MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Kevin Schwartz never thought he’d be on stage.
“It’s very hard for me to get myself to do things,” Schwartz admitted. “If you took me back ten years and said ‘Why don’t you go on TV?’ that was something that I would never ever do.”
In fact, for years it was hard for Schwartz to even leave his house.
“The main thing I would leave my house for was to go to psychiatry appointments,” said Schwartz.
As many viewers of America’s Got Talent learned, Schwartz suffers from agoraphobia. It took him years to take control of his severe anxiety and depression.
“Eventually I got put on the right combinations of medicines,” said Schwartz. “I started venturing out a little bit more.”
His psychiatrist challenged him to go somewhere adventurous which is how Schwartz found Comedy on State. He began writing the first of hundreds of jokes at the Comedy Club in Madison.
“It took me awhile and I have good days and bad days and I have a lot of luck and a lot of help getting where I did,” said Schwartz.
Before long, Schwartz ended up as a contestant on America’s Got Talent sharing his comedy on national television.
“It’s been crazy,” he said. “I just was like ‘Get through my set and don’t mess up.’”
Schwartz credits his success to the thriving Madison comedy scene.
“I think people underestimate the Madison comedy scene,” he said.
Jake Snell, an organizer for Madison Comedy Week, says Schwartz is putting more eyes on Wisconsin comedy.
“Madison is getting on the National map for comedy,” Snell said. “Or at least increasing its weight nationally.”
Schwartz continues to battle his anxiety and hopes his story can help others who are like him. But he says he doesn’t want his success to be used to push other people out of their comfort zone when they’re not ready.
“I hope I’m not used as a weapon against people who suffer from similar anxieties,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz will be performing throughout Madison Comedy Week. He’ll be doing his own stand-up at Comedy on State on Tuesday, June 18th and Wednesday, June 19th at 9:00pm. On June 20th, he’ll be at the Atlas Improve at 7:00pm.