Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sad Clown Syndrome

My whole life, I've dreamt of being an "artist." This is actually well documented in the form of my Those Wonderful School Days book. It asks you your teacher's name, your pets' names, your friends' names, what field trips you went on, and the be all, end all question for kids from kindergarten on up, "When I grow up I want to be_______________________." Let me fill you in on the results:

Kindergarten: An Artist (my mom wrote for me)
1st Grade: An Artist (thanks again, Mom)
2nd Grade: a Artest (my writing has since improved, yes?)
3rd Grade: a famios Artest (fukkin spelling)
4th Grade: an artis of paint (ALMOST THERE!)
5th Grade: An Artist (and in cursive too)
6th Grade: no entry. In middle school they stopped asking that question and so there is no entry for 6th grade. I guess by they figured by the time they hit sixth grade, the little fuckers oughta be gettin' jobs. So, for the next two years, I wrote them in myself.
7th Grade: Artist or Actress
8th Grade: An artist or an actress

Alas, I perjured myself in 4th grade because I have documented proof that I wanted to be a standup comedian in the assigned essay, "All About Me." In fact, I PLANNED on it, according to the essay. While I have always fancied being an artist or actress and my art and acting up were always very well received, the one job that, to this day, has been repeatedly recommended to me is comedian. It is also the one job I continue to fantasize about as a possibility. I don't think I'd have a shot in Hollywood or Broadway and I'm too lazy to market myself as a visual artist.

For years, I've mulled it over. Yet, I've never taken one single step toward accomplishing it. I guess that makes me kind of a big, fat hypocrite for all my GET OUT THERE AND DO IT talk. Oh well, those who can't do, blog.

There are reasons; okay, I'll admit it, excuses. The main excuse is crippling fear of dying pill bottle in hand, head in toilet. When I do decide to conquer this dream, I want to make sure I am mentally and emotionally prepared not to blow my brains out or OD, which is a more difficult prospect than it seems.

Virtually all successful comedians are haunted by an element of darkness. It's a profession with a disproportionately high rate of drug addiction, mental disorders, and suicide. These things are higher than usual in all forms of show biz, but comedians take the biggest hit. Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, John Belushi, Sam Kinnison, Richard Jeni, Greg Giraldo, Mitch Hedberg, Chris Farley, Ray Combs, the list goes on and on. Ever seen an old comedian? George Carlin is the only one that comes to mind and even he struggled with sobriety and suffered three heart attacks, despite being otherwise physically healthy.

This article sums it up best, "Why do comedians do this to themselves? It seems like more than most professions, depression is a prominent condition with comedians. I guess it's the classic sad clown syndrome — the smile is sometimes only painted on. Some comedians seem to have no happiness of their own, aside from the moments when they provide happiness to others. Even in death, especially in the age of the Internet, they can at least rest assured that they are still providing people with happiness."

A consistently busy travel schedule makes it difficult for comedians to form social or romantic relationships, adding isolation to the potentially fatal concoction. Other ingredients include, stress, insomnia, mania, social anxiety, and that beautiful yet crazy mind that only comedians have; that mind that sometimes forces them into comedy because they can't shoehorn themselves into any other role in society. Ingenious, radical thinkers and observers, but sad clowns one and all.

I'm in double trouble because of the idea that "women aren't funny." Plus, being sexually attractive AND funny seem to be mutually exclusive if you're a woman, and the idea of always being seen as hideous has little appeal to me. Name me one good looking, SUCCESSFUL female comedian. Eddie Izzard does not count. On the plus side, there aren't many female comedians who OD'd or blew their brains out.

In short, I don't want to end up dead before I need to. I don't want to become a drug addict. I don't want to flip out and randomly move to Poland. I don't want to be a sad clown. I don't want to be yet another human sacrifice. When I encourage you all to follow your dreams, make things happen, I'm most likely not steering you toward certain death. However, in my case....I suppose it really just makes me a big hypocrite, though I have pursued and accomplished many of my other mini-dreams.

I hate to leave on a downer, so let good ol' Georgie make light of the subject.

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