Comedians, are often the last group of people that we think suffer from depression. Their entire professional objective is to make people happy, to conjure laughter and make reality less daunting. But often times we fail to see the the obvious signs. Comedy is a great coping mechanism because people don’t take the “funny-guy/gal” seriously. We tend to overlook the human aspects of those individuals who make us laugh for a living. After all, they’re always smiling, always telling interesting stories about situations, events and connections they have with people.
No one really thinks about what it’s like to be a comedian before becoming successful, or the skills that have to be developed over the course of many years that are are needed in that profession. Stand up Comedy is storytelling and it is as instinctive as human language itself. There is a certain rawness and prestige to Stand up Comedy, that just seems authentic. But what are the factors that determine good Stand up Comedy? You need a beginning, middle and end. Also the ability of delivery which is just as important as timing and reading the audience. A comedian has to sharpen a series of very small stories into funny, even insightful observations, and sometimes stretch out a single story with many small breaks or tangents into longer inter connected segments. While also adapting to the audience’s response and amending the stories in real time based on feedback and intuition. All of this, done well enough to get an audience to pay you money for an hour or maybe more. A truly gifted comedian can read a technical manual out loud and still have the audience laughing. On stage, the comedian is often acting and crafting an elaborate persona. But we often forget, that the person on the stage is just that a persona, constructed for your enjoyment.
The same persona is often used to mask pain, after all hiding in plain sight is the best strategy. You don’t assume that someone who laughs often feels depressed, very often it’s the people who appear to have it all together who are on the verge of breaking apart. They hide in plain sight, observe and adapt as needed and have a ridiculous wall to climb before success is even visible. Comedy is an art and to make money at your art, you have to having a willing consumer base. For niche arts, it’s even more difficult. It’s understandable that TV, music and movies have a broad general audience, and comedy is sadly one subset of those entertainment options. Stand-up is a very narrow performance venue with very few opportunities, given the cultural adoption of viewing it. People don’t think of going to see stand-up on Saturday in the same way they think of going to the movies or seeing a music show. As such the come-up(period of time before blowing up) is cut-throat, and vicious.
Now for the conclusion, the Comedian throughout all this, is to keep up a persona, a fake identity and fake happiness, laughter when they may very well be feeling the complete opposite. Cue music, the curtain comes down.