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Being a comedian means knowing a lot of people who've committed suicide.
August 28, 2014 6:26 PM   Subscribe

"My count is now up to five. Five of my friends and fellow comedians have taken their own life. It's shocking, but, sadly, not surprising. Non-comedians — or as we call them, 'civilians' — are always surprised. And I am always surprised they're so surprised. They have yet to realize the Two Big Things all comedians know." [may be triggering]

Also from Rolling Stone: Robin Williams: The Fast and the Funniest
Williams' humor was acerbic but never bullying — he was savage and affectionate at the same time, spacey yet humane. Consider him telling a San Francisco audience in 1982: "I have good news for you: While you've been here this evening, groups of gay men have broken into your home and redecorated it. You'll come back to your house going, Austrian drapes?"

It's hard to overstate how bizarre this gag seemed in the Eighties — a gay joke that wasn't a homophobic putdown. It wasn't even a joke about sex. It was edgy — you had to know a thing or two about gay stereotypes to get it. But the humor was in the blasé way Williams challenged you to keep up with his sense of anything-goes tolerance. He made people laugh at their own prejudices and hang-ups. Compare this to the anti-gay jokes that stars like Eddie Murphy were doing at the time, and you can get a sense of why people were genuinely shocked by Robin Williams. The world wanted more of him, much more. And that's why the world is grieving for him today."
Bonus link

Us Weekly has a pretty good photo slideshow of Robin Williams with fellow entertainers, with accompanying tweets/messages from the celebrities. One example, from Katy Bates: "@MsKathyBates: Magnificent Robin RIP. The Black Dog won the war. So sad. Thank you for the quarter you loaned me to call my mom at the '90 Globes.")

Related: FanFare – Robin Williams Movie Club (viewing schedule).
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (53 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, that last line.
posted by The Gooch at 6:52 PM on August 28 [22 favorites]


Dana Gould is a treasure. Hope he lives to 1000
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:11 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


There was definitely something aspirationally inclusive about the stuff RW did with stereotypes, even if some of it got to seem retrograde and slightly squicky at a certain point. Rob Sheffield does a nice job of presenting that.
posted by batfish at 7:12 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Oh, this article was lovely. Dana Gould, you are lovely.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:24 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


"Being funny is not being happy."

Oh, yeah. Most of the time, self-deprecating humor is a way to say to imaginary bullies or imaginary disapproving authority figures, "Well, I hate me first, and I hate me better, so back off!"

It usually comes bundled with scathing satire, which is a bridle for rage otherwise unbridled. Wackiness is often an escape, a free-form flight into someplace the rage and hate at the self can't reach. Can't live there all the time, tho - even Peter Pan needs to rest sometime.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:42 PM on August 28 [27 favorites]


That was a good read, thanks.

I've known a fair number of comedians over the years from when my friend managed a Yuk Yuk's. I noticed that the majority of them had a bunch of things in common: they were wicked funny, they were deep thinkers, the funny was the flip side of not funny - depressingly so, and they had major drug and/or alcohol dependencies. Like a said, not all of them, but many.

I've also known a bunch of artists and authors and not surprisingly they share many of the same qualities as comedians.

As Dana writes in the article, great creativity can come at such a great personal cost. Not being particularly creative or intelligent myself (not that these are the only reasons anybody can suffer from mental health problems), I don't seem to suffer from depression, drug or alcohol dependencies so I can't say how great the personal cost may be to be a genius. These people are amazing, worth their weight in gold, and that they're willing to share the way their vision of the world in their unique ways is priceless.
posted by ashbury at 7:43 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


False modesty aside, I have always been pretty funny. My elementary school report cards cite my "hyperactive imagination," and my "proclivity towards being talkative." I was also insecure, terrified and so crammed full of anxiety that I could barely function. Why? Because of my "hyperactive imagination." One day I came home from school and could not find my mother. She had gone next door to visit our neighbor and lost track of time. How did she know I was home? Because she heard me screaming.

Turns out I was meant to be a comedian.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:51 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


I get that... I'm really good at making strangers laugh. Cashiers, servers, anyone I have to interact with casually. Why? Because people terrify me. The presumed awful judgement that clouds your air because of social anxiety used to stop me from going out the door; but it's easier now because I can make people laugh or at least smile, so each interaction is less terrifying.
If they're laughing with me, they're not laughing at me.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:10 PM on August 28 [24 favorites]


The Dana Gould piece is a good read and put into words some suspicions I've had about people I know who have been comedians or identified as comedians.

