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An Interview with Lizard and Her Analysis on Grief in Inside


Today's interviewee was brought to my attention on the-little-social-media-app-that-could Tumblr. While everything else is becoming commodified with links and followers, the former juggernaut of weirdos is still chugging along (and it's the best place to read my thoughts on comedy currently).



So I was perusing the "Bo Burnham" keyword as you do, and I came across this post that you can easily guess why it piqued my interest.



A full dissection of every song in Inside and how they relate to mental health, grief, and closure in a post-COVID world? Yes, please!


After reading the full paper Lizard (her pseudonym that will be used for the remainder of the interview to protect her anonymity) had posted on her Substack, I knew I had to reach out and learn why she wrote this and how she hopes it will help people.


Luckily, Lizard was excited to discuss her background in mental health studies and how Bo's masterpiece affected her personally as well as letting me know what she's working on next.


Here's my interview with Lizard, which has been edited and condensed for clarity purposes.


Stand-Up Comedy Historian: Hi, Lizard! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about your recent Substack post about Inside and how Bo Burnham helps to create closure for his audience post-COVID.


Lizard: It's my pleasure!


SUCH: Awesome! Since you've requested to remain anonymous, can you please tell my readers what you do without being too specific?


Lizard: In my offline time, I am pursuing a Ph.D and working on research projects for social issues and mental health. I’m also an educator and I am a trained mental health clinician.

 

SUCH: Wow, that's a lot, and good luck with getting your doctorate!


So do you have a specific background in psychology and therapeutic services? You seem to have a firm grasp on current methods of mental health counseling, specifically on the pandemic grief scale.

 

Lizard: I am working on my fourth degree in a mental health-related field—fingers crossed that I finish it soon.


I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor’s of Social Work. As I am currently working on my Ph.D, I have both the clinical knowledge and the research analysis background that allows me to pivot between multiple perspectives.


Grief questions Lizard provides to fill out


I personally love measurement development as a research methodology. So, I snuck in the Pandemic Grief Scale to demonstrate a point but also because that’s the world I typically live in.

 

SUCH: Awesome! Thanks for the background.


So let's get into the topic at hand.


When did you first watch Inside? Were you a fan beforehand, or was Bo Burnham entirely new to you?

 

Lizard: I watched it for the first time a couple months after it was released. To tell you the truth, I was nervous to watch it after seeing the initial reception of people talking about how intensely emotional it was.


In order to prepare, I listened to the soundtrack in isolation for a month before I finally sat down to watch the special. Nothing could have prepared me for the full experience though.

 

I’ve been a fan since the early days on Youtube. So, it’s been wonderful to see him develop as an artist, especially as we’re around the same age. I feel like I grew up with Bo.


His special Words Words Words came out shortly after my grandma passed away, and it was all that I could stand to watch for a few weeks. The elements of grief in Inside felt very full-circle to my experiences watching Bo because his works have always helped me through hard times.



SUCH: Wow, that's an incredible story that Bo has helped you process grief in the past.


I first watched Inside an hour after it became available on Netflix on the East coast (4 AM), so I had a very different experience. I was hoping he'd release the music because I loved it immediately!

 

So what inspired you to write your thorough analysis and post it online? Have you previously written about grief and mental decline, or was this a new topic for you to explore?

 

Lizard: The original idea was just to get my analysis down on paper. My partner repeatedly told me that other people weren’t watching the special with the same lens that I was [Ed. note: You can show him r/boburnham or check out my early deep dives on here to see how ridiculous that sentiment is haha].


To be honest, I wasn’t sure that was true. So, I waited for the initial hype to die down, and I checked to see if anyone had focused on the grief element. When I couldn’t find a focused analysis like that, I decided to at least get it out of my head.


I didn’t know I was going to post it until I surprised myself and took the leap. I’ve written about mental health before, primarily in a scholarly context. But this is my first grief-specific piece and a new entry into speaking to the general public.


SUCH: Well, I for one am glad you had decided to post your thoughts. It was a great read and well-supported!

