Tag Archives: comedy

Dying Is Easy; Comedy Is Hard

Robin Williams is dead, and there’s nothing to be done for it.

It’s a cruel, tragic waste of a brilliant, if often uneven, talent that obviously has affected people the world over–people who never met him, never interacted with him in any way except watching him on screens and monitors.  It seems grossly unfair and incomprehensible that someone who had the power to make so many people laugh apparently had such trouble finding happiness of his own.  How could it happen, that someone could be in that much pain, who seemingly had everything to live for?

The truth seems to be that it doesn’t matter if you drive a lovely car or live in a lovely house, or are surrounded by lovely people who care deeply for you, if it’s raining 24/7 inside your skull.  Some clearly have some sort of problem, whether it’s a chemical imbalance, or faulty neurological wiring, or a small demon setting up house on top of their hippocampus, which torments them and keeps them from living the great lives that they deserve to live.

It always seems even more shocking when something like this happens to comedians, as if it’s insult to injury that someone we depended on so frequently to make us laugh, now gives us grief.  While the notion that comedy doesn’t come from a joyous well of glee probably shouldn’t be surprising, the frequency with which depression and addiction attack comedians is an unpleasant reminder of the exact opposite.  An acknowledgement that the comedic sensibilities we admire are often forged from a lifetime of frustration and internal struggle.

I don’t know if there’s anything to be learned from this.  I don’t know if there is anything that would have helped him, or if this is just some malign fate that he could forestall but ultimately not escape.  If the phone had rang, or if someone had come to the door, would he have been safe after the moment had passed?  Or, perhaps, was it all something that had happened before, and only managed to make it to completion now?

There’s no way to see any grand lesson from something this senseless, except maybe the need to appreciate things.  Appreciate the good things, the things that make you laugh and give you joy, and appreciate too the bad things that plague others; appreciate that we all ride through life in our own little meat vehicles without any knowledge of what’s going on in the car next to us, and maybe appreciate that it’s better to err on the side of kindness accordingly.

None of this helps the anger or sadness of course–only time will help any of that.  They say that laughter is the best medicine; what a huge injustice that it often kills the doctor.