We are learning that a career as a comedian can be just as dangerous as that of a football player, and just as football players are screened for concussions, perhaps comedians should be screened for depression.
We all know happy comedians such as Lucile Ball who seem to be saying, “Entertaining you makes me happy as well,” but also others, such as Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams, who seem to be saying, “Stand back with me, and share my misanthropic, ridiculing view of humanity.”
I liked Robin Williams’ characters, but I was disturbed by his interviews. He could not turn off his stage image, as if he was afraid that was the only way you would accept him. The interviewer was always delighted to get a free performance and happily played into it.
As TV viewers began to feel a little queasy at watching healthy, adult football players scramble their brains for the public’s amusement, now we are feeling queasy watching comedians act out their depression. Even when the depression does not lead to death, it doesn’t seem so funny, anymore. Perhaps Robin Williams will become a watershed in public awareness.