 

What’s your favorite sketch/song/bit in the special and why?

 

Lizard: It’s obviously difficult to choose, but I think that How the World Works has stayed the closest to my heart since my initial watch.


A frightening interpretation of Bo and Socko on Amazon after Inside was released


I think, given my proximity to these social issues, it resonates on multiple levels. I spend a lot of time in high-level theory discussions about oppression and they often have a surreal and detached feeling to them, which I think Bo captured with Socko.


SUCH: Fantastic choice. I've actually done a LOT of research on everyone's favorite Marxist sock puppet, which you can read here.


It's a fan favorite for a reason, and Bo's goofiness and then quick turn to authoritarianism is chilling when you watch it the first time. Plus that dichotomy STILL makes me crack up lol.


So how long did it take for you to write your thorough dissection of Inside and its music? Was it hard to locate scholarly resources about the topic?


I have a post myself that includes a number of academic articles about Bo Burnham, and I imagine that list will be growing in size in the coming years.

 

Lizard: I spent three days working on it, with two of those days being focused on outlining and note-taking.


I couldn’t tear my brain away from it once I started, so I ended up writing the full piece over 16 hours in two major bursts.


I published it a bit hastily, but I am glad that I did because I could’ve seen myself revising it endlessly. It would’ve been my Leaves of Grass.

 

The resources that I used weren’t too difficult to find because I wanted to focus on connecting to the mental health world and COVID more generally. Luckily, a majority of my professional work requires resource identification, so that’s easy enough.


I struggled, actually, with limiting myself so I didn’t overwhelm my readers with academic works. Instead of using resources to tie back to other analyses or to validate specific text analysis techniques, I primarily sat with my interpretation in isolation. I was nervous about that because I do run the risk that what I’ve said has been said before without me realizing.


For the bit of music theory that’s present, I had to refer out to many of my friends who have musical training to help me validate my hunches.


SUCH: Sixteen HOURS?! Wow, that is amazing considering the quality of your writing and scholarship. Bravo!


I always appreciate works cited and footnotes, but I'm an English major and I could see how that could be overwhelming for most people outside of academia whom you are trying to reach.


Speaking of music theory, I'd noticed that you had mentioned the excellent Dissect podcast and Cole Cuchna's analysis of Inside, broken down song by song.


Cole Cuchna, host of Dissect


Did that help inform your own writing? And which was your favorite episode in that series? Mine was All Eyes On Me because I have no background in music theory, so it was fascinating to learn how Bo uses the pentatonic scale and voice modulation to maximum effect in that song.


I also have the podcast included as April 30 in a Bo podcast a day here if anyone would like the links for all nine episodes in the Spotify series.

 

Lizard: To be honest, I struggle with podcasts as a medium, so I only listened to the first two episodes of Dissect. Basically, I’m a fraud.



However, I acknowledge that they took a very careful look at the special and analyzed it with a bit more dignity than I did—so I wanted to be able to point readers to additional work.


The discussion that I enjoyed from Dissect was when they talked about the form of the work as a process piece that was documenting itself. I think that since Bo has always been known for turning a genre or form on its head, that was the perfect place to start in the analysis.


SUCH: Agreed! I've gotten more into podcasts because of Bo, and Dissect also has a fantastic series on Because the Internet by Childish Gambino if millennials being discontent with social media is a subject that interests you.


So my friend Quentin Stuckey (whom I had interviewed earlier this year) had written a Master's thesis and academic article about Inside and mental health. Did you happen to read it? If so, what was your impression of his analysis? I found it to be really thought-provoking and insightful.

 

Lizard: Yes! I read your wonderful interview with him and it led me to his Researchgate profile. I read his public article on All Eyes On Me.


Quentin Stuckey


It was wonderful to see the same elements that I discussed present in Stuckey’s analysis. Specifically, the cuts and edits that I refer to as dissociative, Stuckey describes as the film being “anxious to get onto the next scene.” The parallels I’ve seen throughout the few analyses I’ve read demonstrate exactly what I would expect from qualitative work; you can’t make the material something that it’s not, but you can build your interpretation over the core elements.


