PEOPLE TEND TO write about stand-up comedians a specific way: OH! The misery of it all.
Awful bars full of awful people joking about awful things, ostensibly with the intention to make audiences laugh, but really to communicate a bulging psychosis. Sad clowns, right? What's that I see behind those eyes? You know, a lot of these funny people are just walking a tightrope of sanity. ONE DAY, AND SOONER THAN LATER, SOMETHING'S GOING TO COME DOWN THE PIKE AND THIS ASSHOLE WITH A MICROPHONE ISN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO PROCESS IT AND HE'S GOING TO SNAP. You know, I'm not surprised Robin Williams killed himself... there was always a sadness there. I felt it. I did. I would feel it for about nine minutes, and then TBS would go to commercial, and then I would think about Quiznos, and then Mrs. Doubtfire would come back on, and I'd feel Robin Williams' sadness again.
I've heard other comedians talk about being a stand-up in similar tones, reducing a varied and unique existence down to what is essentially a nihilistic Bob Seger setlist, without any of the romanticism. IT'S A LONG AND LONESOME HIGHWAY EAST OF OMAHA, WHERE I HAVE TO PERFORM FOR A BUNCH OF WALMART EMPLOYEES WHO AREN'T CONTEXTUALLY EQUIPPED TO PROCESS MY ESOTERIC DECONSTRUCTIONS OF COMEDY.
I'm a stand-up comedian. I've been performing for nearly five years. I've performed next to an active Big Buck Hunter machine and driven hundreds of miles just for gas money and stage time. (BEEF JERKY TAX WRITE-OFF.) I've had a few lucky breaks, but I've lived the ugly. I've been that "sad clown" in the empty bar. I've been a miserable stand-up comedian, and let me tell you this about stand-up comedy: Baby-doll gets a bad rap.
The road is hard, it's hard to be away from your home and your stuff and your friends. It doesn't matter if you're driving to Pocatello or taking a private jet to San Francisco, it's lonesome. Then, you realize you're in Pocatello or San Francisco and you don't have to be anywhere until showtime. You get to see the country and meet the people who live there. DAWG, ARCHITECTS DON'T GET TO DO THAT.
Comedians get depressed, yes—we're people. I've been massively depressed during the time I've spent in stand-up. During that time, though, stand-up served as a salve—and I don't even mean the act of performing... I mean the community. I could turn to a group of people who are analytical and introspective. I could watch people make light of their own issues and find commonality in coping. Then, afterward, we could laugh about dicks or abortion or whatever it is you think we joke about. Everyone should be so lucky to have this infrastructure in their lives. May as well link arms and laugh into the darkness, because it's dark either way.