Does Comedy Make Comedians Crazy? Or Is It Their Therapy?


Being a stand-up comedian is one of the hardest
jobs in the entertainment industry, if not the hardest job in the entertainment industry.
And it takes a special skill and a special talent to be able to do that, to be up there
onstage, just you and a microphone and a stool, and be able to be so open and vulnerable. You know, you hear stories. Comedians are more depressed. They have more substance abuse.
They have more this, more that. And, you know, they’re just a really, really troubled population.
And I, I don’t necessarily think they’re more troubled than anybody else. The lifestyle
of a stand-up comedian breeds the depression. Or can exacerbate something that’s pre-existing,
like the bipolar disorder, or substance abuse. Because what happens is that they are out
on the road, and they are by themselves, and they’re traveling sometimes to these areas
that aren’t very popular and aren’t very pretty and working in these dark, dank clubs
and then going back to a dark, dank hotel room. And it gets very, very lonely. They
don’t have their support system. They don’t have much of anything there. They’re by
themselves. So when you’re bored, you’re gonna find something to entertain yourself
with, like alcohol or drugs. And that’s that’s when the problems start to persist,
and then it, it goes on and on and on from there until they get treatment. Comedians do see comedy as a sort of self-treatment.
A lot of times they think of it as their therapy. The problem is, is that being onstage and
performing and doing your stand-up it’s not therapy. It is definitely therapeutic,
but it is not therapy. There is that thought that if you are successful, if you make more
money, if you are admired, if you’re recognized out on the street, that all your problems
are gonna go away. That is not true, and again, as we saw with Robin Williams, his problems
did not go away. Your problems just become different. They become different levels of
stress, different levels of depression. And it’s, across the board, if you don’t deal
with your mental health it’s not gonna go away. There is a stigma across the board still
with mental health. We think that that we can’t solve our own problems and if we go
seek help by talking to a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, any other mental health worker,
that there is a problem with us, that, that we’re crazy or something like that. So comedians
I think will and can be a useful resource in terms of teaching the world about mental
health issues. When you come out publicly, um, and deal with, um, any sort of issue on,
um, a certain level and talk about it as if it is just something that is not stigmatized,
then we won’t look at it as something that is bad or evil or that we’re actually ill.
I think what we need to start doing is really looking at mental health as any other medical
condition that we all experience. You know, we have a pain in our knee, a pain in our
back, we have diabetes, we have a heart condition, we go to a doctor, take medication, eat right,
exercise, do what we need to do, follow through with that. And we start getting better, hopefully.
Well, that’s the same thing with mental health.

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