You ever have that funny friend, the class-clown type, who one day just stopped being funny around you? Did it make you think they were depressed? Because it's far more likely that, in reality, that was the first time they were comfortable enough around you to drop the act.
The ones who kill themselves, well, they're funny right up to the end.
By now you know that Robin Williams has committed suicide, but I'm not here to talk about him. He's gone, and you're still here, and suicidal thoughts are so common among our readers and writers that our message board has a hidden section where moderators can coordinate responses to suicide threats. And in case you're wondering, no, that's not a joke -- I remember the first time John tracked down a guy's location and got an ambulance dispatched to his house. Then we all sat there, at 4 in the morning, waiting to hear if they got there in time (they did).
Because Cracked is driven by an army of aspiring comedy writer freelancers, the message boards are full of a certain personality type. And while I don't know what percentage of funny people suffer from depression, from a rough survey of the ones I know and work with, I'd say it's approximately "all of them." So when I hear some naive soul say, "Wow, how could a wacky guy like [insert famous dead comedian here] just [insert method of early self-destruction here]? He was always joking around and having a great time!" my only response is a blank stare.
That's honestly the equivalent of "How can that cow be dead? She had to be healthy, because these hamburgers we made from her are delicious!"
In lieu of comedy in this piece, please accept these humorous animated gifs.
So I don't know Robin Williams' situation, and I don't need to -- I can go scoop up an armload of examples without leaving my chair. As one of the head guys at Cracked, I'm surrounded by literally hundreds of comedy writers, and I inhabit the body of one. Kristi Harrison recently wrote about the psychological dark side of being funny, and was speaking from experience. Or, here's John Cheese talking about his recent adventures on antidepressants. Here's Mark Hill on his depression, here's Dan O'Brien on his social anxiety, here's Tom Reimann on his, and here's C. Coville on the same. Here's Mara Wilson on having an anxiety disorder, here's Felix Clay on regret, here's Gladstone on emotional trauma, and Adam Brown on almost dying from cough syrup addiction. Those are just the ones off the top of my head. You get the idea.
Now do you want me to tell you how many messages/comments/emails we get from fans telling a writer to "kill yourself" because said writer wrote a joke they didn't like? When I ban them, they always act confused as to why.