Biniam Bizuneh moved from Indiana to Los Angeles six years ago to pursue comedy. Since then he’s made a good go of it, most recently as a staff writer on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and after that, making his televised stand-up debut on the Viceland show Flophouse. Right now he’s writing and starring in the Comedy Central digital series How to Be Broke and making hilarious videos like the one about “Demitrinox … an antidepressant for black folk.”
“The inception of this video actually came from me going through a bout of depression myself,” Bizuneh tells The Root. “I’d been depressed for a relatively long time (nine or 10 months) before seeking treatment. After I got better, I was looking back, trying to figure out why it had taken me so long to, first, admit it was depression and, second, seek treatment. Doing that, I realized that when I was growing up, I hadn’t seen anyone that looked like me talk about having depression, either in my family or popular media. I thought maybe that was why it took me so long to even consider that as a possibility for myself.”
Bizuneh says that he used his depression as fodder for his stand-up.
“In the bit, I say that ‘I can’t wait till they make an antidepressant commercial for us: a commercial for black people, written by white people,’ and then I act out a truncated version of the commercial. After doing that bit around for a while, people kept telling me, ‘You should make that as a sketch,’ and I agreed with them.”
He says that a few executives at Comedy Central who knew him from stand-up saw his web series Lie Guys and brought him in for a general meeting in 2015.
“I knew the door was still open if I had an idea, so I set it up and pitched them the idea for the sketch. I heard back a couple weeks later that they wanted to do it. They set me up with this amazing director, Mike Bernstein (former SNL director), who made it look amazing and let me cast friends in a lot of the roles. I couldn’t be happier with the process.”