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Arlin Cuncic

Mental Illness is No Laughing Matter

By June 27, 2010

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I was watching a comedian recently who did a bit about depression. The bit went something like this.

"I didn't know I had depression until a commercial told me I did".

"Do you drink excessively?" "Yes"

"Do you have a hard time getting out of bed?" "Yes, with all the drinking I'm doing"

"Do you have a hard time going to work?" "Yes. So I have depression. I always just thought I was lazy".

As much as the routine was funny, it reinforced the idea that depression is not a real illness. I imagine anyone in the audience suffering with depression would have been uncomfortable with the jokes.

The same would be true if he had been making jokes about social anxiety disorder. Stereotypes about mental illness are already a problem, without comedians jumping on the bandwagon.

What do you think? Funny or in poor taste?

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Comments
June 28, 2010 at 6:26 am
(1) Pete says:

Poor taste but you know how some comedians are, if their material and imagination is limited they have to victimize.

June 28, 2010 at 1:03 pm
(2) Eric says:

I thought it was funny. I don’t think the comedian was poking fun at depression, as much as the commercial for it.
However, I more associate with SAD, so maybe I’m not as sensitive about depression (even though that kinda goes along with SAD). I heard a bit about SAD, a long time ago, and they basically just went through the symptoms and said, ‘oh, so he’s shy’. And then wrote it off as something made up.

That got to me, but I get nobody can really understand unless they’re going through it.

June 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm
(3) Kim says:

I suffer from both SAD and depression. However, I’m not offended by a comedy bit about it (I may not laugh so readily at the jokes but I’m not offended). I guess this is because when it comes to comedians, they can be equal opportunity offenders. Knowing that just about any topic is fair-game, I don’t take it so personally.

June 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm
(4) Pura Vida says:

If this were about cancer would it be funny?

Exactly. That is the appropriate barometer.

June 28, 2010 at 8:24 pm
(5) Kini says:

It seems like I’ve seen more and more comedians making fun of inappropriate things like Hitler, cancer and so on. I think a good comedian doesn’t need the shock value but it’s hard to say what some people will find funny.
I suppose those of us with SAD should be prepared for it because there seems to be no limits. I have heard them make fun of children, disabilities and molestation even so this problem is definately not off limits. In my experience very few people can understand this problem and they give mostly lame advice. It’s unfortunate so we need to focus on our own healing and avoid the negative.

July 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm
(6) Francis says:

As many of the great comedians suffer or have suffered extensively from depression I think it is their way of coping with, or explaining their ailment. depression can be a dibilitating disorder and robs one of quality of life. Personally I find laughter one of the finest releases of stress. Isn’t all comedy areflection of the aspects of life that perturb, annoy, aggitate us; Or that which we simply can’t control. (Yes have suffered from depression.)

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