At the age of 22, comedian and Eugene native Max Brockmann began performing stand up comedy as a way to overcome social anxiety and depression. He was also dealing with an ongoing struggle with substance abuse problems, which continued for several years before he made a commitment to change and received some importance advice from people in the recovery community.
“About six years into doing comedy I decided to attempt to stay sober, and I was advised to keep a sobriety journal of my experience,” said Brockmann. “I started writing in both my joke journal and my sobriety journal, until they both eventually started to bleed together.”
In June, Brockmann released his first stand up album, “Normal Within Reason,” which primarily features material that emerged from his blended joke and sobriety journals. That same month, he also started a stand up comedy show called “Sober Thoughts – A Recovery Showcase.”
“My goal was to start a monthly comedy show at a comedy venue targeted for people in recovery,” said Brockmann. “That way people in recovery would have the option to go to a traditional comedy show that they could feel comfortable at.”
Brockmann will be hosting the third edition of Sober Thoughts this Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Drake Bar in downtown Eugene. The show will be headlined by comedian Darin Thompson of Salem, and will also feature Eugene comedian Mike McGowan.
Thompson met Brockmann several years ago at Oregon’s Funniest Comedian Competition, and the two have been friends ever since.
“He is a great guy and a super funny comedian,” said Thompson. “He asked me if I would do the sober show a couple months ago and I gladly said yes.”
Thompson, who recently performed at a state prison as well as the Carson Nugget casino in Nevada, has found that substance abuse issues are a common and unfortunate reality for many comedians. Observing his peers go through these struggles has motivated him to stay on a different path.
“I have always done comedy sober, and feel sad when I see other comedians with so much skill and talent trade it all in for their addiction,” said Thompson. “I think seeing this story happening over and over again has strengthened my conviction to stay sober.”
Brockmann acknowledged that while addiction is a serious issue, Sober Thoughts is meant to be more of a “way for people who suffer from it to laugh at and about it than a serious look at it.” He also said he was very pleased with the responses to the first two shows, and urged anyone who’s interested to attend.
“The best part of putting this show on so far has been meeting people who share the same issues,” said Brockmann. “Recovery is inherently a group social activity, which is not so far off from live comedy. Anyone is welcome to come watch sober thoughts, sober or not.”
The Drake Bar is located at 77 W. Broadway Ave. in downtown Eugene and is open every day from 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. For information about other upcoming stand up comedy shows in the area, check the Eugene Comedy Scene Facebook page.