Brody Stevens’ 818 Day is a reminder of the psychological well being struggles comedians nonetheless face

Comic Brody Stevens was discovered hanged on Feb. 22, 2019, useless at age 48, and the impression on the comedy group was rapid. Comedy golf equipment and festivals throughout the nation felt higher accountability to advertise psychological well being assets. The subject of despair shifted from onstage joke fodder to severe offstage dialog. Fellow comedians gathered for an off-the-cuff 818 Stroll in Stevens’ honor that August, named for the San Fernando Valley space code of his childhood that he would usually reference in his self-deprecating bits. In 2021, the second installment of 818 Day included the official dedication of an L.A. Parks Basis memorial bench in Stevens’ honor, funded by Mauricio Alvarado of Rockin Pins from a design he’d created with Stevens earlier than the comedian’s passing.

Since 2019, Stevens’ sister, Stephanie Brody, recollects, “I lost count of the number of emails I received from people saying my brother was the first — and sometimes only — person who reached out and helped them when they were first starting out.… We always knew my brother was a nurturing and kind person. But the stories we read took what we knew about him to a whole other level.”

On Thursday, Aug. 18, at 8 p.m., the late comedian’s house membership, the Comedy Retailer, will maintain a particular Brody Stevens 818 Day present, adopted by Saturday Aug. 20’s now-annual Brody Stevens Pageant of Friendship 818 Stroll in Reseda.

This yr’s occasion has partnered to learn Comedy Provides Again, a 501(c)(3) charity aiding performers in want of psychological well being help and dependancy therapy. After Stevens’ demise, the group shifted its focus from gala fundraising to grass-roots outreach, bringing consciousness to the darker facet of the seemingly lighthearted occupation.

“Brody always exposed all sides of himself to the audience,” says Zoe Friedman, a longtime producer/booker who based Comedy Provides Again with Jodi Lieberman and Amber J. Lawson in 2011. “His comedy made you feel like you were hearing what was going on inside of his brain, and that he was articulating it in real time. He gave audiences a peek behind the curtain of his inner workings.”

Friedman says her favourite a part of the Pageant of Friendship is the love from comedians and followers who wish to hold remembering Stevens and, in doing so, convey the difficulty of suicide to the forefront. “If we don’t talk about it, we perpetuate the stigma around it,” Friedman says. “The more we can talk about Brody and why we lost him, I believe and hope we can help others.”

The Saturday festivities start with the 9:30 a.m. unveiling of a brand new “Brody Forever 818″ mural at Firehouse Taverna restaurant (18450 Victory Blvd.) with Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, Stephanie Brody and additional family members. At 11 a.m. a 5K walk starting at Reseda Park (18411 Victory Blvd.) takes participants across the Los Angeles River and past Reseda High School, where Stevens was a star pitcher on the Regents baseball team. Registration is $50 in advance or $60 day-of starting at 10 a.m. and includes a gift bag. Afterward, a 1 to 3 p.m. celebration at the memorial bench site will feature speakers, comedian pals, a raffle, a photo booth, food trucks and music from DJ Dense of the L.A. Clippers. Merchandise including shirts and Rockin Pins’ enamel likeness of Stevens will be available.

The Valley native was born Steven James Brody on May 22, 1970. He played Division I baseball at Arizona State University, though an arm injury ended a promising career as a pro. Stevens spent time developing in the Seattle and New York City comedy scenes before returning to L.A. Tall and fit throughout his life, he remained a staunch proponent of physical activity and healthful eating.

In L.A., Stevens became known as a go-to warmup for series ranging from Fox Sports’ “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” and E!’s “Chelsea Lately” to Comedy Central’s “The Jeselnik Offensive” and MTV’s “Ridiculousness.” As Stevens proudly famous onstage of his movie credit, “‘Hangover,’ in it! ‘Hangover II,’ in it! ‘Due Date,’ in it! Cut out of ‘Funny People’ …”

His biographical one-liners (“I’m intense! I get BO in the shower!”) tended to sound extra barked than advised. Getting confrontational with viewers members sporting deer-in-the-headlights seems to be grew to become friends’ favourite a part of any night. Regardless of spouting catchphrases like “Positive energy!” or “Push and believe!,” these near him knew his huge smile might really feel unmistakably pressured.

Stevens described himself as a troubled child. “I was touched. But not by an angel,” one in every of his hottest jokes started. “The perp was supposed to get three years, but the judge gave him six. Why? Because I was molested in a construction zone.” It couldn’t have all been wholly true, however as a expertise recognized for brutal honesty, might it?

He battled despair from an early age, happening and off totally different medicines from his 20s onward. Audiences and interviewers alike have been usually knowledgeable that he’d developed “adult-onset autism.” In 2010, whereas filming his docuseries “Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!” with government producer Zach Galifianakis, he was hospitalized for 17 days at UCLA Medical Heart’s psychiatry wing and identified with bipolar dysfunction.

His 2017 particular, “Live From the Main Room,” filmed on the Comedy Retailer, divided on-line comedy followers. Regardless of acclaim because the “Prince of Periscope,” unfavourable social media interactions often leveled him. Stevens had resumed taking anti-psychotic medicines shortly earlier than his demise.

Stevens’ sister, Stephanie, who sometimes appeared as a foil in his jokes, says he introduced a much-needed consciousness of psychological sickness and the challenges that include it to the comedy business.

“He put a face on the disease and put it out there for all to see. He wanted people to see there isn’t anything to be embarrassed or ashamed about,” she says. “I see comedians talking more openly about their own mental illness struggles and how they’ve handled it. I see comedians being supportive of one another and being there for each other. I know he’d be proud of the impact he’s made … just as proud as our family is of him.”

Even within the lead-up to this yr’s Pageant of Friendship happenings, reminders surfaced that the method towards destigmatization stays removed from full. On Thursday, July 14, the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline publicly introduced its 10-digit 800 quantity would change to the less complicated 988. Later that very same night, the physique of widespread scene staple Jak Knight, a extremely profitable actor, producer, author and stand-up, was found on a Boyle Heights embankment with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the pinnacle. Like Stevens, Knight was recognized for his upbeat temper and welcoming nature.

“Telling strangers things about yourself sounds more like a therapy session than a job. But that’s the job they pick. It’s not for everyone,” says Friedman. She cites household dysfunction, trauma, despair and normal emotions of otherness as psychological causes performers could also be drawn to the career.

“Additionally, their lifestyles can be very hard and isolating: being on the road, sleeping late, long stretches of time during the day by yourself to fixate and worry about things. Comedians help make audiences feel better by allowing us to laugh. I hope that the process of telling their jokes can help them feel better as well. It only seems fair, right?”

Or, as Stephanie Brody places it, “The job of a comedian is to make people laugh. People presume if someone is funny, they must also be happy. That’s not necessarily true…. Struggles comedians experience are often masked by the sound of laughter. The comedy world is often overlooked when it comes to mental health awareness because of this. Opening up and talking about mental illness helps take the stigma away. I have noticed a gradual shift in that way of thinking. But our society needs to get to a place where mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of. I think we are headed in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.”