Making Crohn's Disease Funny - About IBD Podcast Episode 148

Making Crohn’s Funny With Matt Nagin – About IBD Podcast Episode148

We can hold two truths: Crohn’s disease is funny. It is also not funny. I speak with Matt Nagin, who has many talents, but we focus on his work as a comedian and actor living with Crohn’s disease. Our discussion focuses on how people need laughter and comedy in their lives. Yet, living with an illness like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it can be challenging to find those comedic moments. Especially when most people don’t know what IBD is, and even among those who do, they kind of don’t want to hear about it sometimes. Get tips from Matt on how to form a sense of humor about illness, keep people from getting burned out on you, and think outside the box when it comes to symptoms.


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Transcript

[Music: IBD Dance Party]

Amber Tresca 0:00
I’m Amber Tresca. And this is about IBD.

Amber Tresca 0:08
I’m a medical writer and patient educator who lives with a J pouch due to ulcerative colitis. It’s my mission to educate people living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, about their disease, and to bring awareness to the patient journey.

Amber Tresca 0:20
Welcome to Episode 148.

Amber Tresca 0:23
You’ve probably heard the phrase that laughter is the best medicine. I don’t know about it being the best medicine, but it’s clear that laughter can have a positive effect on our health. Some of the effects of laughter may include improving heart health, sleep and memory, and reducing stress and the perception of pain. If you’re a regular listener, you already know how important laughter is to me. But for the first time, I’m covering the link between comedy and IBD on this show

Amber Tresca 0:49
That leads me to my guest, Matt Nagin. Matt is a comedian, actor, writer and Crohn’s disease patient. He has been involved in the IBD patient advocacy community for years sharing his experiences through his writing and his comedy.

Amber Tresca 1:02
Coping with Crohn’s while doing stand up presents some challenges. But Matt tells me what got him started in comedy and how he manages pain and other symptoms before a gig. Plus, we dig into how and why people with chronic illness should think about how they can focus on making space for comedy, laughter and joy in their lives.

Amber Tresca 1:25
Matt, thank you so much for coming on about IBD it’s really great to meet you.

Matt Nagin 1:29
Well, it’s fantastic to be here ever. Thank you for having me as a guest.

Amber Tresca 1:34
Oh, it’s my pleasure. And I wonder if we could first start by you giving an introduction. That’s probably not an easy thing to do, because you do a great many things, but maybe the condensed version.

Matt Nagin 1:46
Well, I, like you said I am in various different fields. I’m a comedian. I’m a writer, actor, former teacher of writing and had Crohn’s disease for over 30 years. I’m from New York. I currently live in the wondrous Alabama, right now Montgomery, Alabama. And that’s been quite a change. And it’s given me some material. So that’s a short, brief introduction to myself.

Amber Tresca 2:12
Right, yeah, we’ll start with that we’ll start with the Crohn’s disease, because we want to get a level set. I know from engaging with some of your social media, and then speaking with you that you’ve had quite a journey with Crohn’s disease. And so I wonder if you would start at the beginning, let me know about when you were diagnosed, how that went, and then maybe take me through into how you are today. Sure.

Matt Nagin 2:36
So I was diagnosed over 30 years ago, I, when I was say, around 10 years old, I used to have all kinds of stomach pains. I would eat a salad and then go lay on the couch. You know, my family, it was a very male dominated family. So they call me a worse and say I was making it up stuff. But I would have all these issues. Then I started vomiting from my parents kept thinking it was a flu, somehow this flu lasted three years, but but eventually I had, it was just a terrible night of vomiting, bile and whatever.

Matt Nagin 3:11
So I’m getting into all the details, but but we ended up going to the hospital when I was in Florida. And they said I had appendicitis. And they operated, then why woke up. They’re like, you don’t have appendicitis you have Crohn’s disease. But he’s like, we removed your appendix anyway. So that was like, I felt bad that they just taken out body parts. I guess it could have been another one that would have been worse. But, you know, that was like the start of it. And, you know, I’ve had a 30 year journey since with Crohn’s and many ups and downs. And but I’m surviving and thriving now.