It’s also super interesting to see how some of the elements that provide the comedic relief are also the ones that primarily set the tone of mental health struggles.

 

Something that struck me from Stuckey’s interview was when he mentioned that his textual analysis bumped up against the social sciences and he had to be careful to tread the line between them. That was validating for me, who had the opposite problem: my speciality is in the social sciences and I was speaking a bit outside of my expertise in my textual analysis. I think our analyses make a good compendium.

 

SUCH: Yes, I absolutely agree with you. Quentin's article and yours have really helped me make sense of WHY Inside affects me so personally.


Quentin and I also did a podcast interview together for his YouTube channel (which you can watch here).



A photo of my setup for the interview—see my crochet Bo?


In that video, we came to a similar conclusion that Bo's masterpiece helped us to pause and reflect on the global trauma of 2020 (it was perfectly timed!). So it was really satisfying seeing your analysis reaching that conclusion as well.

 

Do you feel like the popularity of Inside is due to that release of tension and trauma that it enables its viewers to experience? A comedy special is a fantastic medium for sneaking in deeper discussions, in my opinion, and Bo does it masterfully.

 

Lizard: I think that Bo had the specific advantage that he had gained viewer’s trust before the special.


Something I didn’t comment on much in my analysis was Bo’s previous work and his career trajectory. I do think that he leveraged his viral fame and dedicated fanbase to benefit the irony of the medium.


I think that another comedian, either less developed or less known, could have done the same with much less support or success. Although I think comedy has historically always been about observation and commentary—in the current day and age—only Bo could’ve done everything that Inside did.


SUCH: I never thought of it that way because Bo's dedicated fanbase had dwindled significantly since Make Happy (as far as I know—I became a fan in 2019 after seeing Eighth Grade).


I suppose he had lingering goodwill from the incredible success of his directorial debut in 2018, but he truly gained a TON of fans with his Netflix pandemic special.


I do completely agree with you, though, that only Bo Burnham could create a work of art like that!


So how many times did you watch Inside? What do you think of The Inside Outtakes? Did they change your argument at all or help support it?

 

Lizard: I’ve watched Inside about a dozen times, and the soundtrack made it to my number 1 on Spotify for the last couple of years. I was also fortunate enough to see it in theaters near me when it had its short run [Ed. note: Same here! It was so much fun to see it on the big screen].


I’ve considered doing a separate analysis on the Outtakes, as they stand on their own in a lot of ways.


 

I think that Bo’s decision to move some of the more humorous and light songs to The Inside Outtakes was a deliberate choice that helped make Inside more immersive.


I also feel like the Outtakes represent a phenomenon that we’re only recently noticing from COVID; the personal experiences and even the positive experiences that were had during COVID are somewhat detached from our overall mental narrative. At least in my head, there’s the COVID bad-times and then there’s everything else.


SUCH: Oh wow, that's really thought-provoking! My kids have actually told me that they are nostalgic for the start of COVID. I guess while adults were panicking and thinking the world was ending, children were just enjoying the freedom of being home from school and playing Among Us heh.


 A game we played as a family in January 2021


Back to your analysis.


I really appreciate how you analyzed Inside as a digital text of sorts. I personally believe current definitions of art will need to expand to better account for how artists like Bo are reinventing streaming specials, and I consider his masterpiece to be of a film more than a comedy special.


What is your take on the antiquated labelling of specials like these, and how can we best adjust such labels in this age of streaming and digital consumption?

 

Lizard: I would absolutely agree with the label of film, but I also acknowledge that there isn’t one term that perfectly encapsulates Inside. I think that all art forms are constantly developing and shifting whether we contribute to that intentionally or not.

 

For example, my first craft was poetry and we’ve seen this new minimalist-style Instagram poetry absolutely take over. I have struggled with this change to my form because the minimalist form doesn’t include poetic techniques—the thing that defined poetry for me. However, a new generation now has an introduction to an art they might not have otherwise encountered.


