Entertainment is tough business; with the success comes the limelight, and living life under a microscope isn’t easy.
To fully understand my perspective; I’d have to rewind the clock when I was a lonely teenager who didn’t have many friends and due to severe anxiety, had to be homeschooled.
I learnt to adapt to what I had to work with at the time, I found my love of Literature provided me with the ability to expand my imagination.
And then came along comedians.
One’s childhood cannot be complete without mentioning the Quiet, Silly, and almost alien-like character created by Mr. Rowan Atkinson; Mr. Bean.
That was my first experience with a character played by a person whom I didn’t know at all, but could form a personal connection with.
Mr. Bean, to me, during the time of my childhood was a character that I could relate with; a goofball with good intentions who the world didn’t quite understand.
Then came the discovery of the Pythons.
The completely absurd and surreal sketch comedic stylings of Monty Python and the Flying Circus drew me into writing characters of my own.
My favourite being the Undertaker Sketch,
Despite being absolutely loony and absurd, I found it funny; so I started using characters from Monty Python as a tool to mask my anxiety, and it helped.
As I grew older, so did my venture into comedy.
I would discover Don Rickles, John Belushi, Chris Farley, John Candy, Norm Macdonald, Andy Kaufman, and Robin Williams later on in life.
What drew me to Robin Williams and Chris Farley the most was their ability to ALWAYS be funny.
From their appearances on Late-Night talk shows to Award Ceremonies; they were always on their A-Game.
Their goal was to bring joy to the world.
But there was a darker side to it; I would only come to realise when I began my professional life.
It’s not easy keeping up an act all the time.
And that’s what it is; it’s an act.
A comedian’s main goal is to get the audience to laugh; it’s their aphrodisiac of choice.
It’s the biggest high of all.
I’d learn about Mr. Belushi and Mr. Farley’s death; their flirtation with drugs and what a toll being a comedian takes one an entertainer’s life.
It isn’t something one can shut off.
So it was heart-breaking for me, to learn that the very comedian who convinced me life was worth living for; would take his own — Robin Williams.
Watching the documentary “Come Inside My Mind” — struck a chord with me.
It was the realisation that it was in his most serious work; that his character truly bled through.
Comedy was a method, a therapeutic one; to make life worth living.
Chris Farley had his demons too; as it would be revealed to me later in life.
His insecurities about his body.
Once saying in his own words, “Everybody laughs when chubby falls down”.
Yet it didn’t keep him from doing it repeatedly to entertain the audience.
Because that’s what they wanted.
But for me, Farley’s greatest moments were when he would interview celebrities on Saturday Night Live.
Revealing a truly sensitive character; a self-deprecating one, riddled with insecurities.
He was larger than life; a true entertainer.
This piece today is not just to show appreciation for the work and sacrifices comedians make; it is also to acknowledge just how many lives they save by using laughter as a tool to bring happiness to others — even if it means bringing harm to theirs.
The great Chris Farley, even at his most vulnerable of times; wouldn’t shy away from making people laugh.
Whilst in rehab for drug abuse, He found a young child observing him as Farley sat in the Church.
Farley, slowly got up and started walking back to the entrance of the church as he passed the kid by and gave him a smile; he then turned his head back towards the kid as he passed him by and fell flap on the floor; got up, brushed himself off and yelled “So STUPID!”. As the kid began to giggle, he said “Alright, Take care kid!” and walked away.
There weren’t any cameras around and surely wasn’t fun for him to do so; probably not necessary.
But he felt the need to do so, because to him the greatest joy of all was to bring laughter to others.