Columbus comedy mainstay digs deeper with one-man show

Dustin Meadows digs the Gin Blossoms. The '90s jangle-rockers scored a bunch of alternative radio hits, including “Hey Jealousy,” penned, as were many of the band's other successful tunes, by guitarist Doug Hopkins. Hopkins dealt with depression, which led to substance abuse, which led, ultimately, to his firing from the band, which led to greater depression and more substance abuse. A year after his firing, Hopkins took his own life.

Dustin Meadows digs The Kids in the Hall. The Canadian sketch comedy troupe was part Monty Python, part “Saturday Night Live,” all filtered through a stereotypically quirky Canadian demeanor. A TV show made stars of, among others, Dave Foley, and after the TV show ended, they made a film called “Brain Candy,” in which a drug is invented that cures depression.

These and other uproariously hysterical topics will be addressed in Meadows' upcoming one-person show, “Just F*king Kill Me Already.”

That's not totally true. Those topics are not hysterical, and Meadows' show is not intended to be (exclusively) funny. Even for a comedian, not everything is meant to be turned into a joke.

“I mean, the idea is still to have it be a comedy show, so I'm going to have some jokes and whatnot in the mix, but there's also … a lot of details [from] my personal life. I'm probably gonna be the rawest, the most vulnerable I've ever been on stage,” Meadows said in an interview at a Downtown coffee shop.

Which is saying something, given his standard level of raw-ness.

“So [‘Just F*ing Kill Me'] is absolutely going to be a very different show. I feel like I'm fairly vulnerable onstage and doing stand-up, but there are … some things you just cannot make funny, even when you want to,” he said.

Meadows' father died when Dustin was a student at Ohio State University. The two had a complicated and rough relationship, and his father's passing is something Meadows has attempted to work out through comedy in the past.

“I tried and failed numerous times to talk about it in my stand-up,” Meadows said. “I've never been able to do it successfully. So that's something I'm going to get into in detail in this show, how that affected me then, and affected the direction my life would go.”

And while you'd think it might be a petri dish for comic bits, driving for Lyft (Meadows was laid off from his previous job over the summer) hasn't proven funny either, in Meadows' estimation. “It's mostly just somebody getting in my car and us not talking, them on their phone, and then me dropping them off,” he said. “I suppose there are those customers out there, but that's just a work story. I think real-life experiences outside that are much more interesting.”

Amid all this, Meadows will discuss his own history with depression, taking the opportunity to talk about things an audience will recognize. In the end, he said, “Just F*ing Kill Me” isn't solely about those dark times, but his attempts at locating hope.

“My stand-up definitely started out much darker than it is now. I don't talk about depression as much now. I think lately, in general, my life has been about trying to find some kind of light,” he said, acknowledging both a longtime romantic relationship and the successes he's had in building parts of the Columbus comedy scene, including Whiskey Bear Comedy and the annual Whiskey Bear Comedy Festival. “That's definitely from just getting older … [and] from learning myself how to overcome some of this shit. Trying to be happier is hard for someone who's perpetually being told by his brain to stay sad. It's exhausting, right?”

“I've had a lot things I've struggled with, and I think I'm at a place where I can maybe say something about it, about depression and mental health. And I'd hope people would maybe understand, or even have their own stuff, and see it doesn't have to be a death sentence, that there's a way through it, and it's gonna be OK,” Meadows said. “I'm still kind of a grizzled, surly son of a bitch. But I feel like I also have a lot of room in my heart for other things. And that's kind of what I want to put out there, just the purest form of me that I can get.”