Amber Tresca 3:46
Yeah. Do you think they went in, and they felt like they had to take something out? Or they had to do something? So they just said, Let’s just take that appendix while we’re in there.

Matt Nagin 3:56
Yeah, they’re like, we’re, we’re already on the clock. So we, you know, you know, we want to earn our salary. And, yeah, there was there was a lot of extra charges on the bill I’d been I thought they should have gotten the appendix and free if they’re, you know, since I didn’t really need to take it out. But anyway, that was the beginning.

Matt Nagin 4:15
That was a lot of ups and downs with it. I probably done every drug that they have. Well, the drugs that have with the Crohn’s so I’ve done the little drugs, you know, in the hospital and out of the hospital, like Crohn’s drugs and the pain drugs that they give you morphine, Tylenol, three codeine, Percocet. That’s, I mean, that’s like they really hook you up in there. You know, not that you want to be in that situation. But if you’re having a blockage, which I’ve had probably, I don’t know, six, seven times, sometimes you need that stuff.

Matt Nagin 4:47
So I had two other surgeries. But luckily, the last one, you know, they were both in this one area, like when I was in my 20s. So since then, which was around 23. I haven’t had to have an Have a surgery or in the last few years, I’m drug free. So that’s been pretty remarkable how I’ve gone from pretty much in a terrible state. I mean, I lost 50 pounds. I was just horrible, horrible state basically, where I was not able to eat for 11 months.

Matt Nagin 5:19
Basically, I was balling had egg drop soup, and I couldn’t eat anything solid. Maybe see like egg drop soup. And jello was like my diet for 11 months. The celebrities should take note but you know, but yeah, that’s that’s the star for me.

Amber Tresca 5:35
Yeah, the jello. I think if I never see jello again in my life, that would be totally fine.

Matt Nagin 5:42
Exactly, exactly. Especially when you’re on the prep the colonoscopy prep. They like say that’s one of the few things you can eat. So you just pounded jello, you like go into town. You go to jello anonymous or something. But I was just scooping down. I don’t know. A lot of boxes. A jello.

Amber Tresca 5:59
Yeah, so you were did it start when you were 10. And you were diagnosed when you were 13? Or how did that timeline go for you?

Matt Nagin 6:06
Yeah, about 10 to 13 diagnosed when I had the appendix, then there was two years where I went back to New York, they’re like, we don’t really think you have it. I was able to stay off drugs, and I was okay. But all these issues started coming up. And they did more tests in that reconfirm.

Matt Nagin 6:21
So basically, when the surgeon opened me up, he could see it was very inflamed. That’s how they diagnose it, I guess, the original time? Because he could. He’s looking at my intestine, and it was read and coffee, whatever. We know, whatever the term is that they have. He’s like, You got some problems, man, you got to work on. He was giving me all these dietary restrictions I gotta have.

Matt Nagin 6:42
And my mother was a neurotic Jew was freaking out, oh, my boy, you know, like, bought all this stuff that I didn’t even follow some of that. But then I ended up doing my own. It really took me I tried every diet, that known to man that they have like all these books, and none of them work to me until I found my own kind of protocol.

Matt Nagin 7:02
So like every single one that they have out there. I probably tried. It’s like what the drug is I probably tried every drug test. I’ve had every test if you name a test, I probably had it. But he talks like have you had the capsule endoscopy? That’s like one that not everyone’s had. I don’t know if you’ve had that.

Amber Tresca 7:19
Yeah, well, I’ll be honest, we tried to do the capsule endoscopy. And they gave me the patency pill. I don’t know if they did that for you as well. Because if it gets, if that capsule gets stuck, then they have to go in and do surgery to remove it. So they gave me the patency pill. And the patency pill got stuck.

Matt Nagin 7:40
Oh my god.

Amber Tresca 7:41
So yeah, so I’ve I’ve actually never had that test because they can’t they can’t give that one to me.

