They say Laughter is the Best Medicine
Many people turn to comedy to cheer them up. It’s a natural move to make. They say that laughter is the best medicine, yet when it comes to the entertainment industry. And more specifically comedy, why do so many in it suffer from anxiety, depression and addiction?
A large number of talented comics have suffered at the hand of drugs, alcohol and mental illness, many speaking out and getting the alcohol rehab they need, many others keeping it bottled up and ultimately ending in the comedy world mourning their death.
The likes of Lenny Bruce, John Belushi, Chris Farley have all lost their lives to drug overdoses, while the premature death of Robin Williams back in 2014 shook the world.
He battled with a cocaine addiction throughout the 1970s and ‘80s. With the death of Belushi and birth of his son, prompting him to give up the drugs and alcohol. However, alcohol returned into his life in the mid-2000s and a number of stints in rehab, including in 2014. Shortly before his death, although alcohol was not in his system at the time of death.
It isn’t just at the upper echelons of comedy where many comics suffer. The Pale Tourist once said about his job as a comedian, “There is nothing normal about going onstage and making a crowd of strangers laugh.”
“Stand-up is an endorphin rush probably similar to a drug. It’s also a strange combination of control (you have a mic) and no control (the reaction of the audience).”
Alongside this, effectively comics are battling with two personas, much in the same way actors do. There’s the real them, and the onstage persona, which can be difficult to juggle, and with many comics gigging late into the night, access to drugs and alcohol increases and addiction can be a lot more prevalent.
There are many reasons why comics turn to substances. Often, comics get on stage in the first place as a space and an outlet to release their problems. While others have an unhealthy craving for attention.
The comedy industry has a lot of trauma and pain among its talent, and therefore it naturally lends itself to more people seeking out substances, in the same way many people not in the comedy industry suffering from trauma and pain would. Except those substances are a lot more accessible, those people are in the public eye, and therefore we’re made away of the battles they have.
Over the last few years, The scene has begun to change and more and more comics. Are filtering into the more productive channels of therapy to combat mental health problems. Which is only good for the scene, and more importantly those suffering too.