Amplify Podcast

Episode 21: Purpose through Tragedy, Comedy through Life With Adam Cayton-Holland

Amplify Podcast

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I'm Emily — a resourceful mom but, if I'm being honest, a terrible prepper. It wasn't until I realized that...

Meet Emily

On today’s episode of The AMPLIFY Show, I chat with Adam Cayton-Holland, a nationally touring comedian and the author of Tragedy Plus Time: A Tragi-comic Memoir. 

I saw Adam’s live show during Laughfest, a comedy festival that is held annually in Grand Rapids to raise money for Gilda’s Club (a wonderful organization that helps people dealing with grief and cancer). It was my last “normal” outing with the HAPPY PR team before we switched to remote because of COVID-19. 

As expected, the show was very impactful. It was a comedy yet Adam addresses really heavy topics, like the loss of his little sister to suicide. I was in awe at how he walked that line of funny and tragic so gracefully. He had the audience crying at some moments, then causing a big burst of laughter through the tears the next. It is really something to experience!

I was surprised to hear about his experiences with therapy and how, like me, he found some relief and help with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a form of treatment designed to alleviate the trauma.

We talk about our experiences with EMDR, our personal losses, and finding ways to be productive and find purpose after tragedy.

Adam Cayton-Holland has appeared on Conan, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Comedy Central Presents, and he was named one of “10 Comics to Watch” by Variety. 


“This is not clean, this is not pretty, there’s no happy ending… You’re always gonna be damaged, but the trick is to let the beauty of life outweigh that.” -Adam Cayton-Holland


Topics discussed on this episode of The AMPLIFY Show:

  • [3:20] Adam’s background, losing his sister
  • [5:00] Starting to cope with and write about loss
  • [7:40] Mourning and processing while writing his book
  • [9:00] Feeling free enough to “take a swing and miss” 
  • [10:00] Everyone has loss in their life; vulnerability connects people
  • [11:30] Terrible therapy experiences
  • [12:50] Trying EMDR Therapy
  • [16:00] “Am I not mourning this properly anymore?”
  • [17:15] Dealing with trauma-induced triggers 
  • [21:00] Adam’s advice for dealing with grief and trauma


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