Matt Nagin 7:48
Wow, that’s crazy. Got stuck. No. Mine came right out the back end. I saw it in the toilet. I don’t know. They don’t, you don’t give it back to them. I can’t remember the protocol. No, I think you just let it let it go for posterity. Yeah. Oh, that’s good. That’s good. Yeah, because some of those tests are a little humiliating, like when they make you collect your own feces. And then you have to scoop it into the little bottles. And then you have to bring it back to the lady who’s holding it and your hands. It’s like, it’s a very weird encounter.

Matt Nagin 8:16
Because I was in an office she’s like, are you done with your stool tests, and she’s screaming it out. And all these people are looking at me, because she’s screaming about my stool test and how I put it, she’s like, You got to put the stool and all the vials that you made in that vial. And it was, it was awkward.

Matt Nagin 8:30
But anyway, that’s what we go through. But we got to rise up above it and, you know, make the most of our life. That’s what I think is very important to try to transcend the best you can it can be very difficult, but try to find positivity or joy in your life, in spite of all this madness.

Amber Tresca 8:51
I agree. 100%. And I think you’ve found that in various ways. And it’s because you are a comedian, you are many things. But I want to focus on the comedian, part of the grand spectrum that is Matt Nagin. How did you get started in in comedy because it doesn’t really seemed to like go like, like, okay, Crohn’s can be funny. But being a comedian isn’t necessarily something I would assume that uh, that a person with Crohn’s would would gravitate towards.

Matt Nagin 9:22
That was kind of random. It wasn’t my first inclination. I was always into creativity and writing since a relatively young age, and I’ve written poetry books and other books, humor books, but a lot of my writing was humorous. Basically, just start with people were gravitating to when I would take a writing course people were laughing at what I wrote. So it was kind of other people encouraged me to try it.

Matt Nagin 9:46
And I was very reluctant because it wasn’t my natural proclivity. But I thought there’s a way to show what I was writing. That’s what started me in it, but it was it was rough for a while. I mean, my first time going on stage I did a five minute routine about my elbow going in for a job as a substitute teacher. Okay? And oh, come on, man can I get Can I get a job? No, we’re not in the habit of hiring bodies. discriminate against elbows, like this went on for five minutes.

Matt Nagin 10:16
And you’re kind of laughing but they were not, okay. They were horrified. And then the guy comes backstage the guy, what are you doing? You’re talking to your elbow for five minutes, you got to talk about relationship, you are drugs, you got to things people relate to it, you know, and but that got me started, I was so bad that I was like, wow, I gotta figure this out.

Matt Nagin 10:36
And, and you know, and I’ve been doing it all these years, and it’s no better

Matt Nagin 10:39
No, but it’s I know, I, I you improve and you learn different ways of writing jokes, integrating what I do read sometimes stories, jokes, I mix it in, in different ways, different audiences crowd work. It’s a kind of thing, once you start doing it can be a little addictive. Because if you’re getting laughs, and you’re getting a nice response, there is a there I think there’s a therapeutic aspect to it more than anything else.

Matt Nagin 11:07
Because even though I’m not really talking much about Chrone’s whatever’s going on in your crazy mind, it’s sometimes an outlet to express these ideas or thoughts you have. So but I do think it was part of my healing for me personally, to express things that were important to me and have other people identify or laugh or get where I’m coming from?

Amber Tresca 11:30
Where was that the first time you got on stage? Was it in New York? Or was it somewhere?

Matt Nagin 11:33
In New York, it was a place that’s now defunct called Sal’s Comedy Hole. It’s about as classy as it sounds. But yes, that I went up there. Because I had been at this retreat where we did this improv, and I was pretending to be this alien, and everyone was laughing. And that sort of fired me.

Matt Nagin 11:57
I was like, All right, that was that same day, I’m gonna just go to an open mic. And I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t prepare anything, I just wound that elbow. And I was just like, let me just see what happens. And that could be I improvised that other thing.

Matt Nagin 12:09
So I figured I could just go up and improvising. And anyway, that’s what got me interested in it. And over time it developed. And I’ve done a lot of stuff now since that, but that was the beginning. Right? So

Amber Tresca 12:22
Sal’s comedy Hole. I don’t think I can say that without laughing.

