In the wake of the death of comedian Robin Williams, I found myself wondering, “why are so many comedians depressed?” Williams struggled with depression for a long time before deciding to (allegedly) commit suicide. And he wasn’t the only one; there are many famous comedians who have battled depression.
Famous Comedians who have struggled with major depressive disorder include:
- Jim Carrey
- Ellen DeGeneres
- David Letterman
- Sarah Silverman
- Conan O’Brian
- Owen Wilson
- Woody Allen
- Drew Carey
To some people, it is surprising to discover that the very people who make us laugh and feel good are not constantly giggling their way through life. In fact, the private selves of most comedians are very distinct from their public personas. In their everyday life, comedians are often highly sensitive, observant outliers, who spend a lot of time in their heads.
Inside a comedian’s mind
“In accessing the subconscious and trying to deliberately think about everyday things from unusual and unexpected angles there is occasionally an overlap with what would be considered mentally ill behavior if it wasn’t being done on purpose.” ~ Richard Herring
Comedians and introverts have a whole lot in common. In fact, studies have shown that most comedians are introverts. This makes sense when you consider how much time they spend observing and thinking (which can quickly lead to obsessing and overthinking). Both comedians and introverts are also known for being sensitive and intuitive. These qualities are the very reason why comedians are so good at picking up on subtleties and turning everyday occurrences into hilarious social commentaries.
Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t exactly nurture sensitivity and introspection. We’re more of a back-slapping, he-who-shouts-the-loudest-wins sort of society. I suspect this is a major reason why many comedians struggle with depression. I have heard from several introverts who say that their struggle with depression was likely caused by the overwhelming pressure to be more extroverted.
Another interesting facet of the comedian’s personality is their need for autonomy. The world of stand-up comedy is a place of rare individualism, free speech and independence. The comedian slays or gets slayed all on his own. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. Introverts, too, are known for excelling in roles where they can be completely autonomous.
R.I.P. Robin Williams
I found this post is a major consciousness raiser, thank you and keep up the briliant work.
Great to hear that! Thanks Adam. 🙂
thanks very much for the post,am an introvert so I can I feel this post connection to me very much.most of the people don’t know about introverts because they’re quite funny and witty,but sometimes we need to be extroverts and that creates a pressure over us because its really difficult.
If we are not allowed to be ourselves, all introverts are at risk. Gia Allemand, Lee Thompson Young, Cory Monteith (not technically a suicide, but he’d been killing himself slowly for years). All described as sensitive, thoughtful and gentle. All trying to live according to the rigid rules prescribed by society. This is a suffocating way of life, for some, it is too much to bear.
Makes sense to me. I did use humor though in middle school and late elementary to take away from my serious nature. I decided to stop doing it as much, because people forget that just because I joke around doesn’t mean I’m not sensitive and don’t get my feelings hurt. After, that is when things actually went down for me, I didn’t know I was introvert back then just different and sometimes a contradiction. So I felt I had to make a choice, I actually became quite depressed ended up being bullied, had my hair cut by some girl, went even deeper into the sadness because I tried to fit in with some wild extroverts, forgetting my need for time alone. Now I’m much better, do I miss being the funny girl? Of course, but I don’t know if that was me or just a face I used to cover up my sensitivity and serious nature? But I never thought about the connection between sensitivity and humor, maybe why I’m always laughing to myself at things some people don’t even notice. I guess now people would have to get to know me to see that humor
Anyway will honestly miss this man, R.I.P Robin Williams, I cried when I found out he was such an inspiration for me. Just look at that smile! I
would you kindly cite the studies that show comedians to be introverts, etc?
All of these ideas about “introvert,” and that of its opposite behavior “extravert,” or being an outgoing reminded me of “Analytical Psychology,” founded by Carl Jung, a swiss psychiatrist and a disciple of Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist who established “School Of Psychoanalysis,” Vienna, Austria. Dr.Jung pioneered the study about the world of both introvert, or a loner and that of extravert.