Sober Living the Mark Lundholm Way

By Robert Hunt

Late one night in 1988, Mark Lundholm realized he was truly down and out. He was dangerously addicted to drugs and alcohol; no one would talk to him; his family cut their ties with him; and he was ready to end his life. When he put a gun to his head, it was a moment of fate. He was only 29 years of age and was ready to pull the trigger. However, when he pulled the trigger to finally bring his misery to an end, the gun jammed.

His first thought was, I suck at everything I do!

Perhaps at the time, Mark really did suck at everything he did; but more likely, his Higher Power had more work ahead for him. Soon after the failed attempt to end it all, his life changed. That same night he admitted himself into a psychiatric detox center and subsequently into a halfway house. Sixty-two days into his recovery and still at the halfway house, he saw an intriguing flyer. A company was auditioning comedians and other performers to join their troupe and tour prisons, shelters and treatment centers.

His audition was a big hit. He performed a five-minute skit about smoking cocaine and life in a halfway house. Soon he was part of the troupe. Their first show was at the San Quentin State Prison. Although today he believes that his performance was terrible, he soon found himself hooked on performing and making light of the darkness of addiction and of sober living.

Mark Lundholm

Mark Lundholm

The troupe broke up a year later, but Mark continued on his own. He took his homeless, criminal and addiction-filled life and turned it around by finding amusement in its insanity. He continued touring and began to create a sense of hope for himself and others.

After a short time, Mark – a talented and enthusiastic performer – was bringing successful standup comedy shows to cities across the country. Today, he has toured 50 states and ten foreign countries. His “worked-there-ruined-that” style of humor is now so much more than a comedy show. It is a clever storytelling experience exploring the human journey into darkness with honesty, heartwarming moments and a strong message of hope.

His performance is a thought-provoking journey through one man’s decline and subsequent ascension – detailing his battles with addiction and loss in a manner that is sometimes shocking and always unceasingly honest. It never fails to leave audiences thinking differently about themselves and their loved ones. Describing his performances, Mark says, “Half is the humor; half is the hope; the rest is something I just love to do.”

The critics have been favorably impressed. The New York Times wrote, “Mr. Lundholm’s acerbic powers of observation are quite dark and funny.” The Chicago Sun-Times reported, “Lundholm is a terrific performer – aggressive, funny and charming.”

Mark has appeared on Comedy Central, Showtime, A&E, CBS and NBC. He also wrote and performed his own critically acclaimed one-man off-Broadway show in New York City. The stage play, Addicted . . . a comedy of substance, is an incredibly funny, candid portrayal of the dangerous choices and chances life offers. The play received great reviews from The New York Post, The New York Times and the Associated Press. It was voted the most highly recommended show in New York City by The Wall Street Journal’s Zagat Theatre Survey.

Perhaps it is the mascot in him – that member of a dysfunctional family who tries to get everyone laughing. Whether this is true of Mark’s history or not, he certainly has used his addiction and his path to sober living for the benefit of others. His story is a reminder that our character defects can be our assets; our faults can be our greatest resource.

As a comedian, Mark has been able to “. . . fine tune my defects into marketable skills.” He functions as both doctor and patient – helping others as he helps himself. He continues, “Humor in its essence is an invitation to trust. At its core, it’s a shame remover and a threat [reducer]. It takes away some of the stigma. I found that if we laugh at what we are afraid of, we don’t have to go back to it.”

Mark also gives motivational keynote addresses and presentations at professional conferences. His appearances are always the most highly attended and highly rated presentations. He has performed for the likes of Apple, Betty Ford, Donald Trump, Anthony Robbins, Eric Clapton and A&E.

When asked how he performs over 300 shows or presentations per year, he answered humbly, “God graced each of us with certain skills. With the amount of humor I have been blessed to create, how could I not work that much? This is the job I have because it is the work I was born to do – why would I stop?”

In Recovery Magazine was delighted to have Mark perform at their November 2014 Gratitude Gala. Lundholm is also the scheduled headliner on the In Recovery Magazine cruise to the Western Caribbean, December 5 through 12, 2015, including stops at Cozumel, Harvest Caye, Belize, Banana Coast-Trujillo and Honduras. On this seven-day cruise vacation aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Jade, travelers will experience meetings, workshops, special tours, a private party, shows, dancing, great food and lots of FUN-FUN-FUN.

During the 80th International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous, in Atlanta, Georgia, July 1-5, 2015, Sobriety Celebrations is producing shows and free talks at the Rialto Theater just a few blocks away from the hotels and convention center. A play about the lives of Bill W. and Dr. Bob will be featured, as will Mark Lundholm’s standup comedy. The program will start on Monday, June 29 and run through Monday, July 6.

Mark currently resides in San Jose, California with his boy, Grayson. As he shares the way to sanity in recovery, it’s clear there will be many more laughs ahead of him. He truly is a revolutionary entertainer.

Robert Hunt is a recovering addict of seven years. He has devoted his life to helping others with chemical addictions as well as mental health challenges. Robert maintains many blogs on drug addiction, eating disorders and depression. He is a sober coach and wellness advocate and a prominent figure in the recovery community. You can follow him on Twitter @RecoveryRobert and read his blog at

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