Chris Sherlock and I met during a radio interview in Ireland while I was making the rounds for a book launch. Chris is celebrating six years on Galway's alternative station, Flirt FM. The station has been a vibrant part of the Irish music scene for 25 years now. But when Chris came on with his then "Midweek Show," he brought a new level of consistent interviews with Irish creatives, including musical talent, authors, mental health experts, mentalists, entertainers, mediums, and psychics. And though today you may see Chris as a successful comedian and radio show host with a fan base that stretches around the world, what you can't see is the pain Chris endured as a teen thanks to bullying.
October is National Bullying Prevention and Awareness month. It also happens to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2020. For the first time, Chris shared his story in a book chapter for Mental Health for Millennials; the fourth volume features Chris's first-hand experience with bullies and will be available next month.
Chris opened up to me about how bullying shaped his life and career in a series of conversations over the last year. What strikes me most about Chris, besides his killer-wit, is his professionalism. Not one to back down from a challenge, Chris engages with a wide variety of talent. An artist doesn't have to be signed by a label to get Chris's attention either. It's a point of pride for Chris--helping folks get noticed--and something he's continuing to do through radio and other media.That's one of the silver linings from Chris's bullying experience:
A deep recognition that no one is invisible....
It began at about age 13. Chris had started the equivalent of secondary school. A tall, lanky kid, Chris was shy and unassuming--though today you'd never know it: His sharp-witted sense of humour catches your funny bone at just the right angle. But at 13, Chris was yet to come into his own. That's part of what makes his story so compelling.
All Chris was doing was heading to class. That was it. He did nothing to deserve what came next. He didn't even know the kids who were involved. But that didn't matter. Nothing seemed to. Especially after the bullying started to escalate.
Chris's story has a happy ending--one you can read more about in his debut chapter next month. But not everyone is so lucky. Though, I wouldn't exactly call surviving what Chris endured "lucky"--it took a lot of hard work and perseverance to rise above the fray. That's something you don't hear enough about.
Teen suicide rates are rising exponentially around the globe. In 2019, Time magazine reported a 33% increase in suicide over the last 20 years. That's why Chris decided to finally share his story. If he could even save one life by opening up about his experience, it would be worth the pain of remembering.
On Monday, 28 September 2020, Flirt FM is celebrating their 25th anniversary. And in typical Chris Sherlock style, "CSI: The Chris Sherlock Show" will be featuring personal congrats from some of the most popular musical groups in Ireland, along with a host of entertainers, authors...even the President of Ireland! That's right, folks--when Chris Sherlock calls, world leaders pick up. So please tune in to listen to Chris on the 28th, and every Wednesday on Flirt FM Galway. You can find an archive of Chris's shows on Mixcloud below:
Chris Sherlock is one of the most genuine people you'll ever meet. Whenever I come to Ireland, he makes time to ferry me about the island. That's not something he has to do. He didn't have to take off his jacket last October and put it on a cold, wet rock either (so I could safely sit down and take a picture of the roaring Irish Sea), but he did. He didn't have to drive out to visit me when an accident led to multiple broken bones last June, but he did. And, he doesn't have to make time to check in during the pandemic, but he still does.
When I was on tour with Comic Con, I worked with mega-stars. It was my job to sit down and interview them live on stage. I've rubbed elbows with Hollywood icons, Emmy Award winners, and everyone in between. The one quality truly great talents all share is a sense of authenticity. Chris Sherlock has that, just like Jason Momoa, Ernie Hudson, Chris Hemsworth, Cassandra Peterson, Maggie Q, Sean Astin, and of course, people like the late, great Ron Glass and Stan "The Man" Lee.
As Chris pointed out during our interviews, bullying isn't just something that happens to teens--it happens in the adult world as well. Staying positive and helping others to do the same is the best any of us can do. So, do it! And, find a good therapist, life coach or hypnotherapist to talk to on a regular basis. You don't have to live with pain. And, even if it feels like it, you're never alone.
Chris's message to the bullies of this world:
"Stop and take a look at your own life. Do you really want to make people feel bad? Ask yourself why that is. You might have a few minutes of fun, but what are really getting out of bullying? There's something you could be doing with that time to make your own life better instead of spreading hate. Whether it's against the LGBT community, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism...you're not doing yourself any favours. Reach out for help. I get it. I was ashamed that I needed help, but asking for it changed my life. For the better. It can change yours, too."
There you have it, folks--a true phoenix rising! Keep an eye on Chris--I see shades of comedians like Johnny Carson, Jimmy Fallon and Graham Norton in that one. Chris is also a big supporter of causes for children, those with disabilities, and the aging population. In fact, he would have been performing his comedy act in Boston this fall to benefit the nonprofit, SMILE MASS. Sadly, COVID-19 changed everyone's plans. Not to worry! You can still catch Chris live on the air every week.
When you don't let bullies hold you down or back, you can (and will!) achieve your dreams--you just have to keep moving forward!
Progress is still progress no matter the pace...
Slow and steady always wins the race!
*photo credit Justin Murray 2020