Amber Tresca 12:31
When I think about comedy clubs, I think about an atmosphere that might not be very conducive to somebody who’s dealing with Crohn’s dealing with symptoms. You say you’re, you’re doing relatively well. Now, but I imagine that you were also doing stand up at times when you weren’t doing well. You know, how do you handle that before you go on stage?

Matt Nagin 12:51
No, that’s true. But Well, for me, in terms of bathroom usage and stuff, I find that if I eat close to a show or whatever, I’m doing a performance that would be problematic. What I do is I don’t do for a few hours before the show, I seem to go on energy anyway, eat after. So that’s like number one for me. I never eat before or even close to present, I might have to go to the bathroom or something. Not that I it’s never happened.

Matt Nagin 13:18
But yeah, there’s been issues here and there. There have definitely been missed shows, but I try not to miss no matter what you know, and just kind of ride through it. But there’s definitely some nights when you don’t feel well, when I have, you know, on and off. Now I’m doing a lot better but chronic pain. So you could be in pain up there. And you’ve got to muster the energy and be happy.

Matt Nagin 13:39
And I know I’m not the happiest that but you know, a little happy you got to bring people in a little bit. That’s the that’s the performance aspect.

Amber Tresca 13:47
Yeah.

Matt Nagin 13:48
And sometimes you don’t feel like doing that show must go on what I what I found is it’s an amazing thing, though. It’s hard to explain it better than this. But I found that for general, the symptoms kind of bait if you need them to abate I know that sounds weird, but not if you’re like having a blockage or like some crazy thing going on. Obviously, there’s exceptions, but for a lot of the cases, they’ll either abate or they won’t abate but your be so distracted that you’ll make the best of it.

Matt Nagin 14:16
A good corollary is this book and an Anthropologist on Mars by this man named Oliver Sax. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with him, but he’s a neurologist. And he has these case studies and one of the case studies is this guy, Carl Bennett, who is a Touretic individual has Tourette’s. And he can’t stop those nervous tics.

Matt Nagin 14:39
But when he he’s also a surgeon though, so when he operates on people, his nervous tics cease, and he’s able to, for whatever reason, operate smoothly. Take out the organs that now I probably wouldn’t be very confident if I knew my surgeon was a Touretic individual I might have second thoughts, but it works out. He’s obviously very skilled. So I’m not shaming his name.

Matt Nagin 15:05
But I’m just saying, that’s the kind of thing where with the Crohn’s as a corollary, you would think every five minutes, I’m up there on stage, excuse me, I need a bathroom break. But no, I’m able to all of a sudden, somehow, maybe we’ll hang out, do my thing, and then run to the bathroom as soon as I get off, so you know what I’m saying? So I’ll be able to make it happen.

Amber Tresca 15:25
No, I know exactly what you’re talking about. And then at least what happens with me or what I’ve spoken to some other people about too, is that you’re you’re pushing through acting like you’re not in pain, and you you might be in pain or have other things going on. And you push through, you get done, what needs to get done, and then there’s kind of a crash. Do you find that that’s what happens sometimes?

Matt Nagin 15:51
Definitely, definitely. 100%. And then there’s no question. I’m getting a little older. So energy to I have to do more things now to maintain the energy. And I tried to be, especially on stage like energetic act, yeah, to a certain extent. So that’s another thing that there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it. What I try to do is not focus on it too much.

Matt Nagin 16:12
And just try to make the best of the parameters that I’ve been given. It’s like you’ve been given, let’s say, you’ve got a 4-7-9 Ace, this is not a good poker hand. But I’m going in there and I’m bluffing, you know, and I’m playing. Like, I got a full house here. You know, they don’t know that I have this lousy hand like this is this got nothing? But you know, then I just got to work with what I got here. That’s kind of my, I don’t know. So I bring it back to gambling.

Amber Tresca 16:44
I’m gonna take your word for it. And when you think about

Matt Nagin 16:49
I was gonna say the podcast is brought to you by the World Series of Poker. There’s a promo, but

Amber Tresca 16:55
That would be great, can you hook me up?

Matt Nagin 16:59
We’ll talk later. Okay, okay.

