You Don’t Have To Be Crazy, But It Helps.

Mental illness and comedy often go together. The clown who’s crying on the inside may be a cliché, but it got that way because so many comedians struggle with depression. Maybe the impulse to get up on a stage and try and make a roomful of strangers laugh is a form of mental illness, and even if it’s not the time spent on the road and the frustration of dying and the euphoria of killing has got to take its mental toll.

It’s not something most comedians talk about, which is surprising. There’s a strong stigma around mental illness, but most comedy comes from talking about what’s taboo, or at least what makes people uncomfortable. I’ve heard several times that the best way to get a comedian to talk about something is to tell them not to talk about it.

Maybe that’s why Maria Bamford talks so openly—and often hilariously—about her battles with obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder. She’s helped make mental illness less scary, although in her acts she covers a wide range of topics because her problems are only a part of who she is.

Happy birthday Maria Bamford. Keep taking care of the pugs.

8 Comments

  1. Sandra

    This was a breath of fresh air, and I love Maria Bamford. I had never heard of her, now I suspect Youtube is going to be slowing down the wi-fi in our home. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There’s quite a bit of her on Youtube, but my favorite is her one-hour Christmas special where she sits on her couch at home and tells jokes while her pugs lie next to her and snore. It’s several years old but still a riot.

      Reply
  2. kdcol

    I was JUST thinking last night how I’m becoming more and more like my mother. I realized that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    When Gerald and I were dating, I told him I believed that everyone had a touch of crazy. He didn’t believe me, but after being married to me for so long and seeing my crazy come out, I think he agrees a little more. ha.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The ones who don’t think we’re all a little bit crazy are usually the ones that frighten me, but Gerald seems like a good guy. Maybe he just hasn’t recognized his own bit of craziness yet.

      Reply
  3. Gina W.

    I had seen this woman before but I didn’t know her name. She always seemed funny to me; I’m going to have to make a note to see more of her stuff.

    In reply to Karen’s comment about everyone being a little bit crazy, I’ve said before that everyone seems normal until you get to know them better.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Maybe it’s just me but my experience has always been sort of the opposite. Everyone seems weird to me until I get to know them and I say, oh, so that’s why you’re like that. But then I never think of being weird as a bad thing. In fact the weirder the better.

      Reply
  4. Shawna

    I am in love with her comedy. And, I think it would so benefit a lot of creative people out there if this was a topic brought to light a little more often. This hits really close to home because my brother in law was a creative genius and a prodigy and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed suicide. It was sad how many people assumed he died from a drug overdose instead of realizing the mental anguish he had experienced for years before his death. It wasn’t something anyone could talk about publicly because he had a fan base and he was ashamed of what he was going through. it is heartbreaking to know that people are pushed away from sharing their stories due to fear of rejection when they are so easily embraced for their talent without the knowledge of their brains being “broken” being publicly shared. It is a very lonely world.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m so sorry to hear about your brother and also so glad you shared his story. I read something recently that really made me think about how things are connected, how drug use may be treated as one problem and schizophrenia a separate problem, but they may be connected; one may be a symptom of the other. It’s also very sad he was ashamed of what he was going through. As a society we really have to get past that.

      Reply

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