammar school (perhaps I shouldn’t have). If anything, I denied it was something I should seriously pursue for a very long time, and each time I denied it to myself, it would get me into trouble. That saying “If you don’t bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you” was exactly me and comedy when I wasn’t actively performing.
Why should we come to the show?
Well, I hear there will be booze there. But seriously, if I might be so bold: I know that I’ve learned a lot of amazing, hilarious, and unexpected things through creating these comedy flip chart bits. And THEN I learned even more about life from developing the show’s narrative about “why” I create those bits. So, while I know you’ll laugh a lot and be entertained, you’ll also be really surprised by what you learn – not just cool trivia about weird pop culture things, but about the advantages that come with thinking about things differently. And who better to teach you that than a neurodivergent person who’s been officially diagnosed as someone who thinks differently?