It left me wondering, though, whether comedy as a career path is likely to encourage the bad thinking that goes along with the good, and whether the initial impulse to comedy you have as a kid is a response you have to a situation where your needs aren't being met and from which you can't escape, and how much of comedy seems to be about playing with different aspects of these sorts of situations. The worst comedians take on the role of the bully, while the best, like Robin Williams in that Rolling Stone quote, can point out to their audience that it's got some shit on its face in a way that leaves it appreciative.
posted by alphanerd at 8:29 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Non-comedians — or as we call them, "civilians" — are always surprised

I don't mind the "sad clown" stuff that comedians never ever shut up about stuff but what's really obnoxious is the "nobody knows our pain!" that always gets tacked on. This is why I can't listen to comedians' podcasts anymore. They're always incredibly depressing, AND patronizing. Depressing is ok I guess, not my preferred content to consume, but just stop acting like it's this terrible secret.

Also what is it with websites disabling the mobile browser chrome so I can't get to any other page? Do they think this is cute? It seems more native-app-like, and that's "cool"? And that's a good reason? This is why user experience designers cry in their Cheerios. And nobody knows our secret tears! Mourn for my tragic but necessary profession!
posted by bleep at 8:32 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


What a wonderfully insightful article.

But that last paragraph was like a punch to the gut. 'Searingly honest' doesn't even come close.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:33 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I lied when I said I don't care about the tears of the clown stuff. I do mind. Comedians aren't the only people who are smart and funny and think about stuff and get sad. Sick of their collective self-worship.
posted by bleep at 8:34 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


The Horace Walpole quote that "Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel" errs only in that it invites one to see it as a dichotomy. Whereas in fact you're usually talking about the same person.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:38 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]


bleep... it is perhaps slightly tone deaf to talk about your perceived notion of 'collective self worship' amongst comedians, and complain about them discussing their pain, when we are discussing an article that is about comedians committing suicide. It seems misplaced, you know?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:44 PM on August 28 [31 favorites]


Hey Bleep, nobody is forcing comedians on you.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 8:45 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I am!

*pushes a sweaty bearded comedian into bleep's personal space*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:49 PM on August 28 [21 favorites]


Sick of their collective self-worship.

Irony: they are, too! At least they're doing something about it. Usually suicide. But, hey, take what we can get, right?

Good. Fucking. Christ.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:59 PM on August 28 [12 favorites]


There is no good Oki-Dog at STL in terminal four.

There is no terminal 4 at St Louis International.
posted by eriko at 9:03 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


And right after that, a giant ad covered the text. So, you know what?

1) I am not finishing this article.
2) I am never visiting that website again, because that website's name now resolves to 127.0.0.1.

It's a shame. There might have been a good article there.
posted by eriko at 9:06 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


There is a good article there. One that highlights, in a very visceral way, exactly how and why depression is so misunderstood.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:08 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


There was a great comedy series hosted by the great Colin Quinn in the early 2000s called Tough Crowd. He would have 4 comedians as guests and would moderate a discussion on various topics. I'm making it sound duller than it was, because it was fantastic. (Google TCWCQ to find episodes and segments online.)

Quinn often made the point that comedians were people who told the truth. They weren't necessarily right, but they forthrightly put forward their truth -- and the best of them didn't give a shit about PC niceties and what other people thought.

That's got to be a tough thing, too. Being that open all the time. It's like walking around naked.
posted by anothermug at 9:10 PM on August 28 [9 favorites]


Everyone's a critic. I think the one thing comedians (and artists and authors, which aren't mutually exclusive professions, by the way) have in common is that being thoughtful is in the job requirements for a successful career. Being considerate is a bonus, but Dana Gould makes a good point about taking something well thought-out and making it appear to flow naturally and spontaneously.

That's probably why so many comedians do improv at some point. It's also why I think even comedians with extremely different styles like George Carlin and Mitch Hedberg are so equally irreplaceable.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 9:15 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


You know who else worshipped themselves and committed suicide? Those things aren't incompatible, just as you might find the article in the FPP incredibly helpful and insightful while other people might have lost patience with comedians.
posted by uosuaq at 9:28 PM on August 28


Sure, losing patience with comedians is valid. But to express it in such a way, in this specific context, is more or less 'your favourite band sucks.'

