The Uneasy Relationship Between Mental Illness and Comedy
December 14, 2012 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Marking to read later. I was considering a post about Maria Bamford, who struggles with related issues and talks about them in her act. Her latest is the Special Special Special, another one of those $5 deals and well worth it! (I don't know her personally, I just love her!)
posted by Glinn at 10:26 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

Squee! I love this post! Paul Gilmartin's podcast is one of my favorite things ever. It's oddly uplifting considering just how many juvenile and inappropriate dick jokes if contains. Comedians are just so raw and articulate about their struggles.

It creates this atmosphere where everybody is talking frankly about mental health. If you can't listen to a podcast at work then check out his listener surveys. I'd recommend looking at the results of the shame and secrets one.

Failing at linking from my phone, sorry. The idea that you have to be mentally ill to be creative is such a destructive meme. Even outside of comedy.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:34 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Good article. I used to have the same discussion over and over again about poetry in grad school. Eventually I decided that even if mental illness makes some poets great, I'd rather be happy. And so far I rarely regret that choice, most of the time.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2012

Is this really limited to comedy? In all fields of human endevour we see the same pattern: smart but neurotic weirdos get the ball rolling and eventually they hand over the reigns to the more balanced but less talented. I mean, this is startup culture in a nutshell. All founders of new startups are weirdos who blaze trails, sell out, and go to their next adventure. The company is then put in a holding pattern doing the same thing the founder envisioned.

Or franchise writing/Hollywood/TV. You get a creator full of quirks and difficult to work with (hello Dan Harmon) and he makes a couple of seasons/movies that are amazing then he takes off and in-house talent tries to replicate his formula without the same success. Sometimes this is the same guy. The George Lucas of the 1970s simply grew into the George Lucas of the 1990s with obvious differences in output. I wonder if Lucas was put on meds sometime between then or if he just grew into an older, less hungry person. Regardless I still love him.

Neuroticism vs creativity/smarts/whatever is a main theme in my life. I've been off meds for a long time and instead quaff down fish oil and cut out stimulants to help me out. On meds, I lose a certain something and unless I REALLY need meds I don't want them. I don't care if someone thinks this isn't the way to do things, but this is how I choose to live and its working out well enough, thanks. Being normal sucks.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:00 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Wish Mitch had managed to get clean.
posted by jfuller at 11:59 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Richard Pryor did it the best when he lit a match and made it move and said "guess what this is?"

Richard Pryor running down the street on fire.

You have to be pretty disturbed and distraught to light yourself on fire.
posted by stormpooper at 12:48 PM on December 14, 2012

The connection between mental struggle and creativity has always fascinated me. I'm no comedian, but I've always been sort of a clown who enjoys getting a laugh. I'm not a serious artist, but I enjoy artistic pursuits. It's strange how the different moods and life situations I've struggled with affect both my creative output and my ability to get a laugh out of people. There is something in that place I inhabit, right between the ups and downs, that alters my perspective and leads my thoughts into unexpected places. It's sort of a sweet spot, where there are more possibilities and ideas.
posted by orme at 1:27 PM on December 14, 2012

+1 on Special special special It is one of the greatest monologues I have ever seen. Mariah Bamford will make you feel awkward, surprised, sad and confused from one second to the next while all the while you are laughing your ass off.

Glinn, wanna post it or shall I? I didn't know it had come out since these are the type of things I've grown accustomed to learn about from mefi.
posted by macrometa at 2:18 PM on December 14, 2012

Tina Fey said once on the Howard Stern Show that she was glad she was already married to her husband when she started at SNL because she thought the idea of dating someone like Colin Quinn was awful. Something about how she said it or what she said later was that dateable comedians are slim pickings.
posted by discopolo at 2:36 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

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