I think the way that we adjust is we hold on tight in the creative realm. Some people will adapt to newer methods, and some will be pillars of the older forms. I don’t necessarily think that either is correct.


With the internet-age in full, commodified bloom, I think we are going to see a resurgence of forum-style communications in the next few years. Trends always seem to move toward modernity and then backwards to analog options. That pendulum is swinging faster than ever, and I think many people have become disillusioned with the current options in the digital age.  


SUCH: Yes, agreed on that point. I know that I'm completely disheartened by the state of social media and really only interact on Reddit and Tumblr, two semi-anonymous means of communication that aren't as reliant on likes and followers. I would certainly welcome more forum-type social media! I truly miss message boards lol.


But I digress.


You mention in your writing that Inside depicts mental health issues and grief in an empathetic manner and provides closure, thus helping to normalize problems with anxiety and depression in general society. What do you think is the most powerful representation of mental health in the special and why?

 

Lizard: My instinct is to say All Eyes On Me, but maybe that answer is too simple.


Personally, I think there is an underrated quality in the moments that Bo demonstrates outbursts. Anger and irritability are especially stigmatized in grief. So, being able to see these meltdowns is more important than we recognize.


Bo's temper tantrum near the end of Inside


I think that is why the song that hit me hardest on the first watch of Inside was Facetime with my Mom (Tonight).



The moment where he’s screaming at his phone was impactful because it was such a raw and real depiction of what mental health struggles can look like within a family dynamic.

 

SUCH: Oh, for sure. Bo's outburst before All Eyes On Me is shocking the first time around, but once you know the beats of the story he's trying to tell, it makes complete sense. I imagine the "GET THE FUCK UP!" line is similarly a wake-up call to our brains to shake us out of monotony.


In fact, a few people have posted on YouTube about that exact scenario occurring. It's amazing how many lives Bo has touched through his masterpiece!



And I adore that triptych image of the three Bos reacting to his mother. While they all get angry at one point, the left one is entirely bored by the end, the right is sobbing uncontrollably, and the middle (ostensibly the "real" Bo) is apologizing profusely for getting upset. Really cool visuals that depict a multitude of reactions.


Yelling Bos and the three versions of Bo at the very end of the song


So the BBC claimed earlier this year that the pandemic did not cause a mental health crisis and had a “minimal” effect on people’s mental well-being: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-64890952.amp.


What do you think of this study? It seems to run counter to reality, in my opinion, especially considering the phenomenal reception to Inside and Bo’s works.

 

Lizard: I’m so delighted that you asked this question. As soon as I saw this article earlier this year, I read the original research study that they were referencing because my research senses were tingling.


I’m not going to critique the specific study since I can do that in my paid work. To the author's credit, the initial study is a living document where they plan to continue adding studies as they are published. So, the “results” that are being reported in the news may change.

 

What I will say is that research has limitations and we will not see the true effects of COVID for at least another decade. There will also be issues that get missed because of how research gets funded and produced.


For example, in many places in America, clinics providing methadone for substance use recovery suddenly stopped services. I doubt we will ever see the impact of that reflected in scholarly research. It’s also important to recognize that when a study clearly has results counter to the overwhelming majority of anecdotes, there’s probably a methodology issue. Since research is always working to name, describe, and understand what is going on in our lives, it’s going to be a bit behind.

 

I think that people could benefit from a better understanding of what happens in research, especially in the social sciences. One of the reasons that I am invested in measurement is that our measurement of social constructs is key to good results. If we can’t say that our questionnaires accurately measure something like depression, how can we say whether something works to reduce depression?


Additionally, research is supposed to help the “experts” talk to each other. We’re trying to identify and archive new understandings of what’s happening on a very generalized scale. So, a lot of what the public sees through news articles is a very tiny slice of a much larger conversation.

 

Short answer: if it doesn’t reflect your reality, trust your own expertise.


SUCH: Yeah, that particular study was roundly criticized on social media (and for good reason). I like your advice there! Something to keep in mind in our digital world that never quite lines up with the real world haha.


