Anthony Atamanuik’s Trump Takes a Psychological Fitness Test on ‘The President Show’

The President Show has already taken us on a tour inside Donald Trump’s terrifying mind, but during last night’s episode they took it a step further when Peter Grosz’s Mike Pence tricks Anthony Atamanuik’s Trump into visiting psychologist Dr. John Gartner, who is also the founder of a group of mental health experts advocating Trump’s […]

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Optimism v pessimism in 2017: the comedian and the psychologist debate

Liam Williams quit standup fearing his pessimism about the state of the planet was making audiences worryingly apathetic. But is a sunny outlook really any healthier? We sat him down for a session with psychotherapist Philippa Perry

One day last year, Liam Williams locked himself out and tried to climb in through his bedroom window. “I’d done it before very skilfully when drunk,” he says, “but this time I was hungover, so I guess I had that reduced inhibition, but not that derring-do – you know, the reckless optimism of a drunkard.” It didn’t end well. “It was only the first storey but I didn’t have any shoes on and it was quite a high window. I fell and broke my heels. It really hurt.”

The comedian is telling this story to psychotherapist Philippa Perry and me as we meet in a London cafe to consider the merits of optimism and pessimism. Is pessimism necessarily bad for you? What health benefits come with being optimistic? Does being optimistic help you in relationships? Does being pessimistic make you pragmatic about a prospective lover’s shortcomings? If you’re as bleakly pessimistic as Eeyore, can you change? If you’re as misguidedly optimistic as Mr Micawber, can you get a firmer grip on reality? More troublingly, what looks like pessimism to one can seem like optimism to another. Consider Williams’s attempted break-in. Perry suggests that his climb was optimistic. Liam worries it was doomed by pessimism. “It comes under the heading of risk-taking,” says Perry. “Optimists are more likely to take risks – they think they can drive into that gap in traffic or climb through windows.” She pauses before adding: “That’s not necessarily a good thing.”

Related: Liam Williams five-star review – a shatteringly funny set: Edinburgh festival 2014

Related: Troubled times make it hard to be an optimist. But I don’t plan to stop | Mary Elizabeth Williams

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