Vanessa Bayer on her family fighting her childhood leukemia diagnosis with comedy

'We would joke about it all the time'
Vanessa Bayer
Photo credit (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)

Vanessa Bayer was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was 15 years old. In order to help aid her recovery, her family turned to comedy.

LISTEN: Vanessa Bayer joins the Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend podcast

Podcast Episode
Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend
Vanessa Bayer
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

Bayer joined Conan O’Brien (who she used to be an intern for) on the Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend podcast as she opened up about her family using comedy as a means of dealing with her diagnosis. “We would joke about it all the time and we would particularly joke about all the perks we got from it,” Bayer said prompting O'Brien and everyone else to burst out laughing. “It’s like, whenever you go through a difficult time, people are so nice to you. Maybe I’m messed up [because] I focused on that.”

As Bayer was undergoing treatment, her school gave her the opportunity to take time away from school for her health, something Bayer admits she may have taken advantage of. “I just came into school whenever I wanted,” she recalled. “A lot of times it was because I wanted to sleep in. Especially later on in my treatment when I was starting to feel better, I could come in whenever I wanted… I didn’t have to do gym class. What is more humiliating in high school than gym class?”

Still, Bayer credits humor as a factor in aiding her recovery. “I feel focusing on that stuff helped me get through that time, but we really had fun with it,” she told O’Brien.

After 25 years at the Late Night desk, Conan realized that the only people at his holiday party are the men and women who work for him. Over the years and despite thousands of interviews, Conan has never made a real and lasting friendship with any of his celebrity guests. So, he started a podcast to do just that. Deeper, unboundedly playful, and free from FCC regulations, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend is a weekly opportunity for Conan to hang out with the people he enjoys most and perhaps find some real friendship along the way.

LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign up and follow Audacy
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram