Tag Archives: Comedy

Robin Williams: the Pain of Laughter

22 Aug

I was lucky enough to see Robin Williams live in person on two occasions. The first was sometime in 2009 when I attended a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 30 Rock, and the second was early last year at the Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado at Boulder, for An Evening of Sit-Down with Robin Williams.  Both of these occasions were amazing, and the audiences were treated to the genius mind of Williams, which was frantic, manic, and tinged with a unique ability to move in and out of endless characters and voices.  He was an utter genius, and anyone who was a fan of his comedy and films was well aware of this.  He surely will be missed by millions of people around the world.

When the news that Williams had committed suicide spread, some of the first reactions were of complete disbelief.  Not very many people could believe that a man who brought so much laughter and joy to others could possibly have wanted to take his own life.  However, there have been many well-documented studies that link the personalities of comedians and performers to psychotic personality traits.  Earlier this year, a study performed at Oxford University concluded that “stand-ups of a modern era are likely to have greater levels of extraversion – a form of impulsiveness – yet be more depressive and unsociable at the same time”.   Making people laugh is viewed by many comedians as a form of self-medication.  One thing was clear about Robin – he loved to laugh and to make others laugh.  However, there is often hidden pain within many people, and Robin’s battle with depression is one shared silently by many others, including myself.

The odd thing about depression is how it comes and goes, and the dark surprise by which it takes you when it returns.  When I attempt to discuss my depression with people close to me, I am more than often met with disbelief.  People refuse to believe that “someone like you” has any right to be depressed.  Depression is not a right, nor is it a conscious choice.  Depression is a disease that encompasses not only mental effects, but physical effects as well.  My struggle with depression began early in life, perhaps around the age of thirteen, when years of bullying caught up to me.  For years, I was tormented regularly by children in elementary and junior high school, for a multitude of reasons.  I was the favorite target, most likely because my tormentors knew how easy it was to make me cry.  Years later, second and third waves of depression hit me following a difficult breakup and the death of  my best friend.  I am currently in the process of recovering from the third major depressive episode of my life.  This most recent depressive episode coincided with my starting stand up comedy.

A sensitive heart and soul is often a feature of an artist, and comedians in particular tend to have addictive personalities and tendencies toward mental illness.  As someone pursuing a career in comedy, I can easily say that a depressive personality is common among comedians.  Many fellow comics struggle with anxiety and depression, among other mental afflictions.  This does not mean that comedians are completely dysfunctional, but there is a quality that attracts people to quality that directly corresponds with some sort of need for validation.  I know that for me personally, my experiences with being teased for many years in school is a contributing factor toward my desiring a career in the creative arts.  It is part of a drive to leave a legacy and somehow show those who put me down that I am indeed valuable in some way.

Although none of us will ever know the exact factors that drove Mr. Williams to take his own life, it is important for an conversation regarding mental illness and depression to commence in this country.  Far too many people suffer in silence, unable to discuss their feelings with their own family members.  The stigma of depression is what leads to acts of suicide shocking so many people.  However, to acknowledge the pain and struggle of depression is to become more self-aware as humans and as friends to one another.

You will be missed, Robin Williams.

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I Am Doing Stand Up Comedy and All of a Sudden Shit Makes Sense

9 Aug

This blog has become less of a priority for me as I have begun my stand up career.  Now that I am performing stand up and putting myself out there with the possibility of being seen by someone who matters, everything makes a lot of sense to me.  I was always a fan of stand up but I never quite thought I had it in me to actually try it until recently.  I started in January, and I try to go onstage at least seven or eight times a week.  I’ve been performing regularly at open mics and some booked shows around Los Angeles, and I now feel as though I have some purpose in life and a way to showcase my thoughts and writing to complete strangers.

What I am hoping is that over time, this blog will become a website to showcase upcoming shows and my other comedy-related activities.

Here’s a clip of me performing in the Ed Galvez Punkhouse on July 2nd (the embed code does not work on WordPress for some reason, so if anyone has a tip for this, please let me know):

http://rooftopcomedy.com/watch/DatingInLA1

Let Us Discuss Los Angeles

31 Jan
Sunset

Sunset on Santa Monica beach

The city I live in now, if one can call it that, is a complete dump compared to Los Angeles.  I went to LA for my birthday and to explore the city in preparation for my move.  I was completely and pleasantly surprised by my experience. Here’s some of the great things LA has to offer:

1. Gorgeous Scenery

The stereotype is that LA is a smog-filled wasteland consisting of nothing but cement buildings and gang members. This is so far from the truth. There are trees and mountains, a blue sky, and fabulous sunsets that overflow with orange goodness.  Sure, there are less pretty areas of LA, but overall it gets a thumbs up for looking good.

The view of Hollywood Hills from the LACMA.

The view of Hollywood Hills from the LACMA.

2.  Thriving Arts Scene

Young people flock to Los Angeles with hopes of making it in music, film, comedy, and more.  Really, only two cities are important when you’re trying to do artsy fartsy things (No, the other one is not Austin. Shut up about Austin, hipster people.) As someone who hopes to write for television and film and pursue a stand up career, it is the perfect place to be.  LA is also home to some amazing art museums. I recommend the Stanley Kubrick and Caravaggio exhibits at the LACMA.

3. Hot Men for Days

Colorado Springs leaves something to be desired in the men department.  First off, the guys in Colorado are not men. They are boys. Second, Colorado boys seem to have no real ambition – at least the ones I know.  LA offers hot single men on every street corner and in every bar.  Not only are they hot, but they are super-confident and will talk to you. Then you will get asked out three times in three days.  Amazing.

4. Friendly, Interesting People

I bet you’re surprised by this one. I was too, at first. I expected everyone in LA to be a shallow bag of dicks. People were so overly friendly that it really sealed the deal for me.  It’s amazing how people will strike up a conversation with you on a whim in LA.  I am so down for some positive energy and vibes, and the people seem to have this down very well.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach – photo by me!

5. Actual Things to Do

I have spent the last three years of my life wondering what the hell I should do all day long. Why is this? Because there is nothing to do in Colorado Springs.  LA has museums, clubs, parks, restaurants, bars, theater, comedy clubs, and way more to offer.  If you need something to do, go to LA. That’s where I’m going to be.

Here's me at Red O on my birthday with a phallic-shaped bottle of tequila.

Here’s me at Red O on my birthday with a phallic-shaped bottle of tequila.