With the exception of a few close friends, not many people I know really know the true me. I think this is probably a safe bet to say in general. That’s what makes them close friends.
However, when I decided to introduce myself to a new environment – one filled with comedians, writers and other creative types – it had a strange effect of feeling completely out of my comfort zone and, at the same time, like a fish finding it’s way back toward the sea.
Originally, the only reason I joined Facebook was in an effort to network with a creative community that I had no access to otherwise in an effort to take advantage of social media, especially as someone who was somewhat “late to the game” of comedy years ago.
Out of this community and into the “real” world, I have found some of the richest, most real relationships I could have ever hoped for. These are people who see the whole thing – warts and all – and not only accept it but understand it. This was something I had really never understood before. Acceptance is wonderful and for that, I am eternally grateful. When one has both acceptance and understanding, that is where real empathy enters the picture.
It saddened me to learn about the passing of a fellow comedian today. I say “fellow comedian” when she was clearly heads above my level and I had only worked with her a few times. I am not going to mention names nor post any of the photos I have with her out of respect for the seriousness and sadness of this. And while I do not know the circumstances nor the cause, based on a few comments I read on Facebook, I would not be surprised if it had to do with depression, bringing back the recent passing of the comedic powerhouse, Robin Williams.
I really contemplated whether or not to even blog about this, mainly for the reason that while many “accept” the fact that many comedians march to the beat of a different drummer, I was fearful that this would exacerbate the cliche that comedians are all “screwed up, manic depressives who can never manage through their issues.” Without defending nor supporting, this is just too simplistic to even begin to address in a blog post.
My personal opinion is that many of those in the comedy world who are just so incredibly funny, authentic and compassionate gather their creative expression from darker places, as many artists do. When I read about someone passing in a way that can have been avoided, it makes me sad to never know what is going to become of that person and vulnerable at the same time – vulnerable to the fact that we must all have a breaking point. I hope mine is beyond my grasp as I hope it is for you.
I don’t know if comedy is a pill or it’s a band-aid. Sometimes it feels like a bad hangover (either metaphorically or literally). What I do know, is that it isn’t some dumb hobby nor a call to gain attention. People express, celebrate and grieve in different ways and comedy is but one avenue. The comedian off stage, however, is no different than anyone else. Everyone needs someone who cares.
Regardless, I feel so grateful for every friend that calls, for every friend I can reach out to and most of all for acceptance and understanding. I hope I can return the favor.
Until next time,