The stigmatization of mental health issues continues in the United States, with many right-wing critics claiming recent mass shootings to be the work of the mentally ill (rather than being an issue with guns, apparently).


How do you think society can best fight against the growing notion that people with chemical imbalances should be shunned and ostracized? I have anxiety, depression, agoraphobia, CPTSD and OCD among other diagnoses, so these arguments that you just need God or to quit complaining really upset me. I have found that therapy AND my medications work best for me (and one cannot be substituted for the other—I need both to want to live in our fucked-up world).

 

Lizard: There’s a lot of good information in your question but I will try to keep my answer brief.


The political implications of mental health have been wielded by legislatures and organizations for a long time, especially in the United States. It has always been politically favorable to paint your political enemies as mentally ill, but this is a huge disservice to the people who are being labeled.


We’ve seen this repeatedly with eugenics movements. It’s important to recognize that mental health is a social construct, and not a biologically verifiable issue, so that means that people who have power can change those definitions (especially if they can sell those definitions to the general public).

 

You mention chemical imbalance, which I have a piece on. I agree that a combination of therapy and medications is an excellent treatment plan and has been beneficial to a lot of people. It’s important though that I share that medications do work for some.


However, it’s been shown that they do not work because of chemical imbalance. The drug companies aren’t even allowed to use that phrase anymore, even if doctors still do. We know that there isn’t a single neurotransmitter that causes mental health issues but we know that medication still works for people. Two things can be true at the same time and I don’t want this information to seem intentionally divisive. One of my goals as an expert is to help destigmatize mental health by bringing the general public up to speed with what the professionals already know (or are supposed to know).

 

I tell most people that we know as much about mental health as we do the ocean. While this may be a bit oversimplified, the key is that if we had the answer then we wouldn’t have the dire mental health situation that we currently do.


Additionally, you were right when you pointed to the “fucked-up world” that we live in. There is a big conversation finally happening in mental health that our overall quality of life has declined and these reactions are a result of that. Our suffering points to a larger, systemic issue and not necessarily an individual issue of biology.


Now, I won’t say it’s that anyone needs God or to get over it. These reactions are painful and very real—but the system they have built around it isn’t quite as real. The key factors that I have seen repeatedly are social support, personal fulfillment, past trauma and relieving the shame from it, exercise (unfortunately), a safe environment, belief in change, and financial security.


Now, as you’ll notice, some of these are outside of our control and some are easier said than done. That is the true tension of mental health in the current society. How do we live well in a culture that has us living at our worst?

 

Now, to your main question: how do we fight stigma and isolation of those with mental health issues? Stigma is a tricky concept. Research is really mixed on how to counter external shame and self-stigma.


However, we know that approximately half of all adults will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some point in their life. It’s not quite enough to say, “but so many of us are going through this, so it’s normal!” Many people have been told repeatedly that they, and their reactions, are abnormal and unchangeable. That’s a difficult belief to change, no matter how common the experience is.

 

We have to start looking at how we define mental illness as a whole. The current DSM allows someone to receive a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder as soon as a couple days after a major loss, like the death of a loved one. Is that an appropriate label? The people whose answers matter most are the ones who work in our systems. State actors and clinicians assign labels every day based on a flawed book to people that have an impact on how they view themselves, how others view them, and how they view recovery.

 

We have a sick society, and we need to be caring for ourselves and each other in ways that feel right for us. Research has shown time and time again that social support, financial security, and anything that reduces shame is helpful for our mental health.


So we start there: social support, community programs, resources, and access to them. Part of why I started writing outside of my work was to make management techniques easier to access. If we treat the symptoms, we can feel better alone. If we treat the system, we can provide a better environment for anyone.


Luckily, both avenues are worth exploring. I believe that we have a renaissance on the horizon but for now, in our individualistic society, the focus is to get better however you can.


SUCH: Definitely! And it seems like social media exacerbates that problem because EVERYONE seems angry and mean all the time on it. But that's not true to reality! There are still good people out there, and you always need to read news and opinions online with a grain of salt.