[Music: IBD Dance Party]

Amber Tresca 17:05
After the break, why it’s difficult to make Crohn’s funny.

Amber Tresca 17:21
Right now, you’ve said that you don’t include a lot about Crohn’s in your act. And we can get into why that is. Because I think Crohn’s is both funny and not funny at the same time. I think it kind of depends on the day for me, it depends on the day.

Amber Tresca 17:41
Sometimes I can see you know, like Dumb and Dumber, the diarrhea scene. Not funny. Okay. Bridgesmaids, the diarrhea scene. 100%. funny to me. Like, I don’t know what the differences there. But that’s where I’m coming at it from. I’m wondering how you incorporate that into how you are thinking about your Crohn’s and how you’re dealing with that in your everyday life?

Matt Nagin 18:05
Well, in terms of in terms of the material, I haven’t had as much success with that material with a mainstream audience. So it hasn’t been prominent, but I would like to do it. I think anything is game for Crohn’s. I do have some material like older material. I can even give you a sample if you want. But the I haven’t made that an emphasis just because I have so many other topics.

Matt Nagin 18:28
But it’s not that I’m close to it being part of my my standard app, but I’ve done Crohn’s shows where it’s like those audiences totally get it’s just the average person. There’s a little bit of explanation and there isn’t a little bit of not everyone gets everything about Crohn’s and the commonality. From my perspective. Everything is fair game for humor.

Matt Nagin 18:48
Robert Klein, who’s like had 11 HBO specials told me when I asked him about that, it’s just, you know, if you’re gonna do a joke, there’s 9/11 of the Holocaust. It’s got to be a better joke. It’s not that you should joke about it. But it’s got to be really, because if you do a joke about Beanie Babies, or Hello Kitty, and people don’t laugh, no big deal, but you do a joke about 9/11 It’s a little more awkward.

Matt Nagin 19:07
So that’s, that’s the only that’s the rubric I use. I don’t think anything should be off. But but you know, humor is very can be very healing to deal with this and gallows humor. I love I like that kind of stuff. So yeah, no, that’s the only reason but like, I think I mentioned I did this rap video called Illest MC by my alter ego, Lil Crohnsie that we played at the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation event at the Garden City hotel, and it’s on YouTube and whatnot. And that was like, a way to channel some of my frustration with Crohn’s into a creative kind of comedic thing. So it has and I’ve done Crohn’s shows,

Amber Tresca 19:45
Do you think that you would be okay with being known as the comedian who has Crohn’s or is that something that you think you’ve tried to avoid? I mean, you did do is it little Crohnsie or lil Crohnsie?

Matt Nagin 19:59
Lil Crohnsie, you Like little baby, little, you know that that was that was the whole I had to have the dollar sign in there because he’s getting the you know, bling bling.

Matt Nagin 20:09
So, so So yeah, no, I mean, there are other comedians, like who are actually household names who have it like Pete Davidson, you know. And but but I wasn’t personally trying to be known as a Crohn’s comedian or anything like that. But it was such a big part of my life. And I’ve been involved with the CCFA and other charity. And my two of my brothers have it that for me, I decided just to be open about it might hurt my career a little bit, but I’m not sure. But it’s not like, I’m playing the Radio City next weekend.

Matt Nagin 20:45
But you know what I’m saying so, so but but but I felt like I felt like anyway, for me, it was important to be real about it. I like to live as authentically as possible. This is just part of my life. Fortunately, I’m doing well now. Yeah, so that’s where it was. It wasn’t like some strategy to do chrome shows or anything like that.

Amber Tresca 21:06
Did you ever try any Crohn’s material in front of a non IBD audience?

Matt Nagin 21:11
Oh, of course, many times. That’s what I’ve said I have, I’ve had a hard time getting that across that other stuff, to non IBD, or et cetera. And that’s why I haven’t otherwise it’d be a bigger part of it. Because I find it. It’s just, it’s just one of those things. It’s just, it’s hard to explain, it might be just my skill on that. Now, you’re inspiring me, maybe I’m gonna work out some similar stuff and try it. But I’ve had a heart attack. It’s had a hard time with not IBD audience.

