Cleveland Comedian Mary Santora quit booze in 2019 after two previous attempts didn’t stick. The comedian recalls leaning into the life of the funny party person, bragging to friends about crashing six cars or using Cleveland’s craft beer culture as a guise for alcoholism.
“Deep down, you know that something is wrong,” Santora says. “So you try to justify it any way that you can.”
After a full departure from alcohol, the comic brags of things like her first comedy album, Hillbilly Boujee, which reached the number one spot on iTunes and fifth on the Billboard comedy chart following its release in 2021.
Addiction and Comedy
For many comedians, stand-up and drinking need each other. Santora often took her first drink of the night with her on stage, and gig payment frequently came in the form of a free bar tab. But, it was her performance that benefited most from tossing the sauce aside. “I was stuck in this rut, where I wasn’t progressing," she says. "Compared to where I was, I’m in such a better place — as a comic, as a writer.”
Staying the Course
Despite the positive effect on Santora’s career, she needed a way to resist old habits. “Drinking and comedy do not go together,” she cautions. “They will ruin your career." She motivates herself by comparing times when she heckled other comics performing at Hilarities 4th Street Theatre to the positive friendships she has developed now. Other tricks include holding a soda water with lime at parties to mimic a drink: sobriety, incognito.
Filling the Free Time
Getting sober meant finding new ways to stave off boredom — not unlike the sourdough bread we all learned to make during the pandemic. Santora sounds exasperated recalling the amount of time she truly spent drinking, the difficulty in replacing it with something constructive. “In the last couple years, I’ve been trying to find my non-destructive habit,” she says. “I do love reading — that is one of the things where I never [did it] before.” Having the space in a day to slow down and read, as opposed to mapping out the cheapest bar crawls, came as a blessing.
Click here for recovery advice from an advocate and a list of regional resources.