And it also demonstrates, unfortunately, why those of us with severe depression often have such difficulty with support; our experiences are erased, minimized, belittled. We're told to just cheer up. We're told that it's just being sad, everybody gets sad.

There is an odd link, it seems, between creativity and depression. Comedians may not be unique in this regard, but the very nature of their job seems to throw it into rather starker relief than you see in other professions; they make people laugh while so many are tortured on the inside. Which I think does, to an extent, make some specifics of their situations unique. Imagine how terrible it is to suffer terrible depression anyway. Now imagine the weight of having to go out on stage every night and make people laugh while you're feeling so awful inside. It has to wear you down. Depression wears everyone down, of course, but most of us don't have the added task of not only pretending everything's okay, but having to do so in such an aggressive manner.

We've had recent discussions around here about what depression 'is,' how it manifests, and how differently it manifests for different people. But I think we can all agree on what depression does: it eats at you, it grinds you down, it crushes you slowly. And for many of us, that ends up pushing us to suicide just to make it all stop.

Maybe it's not a big secret that many, many comedians are also battling demons. But I think perhaps it's not quite such widespread knowledge as some may believe. And even if it is, the more we talk about depression openly and honestly, the more we can reduce stigma around it and maybe--God willing--actually start addressing the problem in a systemic way, instead of waiting until people are in crisis.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:44 PM on August 28 [16 favorites]


So this is why the deadly serious assholes live to a ripe old age.
posted by telstar at 11:17 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Gould does a ridiculously well-produced podcast -- The Dana Gould Hour. He and his guests talk about being comedians, things they love, Ed Wood, Planet of the Apes, holidays, the Beach Boys, and some serious shit.

Plus, the most recent episode has Gould doing a duet between William Shatner and Adam West!

(I personally would give the episode before that a miss, not only is it way more Eddie Pepitone than I can deal with even on a good day, they spend far too much time navel-gazing about how they should be able to say anything they want. I submit that while they can say these things, maybe they need to think about whether they should.)

I'm pretty sure this is the podcast where I first heard the theory that some people become comedians so they are the ones in charge of when people laugh at them.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:19 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


It never really occurred to me what a rare bird George Carlin was: the smart, prolific comedian who died of old age.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:43 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Carlin died of heart problems, but he had his first heart attack at 41. I wouldn't say he died of old age.
posted by gingerest at 1:59 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


DevilsAdvocate mentioned this in the Robin Williams obit thread, but it's worth mentioning again in this "sad clown" thread.
posted by chavenet at 2:24 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure about this, I think I might agree with bleep. As I was reading the main article it made me think that maybe I've got something in common with the comedians, I've spent the last few weeks feeling down about my job and wondering what to do with myself and sitting around listening to the same few depressing songs on a loop. But then when I interact with people, I pull out every social decoy I can because who wants to listen to some entitled white dude moaning about middle class malaise when kids are dying in Gaza...

But then I realised fuck that, that's completely backwards. The point is that comedians are people too, and everyone has their own shit to deal with, and their own coping strategies. I'm not trying to minimise any of these peoples experiences, if anything, the opposite's true, but all of these articles come across as clumsy attempts to claim that them and their own have a privileged viewpoint on suffering. Every man thinketh his burden is the heaviest, I'm sure that that's true, and I'm sure all of these comedians who committed suicide suffered a great deal, but then I'm sure anyone who committed suicide suffered a great deal, and I feel that it comes across as disrespectful to claim that there's any meaningful difference between them.
posted by Ned G at 3:30 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


There are two people in my life who I think of as 'wits' with their verbal skill. Neither was vicious or mean, and they both killed themselves.

One was my fathers best friend, and he apparently had chronic back pain. The other, Jim Cakora, a friend of my heart. He was the one who went in his fathers den and found him, and the shotgun. When he found his lovely and talented girlfriend was banging her cocaine dealer, he stuck his head into a gas stove.

I loved, still love, that man, Jim Cakora.

