When The Laughter Stops

Picture courtesy of rollingstone.com
Picture of John Belushi courtesy of rollingstone.com

Robin Williams death by his own hands tells us all that we fight a constant ongoing emotional battle within ourselves that no one can see. He was one of the funniest men in the world and like everybody else, I was shocked. He was suffering from a rare form of dementia and was slowly  losing his mind and that’s the reason he chose to go out on his own terms. Some say that he shouldn’t have  taken his own life but I say this, he gave us all his heart and soul in everything he did and we should be honored to have enjoyed his genius. We should also support his wish to die with dignity as we owe him that much. The tears of a clown, no one see’s them except the lonely mirrors on the wall, and when the clown dies, everyone just can’t seem to figure out why. “He had all the fame and money one could ever want, and at the red carpet parties, he had everyone in stiches with his humor, how could he take his own life?” If you do some research, you will find that comedians are similar to a light bulb in that they shine their brightest before the light goes out. There is always an underlying cause to their meltdowns, one which shows its ugly face when the curtain comes down and the show is over. Then booze, pills, cocaine, and heroin become the cheering sections.

The struggle to reach the top is pressure enough for an up and coming young comic, but to do it with emotional issues combined with drug abuse, and the task of trying to live sober everyday becomes a monumental challenge because the truth is, reality bites. We have all enjoyed the “Not Ready For Primetime Players” better known as the players of “Saturday Night Live”, and a lot of now famous comic movie stars cut their teeth on SNL such as Chevy Chase and Eddie Murphy and they made the transition from television to movies with great success. But sadly there were those who met tragic deaths after making it big. Some believe that there was some kind of a curse on the duly departed former comic players of the still popular variety show. A curse is a little bit far-fetched, but the show has had its fair share of alumni deaths which only confirms the non-scientific study that being funny on the outside sometimes hides a slow death on the inside. If you want to call finally making it to the world of notiriety and fame a curse you may be right in a round about way. With fame comes fortune, more money, more toys, and sadly better drugs.

John Belushi was one of the founding members of the NRFPTP’s and was a very funny stand-up comic who’s breakout role in the movie “Animal House” earned him the popularity he so yearned. After bringing a Saturday Night skit, “The Blues Brothers” to the big screen, he became even more popular. With popularity comes more money and more drugs. He ovedosed doing what is known as “speed-balls”, a lethal mix of heroin and cocaine, and he was only 33 years old. When John was doing SNL he was admired by a young comic who wanted to be just like him. Chris Farley was the comic who took the spot John had left open on SNL and he too became a success and graduated to the movies also with his breakout hit “Black Sheep”. And as if following a tragic script, Chris Farley was also found dead from the same mix of cocaine and heroin. He was also 33. You could say that they found fame and fortune but realized that it didn’t equate to happiness, and the demons that chased them through life only got bigger and required more “medicine” to escape.

The art of self medication to battle the hidden demons within is a long and time tested failure. When inner peace is still not within reach increasing the dosage is an easy choice. But the effort to stop the inner pain also means throwing away all fail-safes. It requires a delicate balancing act between life and death on the edge of a razor blade. Cocaine seems to be the drug of choice to start with, but after a while it is decided that something more is needed. Mix it with heroin and the pain is cloaked a little longer but the side effect is that the pleasure centers of the brain is very fond of this new sensation and you are obliged to provide more.  And when you’re alone with no one there to regulate your drug intake, you hold your life in your own hands. If you’ve ever noticed, most of the people who die of overdoses are always alone when they’re found.

After all the news stories and the well documented deaths of famous people there are those who are still infected with the dreaded “not me” disease and they continue to overdose and join the ranks of the here today gone tomorrow crowd. Heroin deaths among the not so famous has increased by leaps and bounds and now we realize that being rich and famous is no barrier to the demons that lurk inside, demons that are so powerful they can make you funny on the outside, while they’re killing your soul on the inside.