Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What's Behind the Punchline, and Why We Should Never Stop Talking About It

On the heels of Robin Williams’ tragic death by virtue of suicide, many are shining light on the fact that often the funniest people are also, the saddest. The unequivocal truth behind those words resonated with me in a way words won’t do justice. Humor has always been my saving grace. No matter what cards life has dealt me—good or bad—I’ve always searched for the humor in them. “How can I spin this to make it funny?” “How can I write it in a way that will deliver a knee-slapper from my readers?” This is how I’ve approached almost every situation I’ve encountered. And as a comic, that is what keeps me going. It’s not a bad thing.

The poison lies in the debilitation. When we can’t reach out. When the crippling claws of depression dig so deep into our psyche we can’t fathom functioning at a normal human capacity. As someone who suffers from depression, anxiety, and OCD, humor is my oxygen, and also my kryptonite. But when it comes down to it, it’s no joke. Depression is blind when seeking its victims. It doesn’t care who you are or where you come from or how much money you have in your pocket. As someone who had seen suicide as the panic button that was always available in the darkest of times, I had recognized how dangerous that thought was—and immediately sought help. But I’ve witnessed some who didn’t recognize the danger their own thoughts harbored, and sought refuge by pressing that button.

I’m a firm believer of no-holds barred humor. Everything is on the table. Offensive or cheesy. Witty or just blatantly immature. Laughter is one of the greatest gifts we can give, and I wish nothing more than to bring more of it to this world. No matter how you derive the punchline, the objective will always be to get your audience to laugh. But as so many use humor to bury the pain they feel, it’s important to never stop talking about mental illness. It is a fight not many are willing to admit, and even more who choose to remain blissfully ignorant until it’s too late. We will laugh, and we will cry. But we must always talk. Never neglect those whose public image seems nothing out of the ordinary. Rip the mask off. And sometimes, you have to forcibly rip it off. Yes, tweet the National Suicide Prevention hotline. Share my essay and anyone else’s. But look at those closely around you. Really look at them, really closely. What do you think they’re thinking about at the end of the day? Ask yourself, “what can I do or say that might shine a different ray of light on this person’s life?” Hug them. Tell them you love them. And laugh. Because life is funny. You should laugh.  But realize sometimes that laughter is a tool to conceal deeply-rooted a pain. I cannot make it anymore abundantly clear: mental illness IS manageable. The chemical infrastructure of your brain is NOT a hopeless puzzle. If you or anyone you know struggles with depression or any form of mental illness, realize it is not the end of your life. You have the power within to continue pursuing your dreams. You can learn to live with it. When all one sees is black, and they’re stumbling around to find door, or if they have given up on looking for it: there could be something you can do today to open it from the other side.  

R.I.P Robin Williams
Thank you for all the laughs you gave me every Sunday growing up. My dad and I would watch your movies when my mom went to work. I'll never stop watching them.


  1. Replies
    1. thanks for always being such a sweetheart. i love you, jared

  2. Humour is like Kryptonite indeed, but the whole rainbow, every variety of it. Beneficial, super-powering, bizarre, weakening or even deadly.