Thursday, August 28, 2014


Robin Williams died last week. It wasn’t an accident. Nor disease. It was his mysterious choice, and it broke America’s heart.

Arguably the best comedian we’ve ever loved, the well has gone dry, the laughter turned to tears—only questions remain. Facebook is full of his funniest moments, all of us grasping one more second of a life evaporated. Gone too soon.
We “are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”*
Everyone thinks depression got the best of Robin. I’m not an expert on the subject, though probably just like you, I’ve experienced it.  It’s miserable. What is ironic to me is how many funny people are deeply wounded human beings, harboring sadness within. Still, we love the self-deprecating humor comedians have spent a lifetime honing. We cheer on the honest and obviously flawed person who lets us laugh at his shortcomings.
Better him in the spotlight than us.
Laughter happens when we identify with a comedian's story. That’s what makes a good comic—connecting with the audience. And laughter is good for the soul. “A cheerful heart is good medicine,” a wise man said, “but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” **
So I wonder—does it ever surprise you to think that the very funny person standing in front of you uses humor to cope with his pain?
I can be funny. I love being funny. I love it when somebody gets my joke and rewards me with outright laughter. Compliments are nice, too, and a few times I’ve won Toastmaster awards for telling hilarious stories. The truth is, though, that whether my writing and speaking brings a tear or a chuckle, the source of my anecdote is often something painful.
And that’s the other irony.
There’s a richness that flows from a melancholy heart. Beauty from ashes, some say. And even when someone dares to reveal a deep hurt, there comes a point where you have to make a joke about it or you'd be crushed in the telling. Laughter lightens the atmosphere and gives us hope that we’ll smile again on the inside.
If only someone had been there last week to make Robin laugh. Or maybe to let him cry. How I wish there could be a happier ending.
It’s so hard when the curtain falls on a tragedy. 

*James 4:14

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