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BREAKING: Stand-Up Comedians Are Crazy

You don't have to be crazy to tell jokes for a living, but it helps. Or does it?

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

January 24, 2014 - 9:00 am
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Splitsider — a website by and for stand-up comics — called it “one of the most obvious findings ever”:

…a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry has confirmed that comedians possess more psychotic characteristics compared to their non-comedian peers. The researchers asked 523 comedians from Australia, Britain, and the U.S. to complete an online questionnaire designed to measure levels of four psychotic traits — “unusual experiences,” “cognitive disorganization,” “introvertive anhedonia,” and “impulsive non-conformity.” Unsurprisingly, the comedians ranked high in their levels of all four psychotic behavior indicators.

“The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis – both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” said Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford’s department of experimental psychology, who led the study.

Although the traits in question are known as “psychotic”, Claridge said, they can also represent healthy equivalents of features such as moodiness, social introversion and the tendency to lateral thinking.

“Although schizophrenic psychosis itself can be detrimental to humor, in its lesser form it can increase people’s ability to associate odd or unusual things or to think ‘outside the box’,” he said.

“Equally, manic thinking – which is common in people with bipolar disorder – may help people combine ideas to form new, original and humorous connections.”

Say, did you know the working title for Woody Allen’s Annie Hall was Anhedonia?

So there’s that.

And there’s an entire — highly recommended — podcast devoted solely to mental illness and stand-up comedians.

(And I’m not talking about Marc Maron’s WTF. Although I could be, because man, oh man, have you ever listened to that thing?)

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Top Rated Comments   
Ever since I was a teenager, I have never liked stand-up comedians. I could enjoy the old vaudevillian types, but even as a kid, long before I knew what left- and right-wing meant, I understood implicitly where comedians were coming from even if I couldn't verbalize it. As I grew older, I finally could. As a kid, they reminded me of the ill-tempered and lazy class clowns that wanted attention and accolade without effort and would destroy a whole day's worth of classroom time if they didn't get it; and as an adult, I realize they're a bunch of angry, left-wing ideologues, monsters of ego who instantly assume that anybody who doesn't laugh or concur with them are morons to be humiliated out of existence. They're angry men with small peckers who are obsessed with drugs and leftish politics. I won't watch them.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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A very high percentage of them are angry, not crazy; which also aligns with so many being liberal. For whatever reason, they feel cheated by life, and since almost every joke is in one way or another ridiculing a foible in other people, comedy has a natural attraction for clever people who are also angry at the hand life has dealt to them.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have less trouble with the ones who are all around angry, which puts them more in the libertarian bent. The annoying ones are the angry liberals, who feel free to go after the things they hate and consider themselves too 'edgy' for the rubes, but then proceed to get outrageously outraged and find nothing funny at all when the left's pet causes and failed efforts are lampooned (if anything, its even more annoying than Jon Stewart's "Clown Nose On/Off" routine, since the angry liberal comedians love to claim they're speaking Truth to Power no matter what the topic, but have nothing to say about how the Power in Washington or some of the Blue states is working these days)
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Take some comfort in knowing that Stewart, no matter how successful he becomes, will always resent being a teeny dweeb. He's a classic example of the clever guy with a lifelong grudge.

btw, I'm not necessarily knocking it as an artistic impetus. Steward, and others, can be funny as hell. But, like Letterman, he'll still be angry when he's 70 years old. And if Stewart doesn't control himself, he might become as unfunny as Letterman has become.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
As Letterman's gotten older he's gotten more into pop politics of the type that thinks inviting Keith Olbermann on his show represents availing his audience of sharp political acumen (Back in '99, Dave had James Carville on and eviscerated him when he tried to claim the entire Lewinsky scandal was made up by the Republicans. That Letterman who had something of a BS detector for both sides of the political spectrum started to vanish in the wake of the 2000 election, and after a brief return to sanity after 9/11, disappeared for good in the run-up to the 2004 election).
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is a supposed to be a true story: In the early days of psychoanalysis a patient came to an analyst suffering from severe depression. He just couldn't get out of his black mood. They talked about his problem and then, at the end of the session, the analyst suggested, "A bit of humor would help cheer you up. The famous comic Grimaldi is appearing in town tonight, why don't you go see him?" The patient replied, "I AM Grimaldi."
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Richard Jeni. He was funnier than a bag of badgers, but the psychotic baggage he carried became overwhelming.

Its a fine line, isn't it?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
For some time now it's been common to realign the differences we all have one from the other into some type of psycho classification. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If I'm sitting calm in my apt. and some folks come over and I'm suddenly enthusiastic and boisterous is that a manic episode?

People do all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons. As long as they're not being pretty hateful or criminal I don't care. I like variety in people.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I like variety in people". Me too. However, some of the "varieties", are more trying than others & that isn't funny.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not sure that the comics of old would fit the definition of psychotic, but a lot of what passes for standup comedy over the last fifteen or so years certainly meets the criteria for a DSM diagnosis. A lot of shouting, profanity, and unbridled disdain for everything and everyone.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ever since I was a teenager, I have never liked stand-up comedians. I could enjoy the old vaudevillian types, but even as a kid, long before I knew what left- and right-wing meant, I understood implicitly where comedians were coming from even if I couldn't verbalize it. As I grew older, I finally could. As a kid, they reminded me of the ill-tempered and lazy class clowns that wanted attention and accolade without effort and would destroy a whole day's worth of classroom time if they didn't get it; and as an adult, I realize they're a bunch of angry, left-wing ideologues, monsters of ego who instantly assume that anybody who doesn't laugh or concur with them are morons to be humiliated out of existence. They're angry men with small peckers who are obsessed with drugs and leftish politics. I won't watch them.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
So even as a kid you knew they were small in the pants?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh Jeeze, are you a class clown too?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Still doesn't explain why many 'comedians' demonstrate a lack of humour.

Cheers
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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