There's an old joke about a man who went to a psychiatrist complaining that all the joy had gone out of his life. That the world had become a grey, drab place and that he saw nothing worth living for. The psychiatrist suggested that all the man needed was a good laugh to remind him that there was joy in the world and that he should go to the local comedy club.
The man started crying. "Doc," he said. "I'm the closer there!"
I don't know if anyone has ever done a formal study regarding the rates of professional comedians and comedic actors who suffer from Depression. Given my own personal studies - as a student of comedy and as a Depressive - I'd be willing to bet it's rather high. The funniest people I know suffer from Depression. And the funniest people I've admired have suffered from it as well.
It is too early as I write this to know the circumstances - the hows and whys of Robin Williams leaving this world. But when I went on Twitter after hearing the news - seeking confirmation that this was all just a sick joke or an ugly truth - I saw something unexpected.
I saw people telling stories about their own battles with depression and drug abuse assuring one another that they weren't alone. I saw dozens of people in a scant few minutes, all passing on the numbers where you could call and talk to someone if you felt depressed or suicidal or thought you needed help. Everyone on my wall was just opening up and sharing and trying to shine a little brighter against the dark of the electronic ether.
I think that's a far greater testament to Robin's ability to touch people than any other words of memorial I could write about my love of his movies and his writing and his stand-up.
Oh Captain, My Captain!