Julia is bawdy, wry, and unafraid. The first time I saw her perform was back in the late ‘90s at Chicago’s ImprovOlympic theater. Julia and her comedy partner, Dana Min Goodman, were performing a sketch about two women riding a subway with their chests jiggling in sync. They were so committed to their scene, even as their boobs flopped up and down, that I was in hysterics. The whole audience was.
Julia and Dana were a comedic force in Chicago — “united in our dirty humor and Jewishness!” — Julia tells me. Their two-woman show played to packed houses, they performed improv and sketch on multiple stages, and when they headed out to L.A., they appeared in a bunch of Adam Sandler movies and created the MTV series, Faking It.
But as the late, great Erma Bombeck once said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”
Which is one of the reasons Julia recently launched her website, girlyoucrazy.com. The homepage welcomes visitors with this heartfelt description: “Using humor to cope with depression and anxiety because sometimes girl you crazy!”
The site is funny, provocative, intimate, and vulnerable. On it, Julia opens up about what it’s like to live with anxiety and depression. She also offers concrete actions for readers to take if they’re experiencing these types of mental health challenges. And sprinkled throughout her posts are hilarious memes, like a girl jumping joyfully with the caption “I’M DYING INSIDE!” or a bright flower that reads, “THIS TOO SHALL PASS, BUT IN THE MEANTIME, TAKE YOUR FUCKING MEDS.”
Julia has endured a lot of pain and criticism in the past few years especially, after she and four other incredibly talented women told their story about Louis C.K. mistreating them. There was nothing funny about their suffering, and yet Julia found a way to become even louder afterwards. On her website, Julia is at her most naked self, creating something raw and real — a space where it’s okay to laugh at our own misery, where you don’t need to wait for the tragedy to marinate into comedy. Because sometimes, we need to feel it all at once.
As a comedian who’s also struggled with clinical anxiety and depression, I kept most of that hidden from even my closest friends until just a few years ago, because I didn’t know how to explain that dark pull. I certainly didn’t know how to laugh about it. And that is yet another reason why Julia’s soul-bearing site is so phenomenal to me.
Though we hadn’t been in touch in decades, I reached out to Julia recently to thank her for launching girlyoucrazy.com and to ask her how this all happened.
First thing’s first. What’s your favorite color?
Your favorite song?
BIM BAM, duh!
Your favorite way to get out of a situation where you’re feeling horribly anxious?
Leave without saying goodbye, hide in the bathroom, or Xanax!
Jews are worriers… is this like being a super-Jew?
For sure! Jewish to the max.
When you were little, what did you want to “be” when you grew up?
I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so I wanted to be a cheerleader at Oral Roberts University. But I was too chubby and too Jewish.
How did your anxiety first manifest itself?
I could never sleep as a kid. I would be up all night. At sleepovers I would have to be in another room so I wouldn’t keep my friend up! I didn’t realize it was anxiety at the time, but that was definitely the first sign of it.
And how did you team up with your writing partner, Dana Min Goodman?
We met in a level one improv class at ImprovOlympic. Sparks flew, and we had to be best friends and lifelong comedy partners.
How did you decide to tell your story about Louis CK?
Oy. It was excruciating. Not something we were excited about, but with the #MeToo movement, we got a lot of pressure to tell the story. Eventually, it was going to come out, so we decided to get ahead of it and spoke to the New York Times. It’s still hard to talk about.
You say on your awesome website, “I was going to write a screenplay about a really sad woman, but I decided to do a blog instead.” How did this come about?
My therapist and my group therapy encouraged me to write about it. I actually wanted to write a screenplay but had a change of heart because I found blog-style writing was more freeing. Screenplays can be like a math problem since they are very structured, and I’ve always sucked at math! When I became more open about my depression and anxiety, a lot of people asked how I helped myself because they were struggling. Blogging is kind of a fun, quick way to lay out what I’ve done to help myself.
What’s the hardest part about writing this blog?
Probably talking about taking medication. I was really embarrassed about that for most of my life. Putting my feelings out there like this is still terrifying, but it’s also helped me let go of a lot of the shame I used to feel about mental illness.
The most rewarding part?
I thought for a long time that I didn’t have anything helpful to put out into the world, so when people tell me that they like it or it helped them, I feel good.
I have to say, you share some amazing tools for anxiety, which I’ve tried after reading your blog. How did you decide what to share?
I’ve tried so many things! It really came down to what works for me. A lot of it is pretty basic, but I know when I’m in my head or spiraling about something, I can forget to just breathe.
Also, it’s really funny. Have you ever done comedy about your anxiety and depression?
I’ve definitely written jokes sprinkled into scripts. Humor has always helped me out of dark places. I always felt like I couldn’t find anything in the mental health realm that fit my sensibility. Everything was too medical or too woo woo. I’m cynical and sarcastic and raunchy, so I figured I could start something new.
Thank you for doing this. Seriously. Can I hug you?
All night long!
Header image photo by Comstock/Getty Images; design by Grace Yagel.