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Self-Reg in a Stand-up Special

For me watching recorded stand-up comedy specials has always been regulating.  It is an amazing balance of getting to be a fly on the wall at a large social event and hopefully an excuse for some big laughs to reduce stress and increase my energy. 

This year during SRSS 2020 I found a stand up special on Netflix that could be broken down as a self-reg case study from start to finish.  “Douglas” by Hannah Gadsby, who refers to it as her special about autism, is a perfect example of someone sharing their experience (hilariously) and using the best language she has to describe foundational self-reg concepts without knowing it. 

Warning - in the special she swears a lot or uses language that isn’t family friendly, so if that might be off-putting then the special isn’t for you.


In 72 minutes she manages to include:

- A 14 minute "prologue" to reframe and reduce stress by “setting the audiences expectations”


- Co-regulation of the audience - when to invest, but not get upset, or how to not take personally jokes that may not be your favourite

- Recognizing her own limbic triggers

- Reflection on interbrain miscommunications

- Her respond approach, the response she has elicited and how her experience has informed her response

- Comments on stress, startle responses, and tension

- An example of stress behaviour mislabelled as misbehaviour and the cost

- I’d argue a case study in limbic contagion and also a profound reframe of neurodiversity

As an educator it has also left me with some reflections on my own practice and trying to recognize the value and place of the “funny zips” that so many of us have. 

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