Amber Tresca 21:36
Right? I mean, because on the one hand, everybody poops, right. So everybody understands that experience. And everybody has had diarrhea, or worse, at least one time in their life, right? Food poisoning, something like that. So I’m just kind of wondering like, is it the? Is it the poop thing is that you know, something that you think maybe mainstream audiences have a more difficult time with? Or what did you try? Like, was there something that you tried? And that just didn’t go over?

Matt Nagin 22:06
Well a bunch of different material. No, I don’t think it’s the I don’t think it’s that. I mean, that could be a little aspect of it, actually. Yeah. But But I don’t think it’s that really, you know what it is, I just think there’s a lot of explanation you have to do to get people on board.

Matt Nagin 22:20
A lot of people don’t even know what Crohn’s is. Like, I can give you a look. Yeah. So IBD, for the average person. I remember, I’m in the South. In New York, it’s a little different. You say Crohn’s people know that. Okay. But down here, for example, which is where I’m doing a lot of stuff, there’s a little more explanation, and I like to get to stuff fast. So it’s a little bit harder one I find.

Matt Nagin 22:43
Now, that just might be how my act is or what I’ve been doing, but I’m not close. Like I said, I would totally do it. And I used to do those Crohn’s shows, and I had stuff that was clean. That wasn’t even, like you want to give you a little sample what I says you want to see.

Matt Nagin 22:56
So I’d say something like I say I have Crohn’s disease, at the thing with Crohn’s is no one knows what a Crohns is like, what’s a Crohn? God forbid you get that Lou Gehrig’s disease, at least you have instant brand name recognition. You can wear your disease with all the pride of a Hall of Famer. Right? And then you got that chronic fatigue syndrome. That’s kind of a what’s the condition, right? You got the chronic and now you got the fatigue, boom, you’re done, go take a nap and call me when they find a cure other than an espresso.

Matt Nagin 23:27
So that was like the start. And then I go into this whole thing about what Crohn’s is. And that was totally clean. I don’t know, just it was hard to hard to get across. And I had one about the anal probe with the aliens and that, that people were so worried because the aliens are coming and I said, Oh, no, I had to get a colonoscopy every year. So at least anal probe has nothing to me. You know, obviously, I’ll save a $10,000 hospital bill and stuff like that. But to a regular audience it never really I don’t know. It just I got to work on it. Maybe Yeah.

Amber Tresca 23:58
Or find the over 45 crowd who’s had their screening colonoscopy.

Matt Nagin 24:05
Maybe get into more the, the fecal matter and all that I definitely that there’s there’s stuff in there that’s definitely write for humor. It’s just not what I what I focused on for whatever reason, but I think there are comedians that do it. I think it’s totally there’s a guy named Ben Morrison who did a whole show on just on his Crohn’s. So I think it’s totally possible.

Amber Tresca 24:32
Yeah, I agree with you about how laughter comedy so important to all of us. I think it is especially important to people like us who lives with these really stupid, chronic complicated diseases. And so I’m wondering if you have any advice for people on how they can include comedy, laughter joy in their everyday life or their small things or their big things? A comedy guru, tell us tell us what to do.

Matt Nagin 25:06
One piece of advice would be a lot of people, and that there’s nothing wrong with watching humor, that’s, that can be healing in itself with watching, stand up watching funny movies. But in addition, I really think keeping a comedic sensibility about your own experiences as they’re going on, can be really helpful, healthy, and really good spiritually for you, like, able to look at it from a kind of a wider lens to try to look back like you’re an ego, overlooking the whole scenario, and how you fit in with all the other Crohn’s patients and all these, this whole medical apparatus and this whole world that we’re in.

Matt Nagin 25:47
And that’s what’s great about comedy can I find also, here’s the thing about why it’s so good. If you can laugh at yourself or find humor, maybe you keep a diary, maybe you’re just funny, you’re a bit of a cut up with your friends. It’s great, because people, a lot of people say like, they don’t want to hear about your Crohn’s, which there is some truth to it, if they don’t have it themselves, they probably don’t understand it, and they might not want to hear it.

