Contributor: Rick McGImpsey
I was never a stranger to comedy growing up. Laughter was as vitally important to me as breathing. There is an old French proverb that goes, “A day in which a man has not laughed is a day wasted.”
Humour is an outlet for which depression is battled on a daily basis. A good comedian is someone who can look at the shittiest aspects of our crummy world and react to them with laughter and good-nature. From what I understand, humour is the only appropriate reaction we have to face problems that we cannot change. The only other option is to complain and adopt the old, but still popular, “Woe is Me” mentality which so many people find miserable solace in. As someone who is clinically depressed I have taken that latter route too many times. The problems that I have with depression never will go away but at my best moments I laugh. I joke and enjoy life.
For me, Robin WIlliams was one of the earliest comedians I was introduced to. I grew up on Jumanji, Aladdin, Popeye, and Hook; and I came to love whatever he did. His ability to make me laugh was always a guarantee. As I got older I grew to appreciate some of his more serious films like The Fisher King, Insomnia, and Dead Poet’s Society. These performances showed me how versatile this man’s skills as an actor were. I found that not only could he make me laugh but he also could make me emotional or move me deeply.
Comedy is one of those art-forms that can only be done well by professionals. It’s too easy for humour to be stupid instead of funny, irritating instead of endearing, or offensive instead of clever. You may contend that humour relies on stupidity to get along and to some extent it does, but humour also requires intelligence and a realistic understanding of people to be affective.
Those in my experience who do comedy best are Monty Python, Laurel and Hardy, Conan O’Brien, Matt Groening, and Robin Williams. The key to these people’s success I think was their understanding of reality. They realised how shitty the world was and how awful we as human beings can be. Their humour openly mocked the world’s problems as they most deserved to be mocked.
Unfortunately understanding how shitty the world is and how awful we as human beings can be is cause for depression. I am sure most of the best comedians are depressed and humour is their way of dealing with it.
Robin Williams was one of the funniest men whose comedy I ever had the pleasure of experiencing. But he apparently felt depression deeply. It’s an unending struggle for anyone who deals with depression and sadly it defeated Robin Williams in the end.
I did not know Robin Williams personally but he was an important part of my life. I grew up with his work and he was always there for me. He is one of the few comedians I regard as a go-to guy for laughter. Youtube is a great tool for finding old comedy bits and I found refuge in watching him when I was depressed. Comedy is good therapy and Williams was one its best practitioners. When I learned that he died it felt like losing a long-time friend.
Robin Williams was by far one of the funniest comedians of our time. He made so many people happy and I heard from so many others that knew him personally that he was a very giving, generous man. It is tragic when people like him (or anyone for that matter) succumb to depression and commit suicide.
But there is one thing that I will not allow his death to take away. And that is my memories of him. He will still make me laugh when I watch his movies. He will still be one of my go-to guys for laughter and as long as I choose to remember him a part of him will never die.
There is a scene in Mrs. Doubtfire when his character’s three children walk upstairs to their bedrooms muttering that they miss their dad. As they go Robin Williams says, “I am still here guys. In some form.” And it’s true. He is still here in our memories and isn’t leaving any time soon. Robin Williams, I am gonna miss you, man.
As someone who struggles with it I know depression is very real and can be crippling. If anyone reading this is feeling suicidal and alone I urge you to call the number and/or go to the website below for help. You will not be judged and you will not be turned away.
Call 24/7: 1-800-273-8255