Snark all your fuck.
posted by dragonsi55 at 4:23 AM on August 29 [5 favorites]


Now imagine the weight of having to go out on stage every night and make people laugh while you're feeling so awful inside. It has to wear you down.

I'm not a comedian, but when I can make people around me laugh at this absurd world, it's like a breath of air, and when the darkness closes again over my head the memory of these moments in the sun helps me keep treading the water - while making my everyday misery even harder to bear. It's a bit like substance abuse in that you feel better for a moment, then pay for it for a lifetime, because yes, it's difficult for many to understand that someone can be funny and sad at the same time. So you feel even more isolated. And then I preview and think, fuck, why bother, and then I think, no, that's exactly the reason not to keep silent.
That's what these articles are to me: an attempt to tell people that you can be funny and succesfull and dying inside. I don't see the more than anyone else part.
posted by hat_eater at 4:23 AM on August 29 [7 favorites]


I mean, I identify with the "anxiety and overthinking" stuff too, and I'm not a comedian or even very funny. But the article didn't leave me thinking, "Comedians think they're so special. Don't they realize the rest of us deal with this crap too?"

It left me thinking, "Really? Even these likable, smart, successful famous people feel this way? Well then clearly it's possible to feel this way and not be a total loser after all."
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:24 AM on August 29 [21 favorites]


I am not saying this in a judgy way at all, but it's important to note that suicidal behavior is comorbid with overuse of drugs and alcohol, which is a common affliction among comedians. I learned about the comorbidity when I trained with Samaritans; the last bit, well, I listen to Marc Maron a lot.

Take away the mind or mood altering substances and you often have an overthinker who can be fairly unhappy, but who's less likely to take their own life than they would be if they were on something. So if the overthinky, anxious, or depressed person gets help with their drinking or drugging they have a much better shot at staying alive across the board.

Interestingly enough, I think I've heard of more comedians having long-term sobriety than just about any other type of performing artist. Maron is among those. Again, this is anecdotal and just my observation. So there's a bit of a bright side.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 4:43 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


The assumption that Williams was dogged by depression and it finally consumed him is not entirely supported by evidence. He had just received a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. It's entirely possible that he was escaping the burning building of his body, not his mind. We just don't know.

As regards Eddie Murphy, I remember the (trés gay) film critic David Ehrenstein's comment: "Murphy's homophobic comments never bothered me so much, because he was so obviously closeted that I just felt sorry for him."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:10 AM on August 29 [6 favorites]


How about a funny story about comedians and suicide?

A friend of mine is a comedian and MC in Edinburgh. She was - is, as far as I know - part of an outreach programme, where a group of comedians tour rural Scottish communities to put on shows and talk about depression and suicide. Big problems out there too: it's a tough life and if you're poor, which most people there are, there are few options and plenty of problems. Comedy is a great way to deal with tricky subjects, perhaps the best.

Anyway. Just before one of these trips, they realised that nobody had hired the minibus needed for the whole endeavour. My friend, being resourceful, determined and impossible to deny, decided that nae probs, they'd borrow the minibus owned by the stand-up comedy club she was currently MC'ing for. This was done, and off they set.

It was only when they were half-way through the tour, between venues, that she realised that the vehicle had the venue's logo painted on the side.

The venue is called The Stand, and this is the logo.

They parked the minibus out of sight thereafter.
posted by Devonian at 6:36 AM on August 29 [8 favorites]


After recovering from Dana Gould's essay, I reflected a bit on this
How to deal with this free-floating and oft-visiting, inexplicable panic? I became talkative, in general, and funny in particular. After all, if you're going to run your mouth all day, you should at least be entertaining. Like many comedians, I put my nightmare machine of a brain to work in a creative capacity. Being funny allowed me to contextualize my anxiety and, also, allowed me a little relief from it.
I just realized that I've "contextualized my anxiety" through a career in programming, starting long ago doing a database for QA records, and a long time in finance doing a lot of audit and compliance. The 'nightmare factory' is put to work analyzing risk and exposure, and as long as you follow the book, all is right in the world and I can RELAX.
posted by mikelieman at 6:57 AM on August 29 [5 favorites]


I wonder if "professional comedian" is a bad career path for someone with clinical depression.