Matt Nagin 26:10
But if you’re able to pepper in a little bit of self deprecating humor about it, people are a little more open to hearing about it. You know, though, because he kind of humanizes the whole thing. And it’s showing you’re not taking yourself too seriously. So that’s why I think it’s a really good coping mechanism socially, and just spiritually for yourself.

Amber Tresca 26:31
I think that’s really good advice. I probably am very annoying, because whenever I’m having a procedure or an exam, all I do is make dumb jokes, right? Like, I think it probably gets kind of annoying, because that’s the only way sometimes I know how to cope with it when you have a person, you know, who is looking at your body parts. And it’s uncomfortable, and I just start making jokes, you know, just like, anything that comes to mind. I just start making jokes, right?

Matt Nagin 27:01
That’s, that’s great. You know, that’s, that’s better that because, you know, my grandmother always said, laughing the world laughs when you cry and you cry alone, it’s actually from a poem. It’s not like she came up with it. But it’s, it’s a great, it’s from a powem and she she lifted it.

Matt Nagin 27:16
And it’s great advice. I think, you if you’re able to laugh, you, you actually, if you’re going through a hard time you it’s sometimes it’s hard to understand you can’t but if you’re able to find it, you will get more sympathy you will get it’s weird. It’s a weird counterintuitive, it’s like if you cut away from getting sympathy, people will give you sympathy and want to be around you.

Matt Nagin 27:37
Whereas the other way, they’re just gonna be like, a little much. So. So it’s a it’s a very useful tool that’s underrated. And as you go to the doctor, he’s not going to prescribe you two tickets to Gotham comedy club, but you know, it might have some some benefit.

Amber Tresca 27:55
Yeah, maybe they should, I don’t know. prescribe us all, some Comedy Central or some. They should when they when they give you the list of things that you’re supposed to do or not do. After you get diagnosed. One of those things might be, you know, go yeah, go watch. Additionally,

Matt Nagin 28:14
yeah, they should have the Crohn’s awards, everyone gets a golden toilet, you know, something like that. We can have this. It’s just crude humor. We have a whole channel. I don’t know. This is just thinking outside the box.

Matt Nagin 28:26
But and I think I mentioned this on another podcast, but I’ll say the laughter yoga. That’s the thing that’s popular in India. And also, I was involved with the Gotham comedy Foundation, and the founder claimed to have healed his cancer by watching Marx brothers movies, the Three Stooges just laughing itself, got his mind off it. And that’s why he started the Gotham comedy Foundation. And I’ve heard crazy stories like that. I know it sounds pie in the sky. But if your mindset is isn’t a positive frame of mind, it certainly can’t hurt. And it might have miraculous benefits.

Amber Tresca 29:00
Right? Mindset is so much of it. And the distraction aspect. I will say though, after surgery, laughing is a little rough. Laughing on the inside versus on the outside.

Matt Nagin 29:18
Right, exactly. You’re like please, no more. No more. You’re cut off. But yeah, I understand what you’re talking about. Because you got that surgery scar you’re like, yeah, so you got to be very careful. But fortunately, my family is not very funny. So I didn’t have that problem.

Amber Tresca 29:38
Oh my gosh, well, maybe that’s why you went into comedy. It’s just a natural response. There needed to be somebody funny in your family.

[Music: IBD Dance Party]

Amber Tresca 29:52
Coming up next, Matt’s advice for people living with IBD

Amber Tresca 30:08
Matt, we’ve talked a lot about comedy and how that relates to your journey and chronic illness. Do you have any general advice for people who live with an IBD?

Matt Nagin 30:18
Well, for me, there is a certain level of control that we have a lot of people think this is their fate, and that there’s nothing they could do just have to listen to the doctor. And it feels very hopeless. I try to come from a point of that, take steps that you can control, and try to empower yourself to give yourself a little bit of agency in a booster spirit, just the fact that you’re taking these steps.

Matt Nagin 30:42
And there are things you can do. There’s no guarantees, unfortunately, it’s a horrible condition. But it might benefit you. And at least you’re working towards something you’re taking action. So that gives you a sense of empowerment. And hopefully, it actually works at a certain point. So so. So I think I think that’s the way to approach it. And you can do that while still following your doctor’s protocols. That’s there will be my point on that.

