Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation. CultureShift airs weekdays 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on 101.9- Detroit Public Radio.
Trigger Warning wasn’t the first title that comedian Sam Rager wanted for her debut comedy album.
She imagined something longer — Trigger Warning* (but for real you might want to skip tracks 20, 24 and 25).
“Those tracks talk a lot about mental health and I didn’t want that to be potentially triggering for someone,” says Rager. “My therapist let me know that that is actually a stigma against other people with mental health (issues) is that talking about it could trigger theirs. I was like, ‘OK, so I’ll not fight the title change anymore and I’ll just leave it at Trigger Warning.‘”
Throughout Trigger Warning, Rager weaves impactful storytelling with glimpses into her own struggles with mental health and self-harm. It’s a style of comedy that’s confessional and honest, offering the audience a glimpse into Rager’s life instead of turning someone else into the butt of the joke.
“In high school, I was a big fan of theater but I never wanted to be the lead — I always wanted to be the character that was supposed to be the comedic relief,” says Rager. “I always felt a sense of victory whenever I was hanging out with people and I could get them to laugh.”
After attending a stand-up comedy class at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle about seven years ago, Rager started performing regularly as part of Detroit’s DIY comedy scene. She’s a fixture today with regular feature and headlining spots around town.
“You can go to an open mic and you can see at least one or two other comics making fun of people and punching down at certain groups in their jokes whether it be because their appearance, their beliefs,” says Rager. “In my own way, me being able to write a joke in retaliation to that because I can normally relate to the groups that their punching down at … that feels like a victory.”
Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation with comedian Sam Rager. You can see her perform live at Planet Ant in Hamtramck on Friday, February 8th; Cellarmen’s in Hazel Park on Wednesday, February 13th; and at the Clinton Twelve restaurant on Saturday, March 30th.