TIME: Why did you want to do a one-woman show, anyway?
First, I need to get something established immediately. I'm the craziest of all the people I talk about in the show and in no way a victim of anyone I'm discussing. Now, I had been giving speeches for a long time, and I'll try anything usually they're things that are very bad for me. To both my horror and amusement I'm the poster girl for mental illness. So I had been going out and giving speeches about that for years. There was a lot of material that I was doing anyway, so now I do it in the show.
How does it feel to be up there alone on stage for almost two hours?
In the beginning my shoes were uncomfortable and I was terrified by that. I'm short and should have made peace with high heels long ago. But I have been through far more terrifying things in my life than a one-woman show, and it doesn't really compare to them. What's it like? It ain't comfortable, but it is getting more comfortable. I have a teleprompter not that I need it because after all it is my life and I can remember most of it but I like having it as a security blanket.
In the show, you talk a lot about your relationship or lack of it with your Dad, which must have been disappointing.
A little disappointing. But if I complain about anything in my life coming from the background I came from, it comes under the heading "high-class problems of poor little rich girl." Most little girls have dads who work. I saw my father maybe once a year, and so my joke was that I saw him more on TV than at home.
How is your father these days?
My father can't get out of bed right now. He says it's because he never exercised. Then he says to me, "I wish sex was exercise." He can't stop with the topic of sex. He's 78 and he's still talking about it.
Doesn't it make you uncomfortable to talk about your struggle with mental illness?
There was a part of me that thought that since the one area I know about is mental illness, having been in a mental hospital allows me to be a tour guide to a place very few people have gone. For this show, I was tempted to do material on that entirely, but that's a different show. Seriously, a part of me believes that it's good to take things that aren't funny and make light of them. If you don't they become deadly and horrible. Everything I went through became funny when I made them funny. That's been my job for myself.
So the secret to your survival is...
Humor. Thankfully I have a brain that can feed things back to me as funny. When things have happened to me, they are not funny in the beginning. That's when I suffer. But you have to have a sense of humor. And you have to take responsibility for everything and learn to ask for help, which I never knew before.
You act and write. Which do you prefer doing?
Writing. I never really wanted to be an actor because I grew up watching my mother's career decline. Why would I have any illusions about the glamour of Hollywood or wanting to be a star? What I knew early on is that it all goes away. I grew up watching endings. Acting was never as enjoyable to me as it is to someone who hasn't seen it before.
What are you writing now?
A TV series for John Wells' (executive producer of E.R., The West Wing) company. It's about two girls trying to marry rich men and the boy who lives across the hall from them. He's gay and trying to do the same thing.
What does your daughter think of Wishful Drinking?
She likes it. But what's funny is that when I talk about how my daughter laughs about my manic depression, the audience claps. They're glad she's okay.