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Funny, Awkward Mental Health Stories Take Center Stage at LES Show

 Lori Baird shares a story at the first Talk Therapy event in June.
Lori Baird shares a story at the first Talk Therapy event in June.
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Talk Therapy

LOWER EAST SIDE — A shrink walks into a bar.

That's not a joke — it's the idea behind a new show called "Talk Therapy," which hands the microphone to therapists, doctors and 12-step program facilitators as well as comedians and actors to share the highs and lows of their experiences at a Lower East Side bar. Then audience members get their chance to take the stage, telling about the funny, disturbing, awkward and triumphant moments in their own mental health journeys.

"I have been in therapy forever," said the show's creator, Lori Baird, 50, who works as a health copywriter and editor. "I love hearing about it. I love talking about it."

For each show, which takes place the second Thursday of every month, Baird invites two to four industry professionals to tell their stories — without breaking the confidentiality agreements they have with their clients — and then opens up the mic to the audience.

"I am just trying to show the human face of people — the person next to you at work who might suffer from depression or the person who has panic attacks," Baird said.

Baird sets the tone by sharing her own stories of awkward moments in therapy.

"I went to this therapist and she used to take phone calls and eat during our sessions," she said, recounting a story she told at the first event last month. "['Talk Therapy'] is trying to show all those facets of being in treatment."

This Thursday, Baird plans to share a more serious story from what she described as her violent and abusive childhood.

As a 5-year-old, a doctor told her to lose 15 pounds, prompting her mother to scream at her, Baird said.

"She yelled at me for embarrassing her in front of the doctor," said Baird who lives in Astoria. "That part of my life was completely out of control. My mother was crazy."

While Baird believes sharing these stories can help people with their struggles, the show only goes so far.

"I hope it helps people, but it is not group therapy," she said. "It is also about entertainment."

"Talk Therapy" happens the second Thursday of every month from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Happy Ending Lounge, 302 Broome Street. Entry costs $5.