Comedians face rejection and failure no matter how much success they've had before (Williams' Sarah Michelle Gellar sitcom was critically panned and quickly canceled). They alternate furious overwork with idleness that can go on for months and sometimes has no known end point. Lots of travel, lots of late nights, lots of booze and drugs (or at least unescapably being around them).
posted by MattD at 7:32 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


I don't see the more than anyone else part.

I may have been unclear in what I said; it was late, insomnia sucks, etc. I didn't mean to imply comedians have it worse than anyone else, I was trying to convey that by the nature of what they do, the way depression hits them is pretty unique, I think.

and I feel that it comes across as disrespectful to claim that there's any meaningful difference between them.

As a suicidal person, I don't think it's disrespectful at all. YMMV, I guess, but where you see 'privileged' I see 'unique.'
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:48 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Why is nobody allowed to say they have a unique view on things because of their life experiences, background and role in society anymore? Why do so many people seem to only hear that as "look at me! I'm more special than you!"

I'll tell you why. Because US culture has a serious identity crisis going right now and many people are hypersensitive and defensive about who they are to an unhealthy degree. Someone else claiming to have a unique perspective and describing their experiences from that perspective is not elitism, it's honesty, because no matter how much we all may seem to be nothing special objectively, when it comes to the subjective experience, everyone really is uniquely best qualified to describe their own, and that drives some people nuts.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 AM on August 29 [20 favorites]


I've re-read the article, and my comment on it, and I'm conflicted on whether I still agree with myself. First of all my comment does come across as shitty, so sorry about that.

I think that there are two ways of reading the article, there's this - "Really? Even these likeable, smart, successful famous people feel this way? Well then clearly it's possible to feel this way and not be a total loser after all." - And if that's the case, good, it was a nicely written article, and it had some nice, insightful pieces.

However, some bits of it come across as cliquey, there's this bit for example:
We try our hardest, every day, to masquerade as a normal person. A civilian.
Which, to me (especially after a few paragraphs explaining how comedians are really good at pondering things) seems to have the subtext 'unlike you non-comedian people, our lives are difficult and you don't understand our struggle'. Maybe that's an overly uncharitable reading of the piece, and as I said, I'm not sure if I agree with that reading of it, but that's what I objected to when I read it this morning.


Why is nobody allowed to say they have a unique view on things because of their life experiences, background and role in society anymore? Why do so many people seem to only hear that as "look at me! I'm more special than you!"

I'm not denying that people are allowed to have unique experiences, that would be ridiculous. What I was saying is that the article has set up this comedians/not comedians dichotomy, and I'm unsure if that's a productive way of extrapolating from his unique experiences.
posted by Ned G at 9:24 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


What I was saying is that the article has set up this comedians/not comedians dichotomy, and I'm unsure if that's a productive way of extrapolating from his unique experiences.

I see. But if someone's trying to describe their experience from whatever unique position they hold in society, don't they kind of have to set up that dichotomy at some level? I just took those parts to mean "from the POV of a comedian as opposed to a noncomedian"--that difference is, after all, the thing that makes it possible to even share an experience from this particular POV. The people describing their experiences in this case are saying they view their roles as comedians putting them into an extraordinary relationship with issues like depression and suicide because such a major part of their role in society is making others laugh and feel happy. They're probably right about that. Most people's lives are not so singlemindedly absorbed with those concerns. Comedians as a group really do stand in a different relationship to depression than others who don't have lives and careers centered so completely on making other people laugh. Nothing wrong with saying that.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:11 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


We try our hardest, every day, to masquerade as a normal person. A civilian.

It seems to me that many professions which have a certain esprit de corps about them, a bond--that you'll find among, say, comedians or chefs or musicians but probably not quite so much accountants--refer to non-$profession as 'civilians.'

So I don't think it's setting up a dichotomy so much as it is saying there is a collective experience of depression within the profession that is unique compared to those outside it, because of reasons specifically related to that profession.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:15 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]


(In kind of the same way that, say, dancers have a unique experience of leg injuries that the rest of the public doesn't, really.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:17 AM on August 29


Er... on reflection that wasn't clear. I didn't mean injuries as a result of dancing, I mean that if I sprain my ankle and a dancer sprains their ankle, the pain may well be identical but the effects aren't.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:28 AM on August 29


I say this with all sincerity - I am making a tee-shirt quoting "Being funny is not the same as being happy." As a funny person with deep depression, this is something I "need" to have friends, family, co-workers, significant others understand. It's something they easily forget.
posted by Lil Bit of Pepper at 11:03 AM on August 29 [5 favorites]


So totally agree that being funny is not the same as being happy.

