Ask Hank Green to tell you how people get cancer, and he’ll tell you about ants.

The video creator, science teacher, and novelist will explain how to do it Ant colonies communicate through pheromonesAnd how they are designed to pass genetic material not to the next generation of ants, but to the next generation of ants Colony. But what if one ant—call her Trent, Green suggests—became an individualist and decided to focus only on self-propagation, rather than improving the whole? Trent and his offspring would then hijack many of the other ants’ pheromone communication systems, gain more resources from the rest of the ants, and reproduce fruitfully. At some point, the colony simply won’t be able to support the ever-reproducing Trent Streams. The entire system will collapse.

Now imagine that the Trents and the ants are human cells, and you get cancer, Green explains.

The ants comparison is Hank Green’s description of cancer, which means it’s educational, funny, and delivered in a rapid-fire clip that excites him and enhances ours. It’s also one of the most memorable clips from Green’s first-ever stand-up special, Urinating outside cancer.

In May 2023, Green was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. While overcoming his illness and undergoing chemotherapy, he decided to write a stand-up presentation about the experience. “And I’ll see if I’m good at it,” he says in a Behind the scenes video About private.

“There were times that were actually funny,” Green told Mashable about finding humor in his cancer journey. One moment comes to mind from his first day of chemotherapy, when Green’s nurse told him, very tactfully, that “for the next few days, nothing that comes out of you shouldn’t spread to anyone else.”

“When it happened, I said, ‘Oh no, I have to do stand-up!’ Green laughed. “The story is very good.”

Hank Green performs stand-up on stage in front of a blackboard covered with anatomical drawings of ants.

Hank Green performs “Pissing Out Cancer”.
Credit: The Dropout

Green recruited Missoula-based comedian Sarah Aswell to be his coach, and over the course of eight weeks (including weekly shows), he went from 10 minutes of material to 70 minutes. During this time, he sent footage of his work to comedians for honesty. comment. Among them was Sam Reich, CEO of the streaming service Dropout, which produces series such as… Game changer And Dimension 20. (Green himself played the title role Dimension 20: Mentopolis.) Reich responded and asked if Green would consider making it Urinating outside cancer Special complete with leakage. Now, off you go Dropout giftsa series of seven comedy specials — ranging from one-offs to unscripted specials — that will be released on Dropout in 2024.

Green was initially “nervous” about the prospect of opening Dropout gifts. “Dropout’s first comedy special is from a guy who’s not a comedian, he’s a TikTokker and YouTuber,” he said. “I don’t want people to feel like I’m cutting in line.”

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“I implored Hank by saying, ‘If you start this, it’s going to give a lot of attention to people with smaller followings,'” Reich told Mashable in a joint interview with Green. “Appeal to his sense of altruism is the way to Hank’s heart. That’s the way to get him to do anything.”

Another aspect of working with Dropout that appealed to Green was the opportunity to openly share his cancer journey with a much larger audience. “For the chance to [produce Pissing Out Cancer] “In a way that sounds a lot better than if I had done it myself, it would be better for the material,” he said. “If I was just doing stand-up, that would be one thing. But I actually want to pull the big dark veil off cancer and say, ‘It might not be what you imagine it is.’ It might be worse, it might be better, but you don’t have your perception of cancer and its treatment.” “Stuck in 1995.”

Green’s candor about his experience was something that attracted Reich from the first snapshots Green sent him. “I imagine a lot of people can relate to them [the material]“Unfortunately, not only do a lot of people get cancer, a lot of people are very close to people who have cancer,” Reich said.

Hank Green performs stand-up on stage in front of a blackboard covered with diagrams of the human body and cell.

Hank Green performs “Pissing Out Cancer”.
Credit: The Dropout

Reich also responded to Green’s delivery, which he found particularly impressive given how recently Green has begun performing stand-up. “It’s easy to compare stand-ups with other stand-ups. Hank is pretty much the same,” Reich said. “But he also has this combination of something that feels very personal, in the same way that Mike Birbiglia does, with something that feels very anecdotal and all around the way that Eddie Izzard is, who I also adore.”

“You’ve put your finger on two of my favorite comedians!” Green added. “Eddie Izzard was my introduction to comedy, and I’m obviously very inspired by Mike.”

Green cites Taylor Tomlinson and Josh Johnson as other inspirations, along with other groups as the comedian grapples with cancer. He thinks Nimesh Patel Lucky leftistabout Patel’s testicular cancer diagnosis, or Tig Notaro He livesWhich she did four days after she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

One of Green’s biggest touchstones was… John Mulaney baby cAbout Mulaney’s struggle with addiction and his experience in rehab. “The special was all about rehabilitation, and I thought, ‘Oh, you could do a special that’s one story,'” Green said. “That’s been very liberating for me as a person. Doing comedy as a story is, in a way, easier because you have a beginning and a middle and an end, and you don’t have to put the pieces together in more nonsense ways to [Baby J] He was one of [specials] I watched it well when I started to feel comfortable with the idea that I might do this. It was a signal that “the way you want to do it is okay.” “This is something that can be done.”

Throughout all the laughs, Green never shied away from the hard truths about his cancer journey.

while Urinating outside cancer It follows the arc of Greene’s cancer journey — which literally begins with the line “So I got cancer” — and isn’t without its fair share of diversions. Green weaves the ant-cancer comparison into a conversation with his doctor. Elsewhere, he finds time to give us a crash course in how hair grows. In a notable clip, he takes us into a fever dream involving the assassination of the Baltimore Orioles. “I went through all the baseball teams, and they were the funniest names,” he explained.

Throughout all the laughs, Green never shied away from the hard truths about his cancer journey. From navigating the hell that is the American health care system to the physical toll of cancer and chemotherapy, this is a private matter that can get heavy. However, there is hope in it too, as Green talks about how wonderful and miraculous life is shortly after talking about its many dangers and pains.

“Illness is a part of life. Death is a part of life. Cancer is a part of life. It’s not going away,” Green said. “There was a time when almost all cancers ended the same way, and that wasn’t the case that long ago, but that’s not the case anymore. The majority of people who get cancer will die of something else now.” [And with the special] We pull back the curtain a little bit and say, “It’s OK to shine some light on this thing.”

“I think the biggest part of the good is that,” he continued [Pissing Out Cancer] What I’ll do is turn the heat down a little bit and say, “If you’re worried about something, you need to go to the doctor, because you’re not going to be able to fix it without him.” But do not think that there is nothing they can do, because that is certainly not the case.”

Urinating outside cancer Premiering June 21 at 7pm ET on Dropout.

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