Embracing our constraints (and refusing to be a victim of them) does not mean passive acceptance. Debt—and other financial issues—is one of those constraints. A great deal of art has been made by the prototypical starving artist, but that doesn’t mean you have to turn yourself into one. You can live an extraordinary life under the weight of debt, but getting out from that weight is an even better story.

On February 14, 2006, I walked into a trustee’s office and with one signature became bankrupt. Years of debt had spiralled out of control, to the point where even with a good living at the top of my career as a comedian I couldn’t get any further than the minimum payments, and the interest was piling up. I was given mountains ...

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