Madcap antics may be part of a comedian’s on-stage persona.But the madness may not be just an act, say researchers.
The ability to make people laugh comes from a personality of the kind displayed by those with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Historically, the creativity of painters and playwrights has been linked to madness, but now British experts have found a link with comedians.
High levels of psychotic personality traits are behind the ‘sad clown’ façade of comedians like Spike Milligan, who suffered manic-depressive episodes all his life.
Researchers from Oxford University and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust say manic thinking helps join together ridiculous ideas that spark humour.
The stand-ups of a modern era are likely to have greater levels of extraversion – a form of impulsiveness – yet be more depressive and unsociable at the same time.In fact, say the researchers, making people laugh may be a form of self-medication to alleviate a low mood.
Analysts say Robin Williams suffered from bipolar disorder though they cannot support it with enough evidence.
They argue that, manic depression was behind the performances in many of his movies. Williams will throw away the script and act out his heart. He was almost always the comedian in the movies, making fun of serious life issues.
One writer suggested that Robin suffered depression when he broke up with one of his former girlfriends and that, it affected his stage performances. Another suggested Williams was depressed when he was dropped from Julliard.
Professor Gordon Claridge, of the University of Oxford, who led the study, said: ‘Although schizophrenic psychosis itself can be detrimental to humour, in its lesser form it can increase people’s ability to associate odd or unusual things or to think ‘outside the box’.
‘Equally, manic thinking, which is common in people with bipolar disorder, may help people combine ideas to form new, original and humorous connections.’
Prof Claridge, with colleagues Victoria Ando and Ken Clark, persuaded 523 comedians – 404 men and 119 women – to take part in their study.
A number of American comedians are able to harness whatever their mental state maybe be in order to create comedy gold.
Doug Stanhope is open about his alcoholism and often performs shows drunk. Whether or not this can bring out the best work in someone is delectable, but fans see it as part of their persona.
Daniel Tosh has an offbeat sense of humor and has openly stated that he suffers from social anxiety. Michael Thomas 'Tom' Green is a Canadian actor, rapper, writer, comedian, talk show host and media personality and best known for his shock humor brand of comedy.
They were asked to complete a questionnaire designed to measure certain traits, such as: belief in telepathy and paranormal events; how easily distracted they are; their ability to feel social and physical pleasure; and their tendency towards impulsive behaviour.
The questionnaire was also completed by 364 actors – another profession used to performing – and to a general group of 831 people who had non-creative occupations.
Comedians scored significantly higher on all four types of psychotic personality traits compared with the general group.
Most striking was their high scores for both extraverted, manic-like responses and socially introverted moodiness, says a report in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|