And I COMPLETELY agree with you about shame being the root of so many issues. There is an excellent video series by Tim Fletcher, a recovery specialist from Canada, that helped me so much after my recent hospitalization. Please watch it if you struggle with CPTSD and intense anxiety/depression due to trauma!


Tim Fletcher


So Bo’s special is ostensibly about his quarantine, but the United States never officially locked down in the same manner as other countries. Because of this, many in America (as epitomized in that Slate article you reference) took umbrage with the fact that a millionaire was able to mope in his shed while others had to go to work (particularly healthcare professionals, but also grocery workers and delivery people).


I was wondering if you think Bo’s special might be more poignant/meaningful for those who WERE in a strict lockdown situation? I’d imagine viewers in Europe, for example, used even more digital means of communication (like FaceTime and sexting).

 

Lizard: I am not sure how the lockdown context might impact the reception of Inside. I do my best to speak only from the perspective that I know but that is a great consideration.


I think even within the United States, lockdowns varied for a lot of people. I still know high-risk individuals who are effectively quarantined as of 2023. Additionally, I think other nations that had very strict lockdown protocols might not relate as much because of the difference in socio-political perspective. The advantage is that Bo covered so many different narratives that I think there is something for everyone to connect to, if not the whole special.

 

I mentioned the Slate article briefly in my piece and I want to be fair to all perspectives. However, I think it is important to be clear that art has historically always been elitist, classist, and privileged.


We live in a new era where I can open my browser or social media and see art from people in my income bracket or art from marginalized groups that speak to injustice. However, there has historically been a wide divide between art as social justice and art for the privileged to consume. I think that Bo recreating mental health struggles during COVID and using his platform to draw attention to these issues is a net positive.


SUCH: That's a great point about art being a historically privileged medium. Always something to keep in mind, I'd say!


You have your own Substack where you post your thoughts. Why did you set that up? Do you see it as an outlet for your academic analysis, and what's your favorite item that you've posted? Least favorite? Has there been anything you wrote that you later decided to delete? Why?

 

Lizard: Yes! This is a very new venture for me, actually. I started it because my proximity to academia means that my discussions are scholarly and typically carry a lot of weight of “expertise” which is inherently political.


I found myself having the same conversations about mental health, culture, community, and practical tools for mental health every week. Ultimately, this is a way to put those conversations on paper and make them more accessible to anyone who can benefit.


I figured Substack would be a great place to take off the label of scholar and just talk to the people who need it. It is also a passion project where I can talk about my wild theories without needing a grant to do it.

 

My favorite item that I’ve written is probably my first article called They Can’t Sell You a Conscience. It documents my personal favorite strategy for mental wellness which is values-based decision-making and walks the reader through specific steps that they can do. The way that I outline it is exactly how I would deliver it in a clinical session (or multiple), which feels good to provide without a paywall. Although the title makes it sound like this is a moral issue, I want to be clear that the goal is authentic living, not moral rightness.

 

My least favorite piece is the one I just wrote called Stop Making Serotonin Jokes, which is ironically about the myth of chemical imbalance and how we’ve been misled by professionals. This one is my least favorite because it’s not as gentle as I prefer to be in my writing.


For this piece, I was unusually direct because many many many people have come before me with the same message. Unfortunately, the cultural perceptions of mental health are really hard to change, especially when we have plenty of online discourse (and memes) reinforcing things that have been debunked. So, this piece was as uncomfortable to write as it is to read — but I believe vitally important.

 

I haven’t deleted anything yet, but I do debate deleting them every single night. Okay, not every night, but close.


Unfortunately, writing comes with an inherent vulnerability, even when somewhat private. I constantly worry about being taken in bad faith or out of context and that often drives me to reconsider my work. [Ed. note: Hard same for my website!]


One of my goals has been to focus on individual management of mental health and culture without relying on mental health jargon, calls for systemic overhaul, or costly tools.


