When Grief and Comedy Collide: A Conversation with Steve Hofstetter

interviews Sep 10, 2023

Grieve Leave founder, Rebecca Feinglos, recently sat down for a conversation with renowned comedian, Steve Hofstetter, who has had two top 20 comedy albums on Apple and almost 200 million views on Youtube. Their wide-ranging discussion provided insights into Steve's experiences with grief after losing his father seven years ago, and its connection to his comedy career.

To watch the complete conversation, see the interview above. Continue reading below for three takeaways from Steve's insights.

On Humor & Grief:

“I think you develop humor as a defense mechanism. You develop humor as armor. But then, once you have that armor, you can use it for whatever you want.”

Finding the funny side of things is one way we get through the darkest of times. But eventually, as Steve shared,  we can choose to use humor for more than just survival - we can use it to connect with others, too. 


On the “Both-ness” of Grief:


"Joy and grief are not far apart. They aren't conflicting emotions. They are emotions that work in concert with each other."

Steve mentions in the interview that in his new special, you can find people crying one second and laughing the next — showing us how close the two emotions can be. We often view joy and grief as opposing emotions, as if experiencing one means we cannot share the other. In reality, joy and grief are not binaries — they can and do coexist.


There is ambiguity and fluidity to grief and grieving, the pain, beauty, and love that all ride shotgun with it. It’s this both-ness of the world that runs concurrently with a sense of loss.


On Divorce Grief:

"In divorce, many people think that they're grieving the loss of the relationship. I think that you're grieving what you thought the relationship would have been. And it's the same kind of thing. Like, someone estranged from a parent when that parent dies, you're grieving them, but you're mainly grieving what they should have been. That's a different type of grief."

Steve highlighted an example of non-death grief as he and Rebecca discussed divorce. He described that we grieve the loss of a better future with that person. This grief for the potential requires us to mourn something that never actually was. But in time, we can make space for this grief and honor it — the loss of what might have been still matters.


Our conversation with Steve reminds us that the grieving process can look different than our common perception of grief. Steve models that men can be emotionally vulnerable and that humor can coexist with grief. Whether grief unexpectedly resurfaces years later or a loss fundamentally alters your art, take time to pause and feel. There is no set timeline or single way to grieve. By sharing his story, Steve gave us the gift of knowing we are not alone in the turbulent waters of grief- and that there’s still room to laugh about it. 


You can learn more about Steve and the Martin Foundation on his website and Instagram.

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