When I first saw the Facebook page for Jenn Hayward’s one-woman-show Jesus Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist, I thought it would be fun to see. But once I read her blog, I knew it was a show I couldn’t miss – and neither could my family.
Jenn Hayward is a mother of three who at the age of 38 penned and performed her autobiographical play which debuted at the Saskatoon Fringe Festival last August. She’s been performing comedy in Ottawa since 2007 and credits both stand-up and her family for helping her through mental health issues she’s had since she was a child.
Jenn is an astonishingly open and ferociously funny woman who wants to encourage dialogue about women and mental health – and make you laugh your ass off while doing it. Earlier we chatted via email about her show’s titillating title, the importance of setting boundaries, and why she’d pick Wanda Sykes as her understudy.
Why should we come to see Jesus Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist? (playing 2-5 March 2014 in Ottawa)
Mostly to laugh, then to cry and then to laugh again. Honestly the main reason to come is to be engaged in a dialogue that is long overdue. My story is one that is relatable to many people. Maybe not ALL of it lol, but some part or another. Also supporting local artistry is always reason enough, but the fact that this show has received great reviews thus far should provide more confidence in your ticket purchase!
What is the toughest part about doing this one woman show?
To me it’s the producing part. I am thankful to have a publicist [Susan Murphy] who is doing so much legwork; she is amazing! The rest is just time management. When I perform my husband usually is home with the kids but this show has him involved (he is the voice of God) so it’s managing sitters and such. This is NOT a child friendly play. 🙂
What’s the best part about doing the show?
Doing the show! All of it; the writing was fun, rehearsing with the husband, the reviews and accolades have been nice, but to me the best part is when I have a woman who comes to me after the show and says “I’ve never talked about my mental health, I’ve always been ashamed, thank you.” Every show, EVERY show I have at least one woman approach me. This is the best part of this show, having this important dialogue.
I would imagine some people might consider your show’s title controversial. How did you come up with it and what would you say to people who may pronounce it as a cheap marketing ploy?
The title of the show is very representative of what is in the show. I have had people love it and one of my besties back home hate it, lol. I chose it easily for one reason; it is direct and really gets to the meaning of the show. I talk about God, I talk about sex, I talk about feminism, and I talk about mental health and how all of that connected in my life.
You’ve dealt with mental health issues since you were 11 years old and were 35 when you were diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. What is BPD and what sucks most about having it?
Oh dear, there is so much. It’s not known as the fun disorder to be honest. I’d say I think this explains it best: http://bpd.about.com/b/2009/03/07/maintaining-a-friendship-with-someone-with-borderline-personality-disorder.htm
When did you start becoming vocal about your own mental health issues and why?
I used to do jokes about it on stage but it never felt right. Just making fun of being crazy has never been what I’m about. That’s why I wrote this play I guess. It wasn’t until after I wrote it that I really understood myself and my last 20 years the way I do.
A good friend of mine who is in AA talks about being a “grateful alcoholic”. Is there any part of having BPD that has made you grateful for what you’ve learned, or lead you to positive experiences that outweigh the pain of BPD?
Not really, though I will find the humour in everything, it’s hard to go through it. I am relatively stable now, have an amazing job, friends etc., but I still have those bad thoughts.They will always exist; I’ve just learned better management.
In one of your blog posts you talk about the intense pain of having a former friend cut ties. What do you do to help yourself get through that kind of pain?
I’ll let you know when it happens! I have had friends come and go, but in the end I always remember who has stayed, not who has left. This last one was particularly hard, but sometimes space makes life better. BPD people can be prone to drama and sometimes the person triggering the drama needs to be gone. Ultimately the only way to get rid of the pain is to feel it and let it pass.
I always considered myself to be comfortable handling mental health issues because of Mom’s history with bipolar disorder, but I’ve been slow with looking into my own. If I were completely honest I’d have to say I’ve been dealing with some anxious behaviour since returning from Afghanistan, and sometimes wonder if it’s related to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). What advice would you offer advice to people dealing with mental health issues of their own?
My advice is that first you are not alone. So many people suffer, many in silence. The second is to seek information and help. The third is to then stop reading about it. We can become so obsessed with learning about the disorder that we start to hate ourselves for what it says. Finally, my advice is to never use mental health issues as an excuse to hurt others. This may in fact happen – I have lashed out with harsh words or neediness while in my pain – but in the end no one deserves to be treated badly, ever.
One of the hardest things for my sister and me to handle was not taking it personally when Mom wasn’t well. What advice would you give people who care about someone with mental health issues that occasionally lashes out?
Funny I didn’t read this before the last question! I would say forgive them, but have STRONG boundaries. We as mental health folks need to learn to manage on our own. My husband doesn’t try to fix me; he just loves me and lets me know where his boundaries are. He will have to put his foot down and trusts our relationship. Be compassionate but also take care of yourself. Accept apologies but don’t allow yourself to be mistreated. It’s a balance.
With everyone talking Oscars, who would pick to be your understudy for Jesus Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist?
This is a great question. I think Wanda Sykes, not for any other reason but that she’s my comedy hero! 🙂
My mom was diagnosed with bipolar disorder more than 25 years ago. Last week I called her at 5:20 am to read aloud one of Jenn’s blog posts likening a messy accident in her Jacuzzi to dealing with the crap life throws at us. Mom laughed her ass off and told me to buy her a ticket to Jenn’s show.
Jesus Loves a Crazy Horny Feminist is playing in Ottawa March 2, 3 and 5 at the Arts Court Theatre on 2 Daley Avenue from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 each and the show is for (mostly) mature audiences only.