In my family and with many of my friends, being funny is how you communicate or else you won't be heard, no matter how dire the situation. It can be pretty shocking to some people.

I know that the first time I was in therapy, joking about a bunch of things, the therapist looked at me very seriously and said, it's not really funny, is it? I never went back! Decades later I found someone who is honestly funny enough to be a stand-up comedian herself, and I feel I can say anything.
posted by maggiemaggie at 11:13 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Ned G wrote:
I'm not denying that people are allowed to have unique experiences, that would be ridiculous. What I was saying is that the article has set up this comedians/not comedians dichotomy, and I'm unsure if that's a productive way of extrapolating from his unique experiences.

We have to remember that this is a guy who just lost a friend to suicide. He's looking back for clues and probably disappointed that he didn't notice them because he got sucked in to Robin's happy go lucky mask no different than a "civilian".
posted by any major dude at 12:31 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Talk about beanplating, it's not as if no other profession in the world refers to those not in it as "civilians."
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:13 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


Holy christ, I just listened to Marc Maron's interview with Williams. The "fuck life" section (55:40) is both amazing in the moment and chilling in retrospect.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:56 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


I'm not denying that people are allowed to have unique experiences, that would be ridiculous. What I was saying is that the article has set up this comedians/not comedians dichotomy, and I'm unsure if that's a productive way of extrapolating from his unique experiences.


This is one of those things that really disturbs me about the annoying gap between levels of education and levels of thought. Whenever a dichotomy or division of any kind is presented in any way in any particular piece of discourse some people immediately latch onto the Master/Slave or Self/Other mode of thought that so faithfully provided us with material for the endless "reaction papers" of undergrad.

So here again we see that well honed instinct when the writer of this piece dares to separate humanity into two separate groups, comedians and non-comedians. And, even more predictably, we lose sight of the discourse itself because someone didn't cotton to the idea of, in any way whatsoever, being categorized as the dreaded OTHER. It's the intellectualized equivalent of, "You're not the boss of me!"

It's a well-worn way to shut down an argument presented by an entity who is not present and can neither react nor refine their point. And it gets used far too often after college and here on Metafilter.

I think Dana Gould was seeking to illuminate for (the dreaded OTHER) people in the world who are less likely to share his particular experiences that shock was not something he felt in regard to the death of Robin Williams. His exposure to the idea of comedians committing suicide created within him a void where the shock should be and engendered within him a sense of otherness. He wasn't feeling the emotion which the rest of the society to which he belongs was presumably feeling. And he sought to explain it the way humans do. He was seeking to understand and explain his own otherness, not demonstrate the existence of anyone else's otherness.

More plainly, he wasn't saying you weren't allowed in his tree fort.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 8:59 AM on August 30 [7 favorites]


As a Licensed Psychotherapist and Professional Mental Health Interventionist who has worked all over the country with individuals and families battling severe symptoms of mental illness, I have had to face my own personal underlying issues head on, on a regular basis. And similar to the old Dry Idea antiperspirant commercial, I have to be able to get it done without any back-up, leading the charge to recovery, safely delivering an individual in crisis to a mental health treatment center without letting anyone see me sweat, when deep within my own internal reality I may be emotionally drenched.

Like most people, I was shocked to hear that Robin Williams had committed suicide. At the same time, I can understand how incorrect perception can be. Robin Williams was an incredible comedian and comedic actor, and apparently a good friend to many. And to his close friends and family, I am sorry for your loss. I will miss him in my own way. Rest in peace.
posted by careplanpro at 9:49 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


...comedians were people who told the truth. They weren't necessarily right, but they forthrightly put forward their truth -- and the best of them didn't give a shit about PC niceties and what other people thought

"didn't give a shit about PC niceties" has often been indistinguishable from "said hateful things about other people and groups for a laugh." The idea that such yuks are somehow necessary for the survival of Almighty Truth is one promoted by people surprised and disappointed that they can't say hateful things with impunity.
posted by Mapes at 10:35 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


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