When feeling blue, we often opt for options where simple pleasure can come in handy, like binge-watching our favorite sitcoms, or revisiting an old comedy play that never failed to redraw the smiles on our faces every single time we re-watch them. However, the comedians who embody these happy characters in scenes using their brush of humor to color our worlds a bit, can sometimes fail to use their brushes to color their own worlds. And so, as years pass we continue to find out about comedians who cracked audiences up, yet were grief-stricken knowing they couldn’t find happiness themselves sometimes. Nevertheless, we still can’t put our fingers on why exactly comedians’ hearts can sometimes be a fertile ground for emotional paradox.
Weeks have passed since the beloved renowned actor and comedian Samir Ghanem passed away. Yet, social media is still cluttered with Ghanem’s family content, with old interviews of the late actor, and rare footage of him and his daughters making their way to our news feed. Amongst all the overly shared content that left us emotional, one specific interview was brought to our attention. One where the superstar’s wife and beautiful actress Dalal AbdelAziz was talking during an old interview about a side of Samir Ghanem we never knew existed. Despite the laughters and spontaneous jokes constantly made in public that art critiques swear by, she explained that he can sometimes go through serious depression in private.
Yes, even Samir Ghanem, the king of comedy felt blue at times. And upon knowing so, this begged the question we’re here to discuss. Why are comedian actors and actresses the ones vulnerable to depression the most? Because you know what, Samir Ghanem isn’t the first case to discover, and certainly won’t be the last to know about. If we go back to the older generations, we’d vividly remember how the late Ismail Yassin was himself too, a comedian of huge charisma on screens, but behind it was a struggling individual with many challenges facing his way, mostly financial, that took a toll on his mental health, causing him to be severely depressed in his last few years.
Similarly, Egyptian actress Zinat Sedky who was well known for being able to crack the audience up by just showing up in any artwork with her throwaway lines, was herself going through emotional challenges also due to falling in debts and struggling financially. She even ended up living on a rooftop years before her passing. We as individuals can sometimes get vision-clouded by the happy faces we see on screen, that we fail to see what’s beyond. We fail to believe that those who represent happy characters go through hurricanes of emotions.. and happiness can be the only absent feeling amid the chaos.
Another incident one can never forget, is when the world woke up one day to the news of Robin Williams committing suicide. What was so shocking about the news alongside the fact that of course, losing someone to suicide is tragic, was knowing that Robin Williams was the man we lost was the true slap in the face that necessitated raising the issue to discussion back then. A man who was capable to draw smiles on our faces through endless comedian artworks, was doing so whilst battling severe depression.
Endless examples can be tackled here, but this inverse relationship that joins comedians and depression will remain in question. Is it because they push themselves way too much to be cheerful all the time, just because this is the only acceptable version of themselves in a society that can only look at them as individuals who aren’t allowed to experience the whole spectrum of emotions just as much as anybody else? Is this why tension piles up, and feelings of loneliness and grief seize to amp?
Maybe they fail to communicate their inner struggles and intrusive thoughts, because a feeling of shame accompanies following this type of talk, which makes it more stifling? Or maybe they’re not vulnerable to depression more than anyone from the first place, but merely being looked upon as “all smiles people”. So every little contrary feeling is automatically put under the spotlight, once the size of their smiles starts narrowing.