Unfortunately, what that leads to is management strategies that seem too simple to work and a discussion that sounds abnormally spiritual. However, I still hope that the accessibility and integrity of my work (along with sources) can help readers have trust in the work that I do and how I intend it to come across. Ultimately, if my strategies or discussions help even one person that I wouldn’t have reached otherwise, it makes the vulnerability worth it.


SUCH: Wow, your efforts to provide clinical expertise for free online perfectly ties into Maria Bamford's memoirs and how she advocates for low-cost or free mental health services. That's really a kind thing you are doing to help those who are financially disadvantaged.


Me with Maria's book and my "Maria Bamford supports me in my journey" t-shirt


While I was in the psych ward, I really came to terms with my preconceived notions of what "crazy" truly means. I remember meeting one woman who couldn't stop shaking and crying about wanting to save everyone in the world. I thought she was WAY too far gone to ever get better and, unfortunately, I dismissed her as hysterical. A few days later, I heard her talking to a nurse after getting her medication adjusted and she was a brand-new person—a totally "normal" woman who was a teacher. I was flabbergasted by her complete transformation, and she and I had some great conversations. She even gave me a hug when I was discharged!


All of that's to say, I have personally witnessed how significant mental health awareness is and how easy it is to dismiss those struggling. Like, it made me rethink how I've treated homeless people in the past. Maybe that "crazy" dude screaming about the end of the world is bipolar and needs help? It's a HUGE problem in our society, and I really commend you for taking a tangible step in the right direction.


Okay, enough heavy topics for now.

 

Can you tell me one fun fact about yourself? Do you have any specific hobbies or interests people don't know about?

 

Lizard: I’m actually a national award winning poet, as well! I’ve been published in two literary magazines this year and was nominated for the Best of the Net anthology. Fingers crossed that I’m one of the selected winners at the start of the year!


In case that fact isn’t all that fun, I also collect a lot of different things. My favorite collections are my pressed pennies and shark’s teeth that I have personally collected.


SUCH: Wow, that is amazing that you are a prize-winning poet! And that you are up for another award this year—good luck on that!


Did you ever read Egghead by Bo? It's one of my favorite poetry books (and the audiobook version is hilarious as well with him narrating and using all kinds of silly voices to read his poems!).



Oh man, I love collecting things too. When I was a kid, I had a collection of over 100 keychains! I was obsessed with them lol.


So what's your favorite Bo song/special? You can name more than one.

 

Lizard: Art is Dead is an absolute classic. A close runner up might be From God’s Perspective. Clearly, the morbidly ironic pieces are the ones that appeal most to me.


SUCH: Both are great choices, but I prefer Oh My God to From God's Perspective. It's just really emotional and angry in a way that resonates with my agnostic self.


My current faves are That Funny Feeling and The Chicken.

 

Do you have any upcoming projects that you are working on?

 

Lizard: Yes! I’ve been drafting a number of articles even though I’ve been trying to slow down. I’m excited about two practical upcoming works.


One will be a piece about potential red flags when choosing a therapist and one will be on boundaries compared to avoidance. A passion project that I’m hoping to get to is an article about the cultural obsession with MiniBrands as a sign of coping with late-stage capitalism. I don’t anticipate much interest in that one, though.


SUCH: Wow, all of those sound really relevant to me, especially the therapist red flags since I just started meeting with a new one.


I also have worked with many national brands at a marketing firm, so the latter passion project of yours sounds fascinating!

 

How can fans of your writing best support you? And do you have any social media that you'd like to plug?

 

Lizard: The most direct way is to subscribe for free to my Substack: Soothsayings.substack.com

 

I’ll hopefully be further developing my infrastructure for writing and communications soon. For now, that is the best way to stay in touch.  


SUCH: That sounds fantastic, and thanks for letting me know Substack is free (I thought it had a paywall)! I've added it to my social media apps now haha.


Well, thanks again for taking the time to chat with me about your essay and the depiction of mental health decline in Inside. Good luck with your writing in all of its forms!


Lizard: Thanks so much!



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