Amber Tresca 31:11
What makes you laugh? What do you like to see when you are seeking something out?

Matt Nagin 31:16
Well, I like stuff that’s a little edgy. I like stuff that that kind of pushes the boundaries of the appropriate so that’s probably my favorite but I get what I enjoy all kinds of humor. I do enjoy like the clean humor like like a Brian Regan or something too. So I I’m very open minded with it.

Matt Nagin 31:34
I kind of one of those people, I’m always studying different comedians or different types of comedy going back and writing to go and Voltaire and all it’s Swift. I’m one of those people that thinks there’s many ways up the mountain. And I kind of gravitate towards all of it. That’s why people like watching different specialties. Everyone has a little bit of a different vibe, a different personality, different attitude experiences. So, you know, it constantly changes.

Matt Nagin 32:01
But for someone like if you go back classically, so what like Don Rickles was one of one of my favorite comedians that I know. Now he’s, with all those scandals, has had some issues, but Woody Allen is was probably what got me into comedy, because he was like, such an inspiration to me. So, and I’ve always loved his movies and whatnot. So we won’t get into the other side of it. But I just thought his pure creativity. I mean, he’s the I’ve always thought he was one of the funniest out there.

Amber Tresca 32:36
Matt, you have quite a corpus behind you. So but I want everybody to be able to find you and to find Lil Crohnsie. Can you tell me what are the places that people can engage with your content online?

Matt Nagin 32:51
Right. So at all social media, I’m at the NaginPlease. N A G I N, please. And also I have a website, MattNagin.com. I got my calendar of upcoming shows on there. Right now. I’m in the South. I do go back to New York area and other areas. Oh, I’d love if you check out my social media and the Chrome’s rap might be right up your alley, and I have some stand up close clips up there that you can check out. And that’s pretty much it. I really appreciate you having me on here today, Amber.

Amber Tresca 33:28
I really am just overjoyed to meet you. laughter and comedy is just so important to our lives. And as adults, I think sometimes people lose that. They lose that wonder and that joy and that ease of laughter that children have and so I think we have to work at keeping that in our lives and and bringing it back to ourselves.

Amber Tresca 33:53
So I appreciate all that you do to make us laugh to make me laugh many times during just this half an hour. And I will put all of your information in the show notes so that people can find you and best of luck with everything going forward. Best of luck with being in the South. As a New Yorker.

Matt Nagin 34:16
I need it because last night I was performing for three pigs, two chickens, so you know this is with it when a rooster heckles you you know it’s rough but I appreciate that. And there’s not a lot of Jews down here only Jews for Jesus so I I appreciate any love I could get from your audience or check me out online and I may want to hope to do a comedy you know, YouTube’s special, and a lot of my material now is about being sort of the outsider down here in Alabama. So if you’re into that topic, you could check out some of that too, when that comes out. But thank you so much for having me on. I really enjoyed it and I liked talking with you and hopefully this gets them a different little perspective how to look at Crohn’s and how to cope with it.

Amber Tresca 35:10
Hey, super listener.

Amber Tresca 35:12
Thanks to Matt naked for finding some time to talk with me about how he manages IBD as a professional comedian, be sure to follow him across social media as Nagin Please, and check out his website MattNagin.com for upcoming appearances. Don’t forget to swing by his youtube channel so that you can get your fill of his alter ego Lil Crohnsie.

Amber Tresca 35:34
As always, links to a written transcript everyone’s social media handles and more information on the topics we discussed is in the show notes and on my episode 148 page on about ibd.com

Amber Tresca 35:46
Thanks for listening. And remember until next time, I want you to know more about IBD.

About IBD is a production of Mal and Tal Enterprises.

It is written, produced, and directed by me, Amber Tresca.

Mix and sound design is by Mac Cooney.

Theme music is from Cooney Studio

Amber Tresca 36:12
Procrastination, which I’m guilty of as well. I’m a writer. That’s all I do. Like if I have a deadline, my house is really clean.

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