The viral video star on motherhood, addiction, and her new book
If you’re in need of a laugh, look no further than Laura Clery. With millions of followers on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, Laura posts hilarious videos about the messy reality of motherhood and marriage, as well as comedy sketches about exercise and avocado toast. But Laura’s own story isn’t all fun and games. In her new memoir, Idiot, Laura opens up about her struggle with addiction—and how she got to the other side.
We chatted with Laura about Idiot, personal growth, and why she’s working to normalize breastfeeding.
Katie Couric: Your book has such a memorable title, “Idiot.” What does the word mean to you?
Laura Clery: I’m obsessed with any and all things funny. First of all, I just think it’s a funny word, and it makes me laugh. Also, on a deeper meaning, I’ve made a lot of idiotic decisions in my past. I talk a lot about those stories in my book.
Your book details your own journey through addiction. What motivated you to get help?
For me, “rock bottom” wasn’t totally external. I wasn’t on the street, I wasn’t homeless. I was still in my apartment. I was still managing to book jobs. In fact, I wasn’t even drinking or using everyday — that’s a huge misconception. When people think of alcoholics or drug addicts, they think, “Oh you’re waking up in the morning and taking shots or whatever.” There’s different types. I was a binge drinker. I would go weeks without. But when I would drink, it would release the phenomenon of craving and obsession, and I had no control.
I knew I had a lot to give, and I knew that I could never reach my potential until I put down drugs and alcohol. So it was very much that. When people are not living their purpose, they’re often depressed or anxious. I was depressed, I didn’t care if I woke up the next day. But I wanted to be happy. I knew I had to put down drugs and alcohol, and start walking through my fears, to achieve my goals.
Why did it feel important to share your story?
There are so many people struggling with addiction. There’s a lot of shame around it, and a lot of people don’t think there’s a way out. It was important to me to tell the story because I want people to know that if they’re in a place that’s unfulfilling — whether it’s work or relationships or whatever it is — that there is a way out. You can walk through that, and you can create a life beyond your wildest dreams of what is possible.
What quick advice would you give someone who is trying to escape this unfulfilling cycle?
Personally, I needed to have complete abstinence with alcohol and drugs, because I can’t do it recreationally. I can’t do it responsibly. Once I take a drug or a drink, it’s very hard for me to stop. I get dangerously impulsive, and it gets in the way of living a happy, healthy life.
For an alcoholic or addict, I would say the first step is to put down the substance they’re using. More generally, to live a more fulfilling life, a huge thing is mindset.
I grew up with no money, so I always thought, “Okay, life is a struggle. It’s always going to be hard, and there’s never going to be enough.” I would say, “Laura, all you need to do is book enough work to eat and pay rent.” I was always in survival mode. So I started looking into just changing my mindset, and deciding to have a more positive outlook. I got really big into affirmations. Every single morning, I’ll wake up and make a gratitude list. I’ll take a walk and think about all the things I’m grateful for. After that, I’ll visualize goals I want to achieve, whether they’re personal, work-related or philanthropic, and I decide to focus on what I do want, rather than what I don’t want.
We really like your brand of comedy. Has what you’ve gone through inspired your sketches?
Some of my characters are absolutely inspired by real life situations — you’ve probably heard the quote “Tragedy + Time = Comedy.” It’s so, so true. But once I changed my mindset and I started to get happier and clearer, I found that I was funnier. It’s nearly impossible to create comedy when you’re in a dark, depressed place.
Speaking of your purpose, let’s talk business! What should people trying to break into online content focus on?
Being authentic. Figure out what it is you love to do and what you feel your purpose is, and find a way to do that everyday. I think it’s absolutely the best time to be a content creator. We have global distribution at our fingertips. So there’s no one stopping you — but you.
When I was just starting to create content, I said, “Oh, I’m scared, I’m scared! No one’s going to watch what I do, or everyone’s going to hate what I have to say, or even moreso, not going to care.” I was petrified and crippled from fear. It was stopping me from starting. My friend finally said to me, “Laura, you’re an artist, so make art. Stay in the action and out of the results!” So I lived by that. I would create everyday and post it online, and three people would watch: my mom, my husband and me. But because I chose to stay in the action and not the results, I would just do it, do it, do it. The more you give, the more you get.
You touch a lot on motherhood in your videos. What aspects resonate the most with viewers?
People like to see the messy reality of motherhood. I was just shooting a sketch five minutes before you called that was about breastfeeding mom life. We were at the park. I was breastfeeding my son and just spitting out random comments to people. There’s so much funny stuff about breastfeeding and pumping.
In one of the scenes, I was pumping and havING an argument with my husband. He couldn’t stop laughing because it does look so funny with the cones on your breasts. It’s also funny when you’re in public and forgot your nursing bras, and you’re leaking through your shirt and you realize it at the store. Or you’re walking out on the street to get your mail and realize that you have one tit out — because that’s happened to me.
Why is it important for you to normalize breastfeeding?
You’re feeding your young. It’s the most natural thing you could possibly do. We want to keep our babies alive, and we shouldn’t feel judged for feeding our babies. I truly didn’t understand it was an issue until I became a mom and started posting about it. I would even have women say, “Cover up. That’s disgusting.” But I get so many comments that are like, “Because of your posts, I have confidence to feed in public.”
What’s next for you?
I have no f*&#ing idea. People always ask: What is the end goal? For me, it’s to make as many people laugh as possible on a consistent basis, and make a great living doing it. Right now, I’m at 7.4 million followers on Facebook. Continuing to make as many people giggle, smile and laugh brings me the most joy.
There might be a live tour coming. I am really nervous to go live, but I feel that I need to walk through that fear. There will probably also be another book. I really am interested in writing about pregnancy, parenthood and all of that.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
This originally appeared on Medium.com
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