Comedian John Poveromo Helps Audiences Feel with Felt Puppets in ‘Duppet’

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Published April 13, 2020
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The Montclarion
"Duppet" is a comedic short film that teaches communication is key in dealing with anxiety and depression. Photo courtesy of @johnpoveromo | Instagram

As children, the Muppets taught their audience innocent songs and how to learn their ABCs. “Duppet” continues the puppet’s tradition of teaching, now for an adult audience, that you aren’t alone in your struggles. New Jersey comedian John Poveromo wrote and acted in “Duppet” and shared inside information of what his short film really means.

Poveromo got into comedy when he was in middle school, but did not start stand-up until after high school.

“I first went to college for about a year-and-a-half and then dropped out because I wanted to do stand-up,” Poveromo said. “I had taken a comedy class in the city, believe it or not, because I didn’t know how to get started. I didn’t know anything about open mics and stuff.”

Poveromo ended up taking a comedy class on Broadway in New York City. There, he was able to work on his material and perfect it for his first ever stand-up routine at Caroline’s Comedy Club 16 years ago.

Apart from his comedy career, Poveromo made a short film for Amazon in 2019. The movie is called “Duppet,” which follows John, a man with depression and anxiety, as he goes about his day. His duppet, or depression puppet, joins him.

A duppet is the physical manifestation of a character’s depression and anxiety. John isn’t the only character with a duppet, which helps reel in the film’s central message about everyone having their own personal problems too.

Poveromo came up with the idea for “Duppet” when he was joking around with his friend.

John Poveromo, comedian, wrote and starred in "Duppet." Photo courtesy of John Poveromo.

John Poveromo, comedian, wrote and starred in “Duppet.”
Photo courtesy of John Poveromo

“My roommate and I, my best friend, we lived together for a while and both dealt with depression in our own way,” Poveromo said. “We were just talking one day and I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be hilarious if like your depression manifested itself into a guy, just a shitty roommate that had to be with you all the time, good days, bad days, always hanging around?'”

Poveromo took this idea to his writing partner and “Duppet” was born. Although the character has the same name, Poveromo also based John on the experiences of others. The wide range of experiences portrayed helps make “Duppet” relatable to its audience.

The movie was made even more relatable through the use of a puppet.

“I think using a puppet is a great way to talk about that kind of depression because you can get away with so much,” Poveromo said. “I just kept getting messages from people telling me about ‘Duppet’ and about how theirs was different and what theirs is. I think it opens up a great way to talk about how you’re feeling and what you’re dealing with.”

The responses that Poveromo received showed that the film had hit home for many people.

“Part of dealing with depression is being able to recognize it and communicate about it and what you’re going through and also recognize that you are not alone,” Poveromo said.

The humor in “Duppet,” as well as the message it portrays, aligns perfectly for an audience of college students.

“You’re [college students] struggling to find out who you are, you’re trying to balance out your social life, your future, your schoolwork [and] your parents,” Poveromo said. “[You’re] finally getting out on your own for the first time. It’s a lot to kind of handle and I think again the whole central theme is that once you understand everyone kind of goes through this stuff too, you can open up to your friends.”

Part of what makes “Duppet” effective in reaching the audience is its comedy. There are many times throughout the movie where the audience actually has to press pause to let out their laughter. Comedy, according to Poveromo, is a great way to cope with anxiety and depression.

“I think you’ll find [that] the central theme is you’re not alone and [that] comedy is a great way to connect with people,” Poveromo said. “It’s a great way to show that you’re not the only one experiencing these things and [that] these things don’t have to be taken as seriously.”

“Duppet” is so influential because people already use comedy as coping mechanisms daily, be it with memes, or just joking around with friends after a hard day. “Duppet” helps its audience not only by providing them with a few laughs, but by showing people the benefits of communication in coping.

The makers behind “Duppet” are just as passionate about sharing this message as the film is itself.

“I hope they [the audience] know that it comes from a place of empathy and understanding exactly what it’s like to feel like that,” Poveromo said. “I hope they can relate to it in their own ways and I hope it makes them feel better at the end of the day after watching it.”

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