Sears’ Catalog: Satire About Self-Help and Spirituality

By Steven Libowitz   |   May 9, 2019
Comedian and emotional healing coach JP Sears takes the stage at the Lobero on Saturday, May 11

There are a lot of paths to a career in comedy, but working as a life and emotional coach has to be one of the weirdest. JP Sears wouldn’t dispute that contention. In fact, his own life – which includes a decade and a half in the self-help industry working with individual clients – serves as the jumping off point, if not actual fodder, for his performances, which have recently expanded beyond YouTube videos (where he counts views in the hundreds of millions) to stand-up gigs, including a show at the Lobero on Saturday, May 11.

“What drove me to do emotional healing and work in the first place was because I needed it myself,” Sears said over the phone recently. “I’d set up all this armor to protect myself, and once I did some of my personal work, I knew I could help others.”

But then he realized he was still holding back, hiding his lifelong penchant for humor in favor of serious “spiritual” work.

“I didn’t let it out for fifteen years. The story I told myself is that it would be bad for business and discredit me as a coach or a spiritual guy. Sincere coaches and teachers are not funny. But my humor has always been a huge part of my personality.”

At first, Sears let his funny side out in drips and drabs, making serious self-help videos while also skewering the industry with satirical segments. But two years ago, he took the plunge into performing on stage, and hasn’t looked back yet, although he still uses YouTube to post short videos with his hilarious satire. Self-help still informs the backbone of his set, and people – including Sears himself – still get a lot out of his words, even if they’re meant to provoke more laughter than learning.

“Improvising on stage is my favorite part,” he said. “I have material but the beauty of live comedy is that it’s created between me and the audience. I’m the one doing all the talking, but it’s a very connective experience. I let the moment bring magic up.”

Comedy at Carrillo 

Flip Schultz, who has recorded seven comedy CDs, and performed with over five improv troupes, at popular comedy clubs and major festivals as well as on TV and in movies, headlines the monthly second Friday stand-up show at the Carrillo Recreation Center on May 10. Also on the bill are Laura Hayden – who works as a physical therapist and inspirational speaker and as a touring comedian – and series founder Jason Love. Admission to the 8 pm show is $15.

Power, Passion, and Purpose

Powerhouse indie rockers Florence + the Machine, whose popularity continues to rise annually since debuting in 2009 culminating in a U.S. No. 1 with 2015’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, return to town for two dates at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sunday and Monday, May 12-13, on the heels of their fourth album, High as Hope. The record marked a shift for lead singer-songwriter Florence Welch, who, All Music Guide said, “digs deep, meditating on the highs used to fill the holes in our souls, be it drugs, alcohol, reckless love, or spirituality. Over the course of this concise and cohesive journey, she discovers life is about learning to live in the space between the extremes, embracing the normalcy of that middle ground between passionate highs and empty lows.”

Mary Fahl, an even bigger voiced singer-songwriter who first came to fame in the mid-1990s as lead singer of the folk-chamber pop group October Project, who became one-hit wonders via the emotionally compelling if somewhat enigmatic “Bury My Lovely.” Fahl, who has released several solo albums in the interim, returns to SOhO on May 11.

The inCourage Chorus – the non-audition, non-denominational, all-ages community choir led by “song carriers” Benjamin Gould and Britta Gudmunson who bring songs from around the world spanning culture, tradition, and language in weekly gatherings at Yoga Soup – has scheduled a pair of concerts to wrap up its current season. Smack in the middle of Spring, “The Way is Clear,” which features a collection of songs celebrating the four elements, will be performed at 7 pm Friday, May 10, at Unity of Santa Barbara, and at 2 pm Saturday, May 11, at Ojai Valley Community Church. 


You might also be interested in...