Comics are a very weird bunch of people. Almost every comic I have spoken with has some hangup, something that has turned them from a normal upstanding citizen to someone that wants to tell jokes to drunk people. Nothing wrong with that, right? There is. When the crap in your life messes with your comedy.
The most common affliction with comedians is drug and alcohol abuse. I don’t know how many performers I have talked to that have had their careers derailed because they couldn’t stay away from the stuff. If you are addicted to drugs at least when you get on stage you are away from it for a bit. If you are an alcoholic you are basically looking at a room full of people that are indulging in the thing that is crippling you, not to mention that performers usually get free booze. It is hard to keep yourself straight when after every show people are shoving drugs and alcohol down your throat (or up your nose). I know of comics that are so damn talented, but because of drugs and booze, they spiral out of control and mess up everything they worked hard to get. It is sad.
There are people out there that can perform really well, but they have a mental illness that prevents them from achieving greater success. I suffer from major depression. When I am in a down spell it is basically 1 or 2 months of wasted time. I don’t push for shows. I stop sending emails. I may even not go to open mics and stuff because I feel like such crap. 1 or 2 months might now sound like much, but you have to understand that you are booking for months in advance and if you are in such a depressed state that you didn’t do what you needed to do to book those shows you will then feel bad that you felt so bad that you didn’t get shows booked and so it is just a tired, depressed circle.
There are also a couple of comics I know that suffer from bi-polar disorder (manic-depressive illness). That is when they have extremes spells of ups and downs. I have seen some of these guys when they are in the upswing trying to take over the word. They are writing new material and thinking about releasing albums and then they disappear for a couple of months and you don’t hear anything from them. That has to be so bad. I mean at least in my case, I kinda have a solid disposition. To go from thinking you can carry the world on your back to can’t get out of bed must be so painful. Also painful for a successful comedy career.
Then there are the self destructive people. They may have an issue like the ones above, but they mainly just can’t seem to get their shit right. They will do things like burn bridges with people that could probably be good for their career, for no other reason then they just had to do it. I have seen guys that are married or dating and just throw everything away just to mess with some crazy person that any normal person would have avoided. These are the type of people that just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Whenever they are doing great in comedy they have to go on a cocaine bender and mess everything up. Some people let their arrogance or confidence mess up stuff. Like if they don’t get a booking they will burn every bridge just to show everyone they are worth it. It doesn’t solve anything. In fact when the dust settles you have not only lost one booking, but several more down the road.
What I try to do is anticipate when my crap is about to get in the way of my career and I brace myself. I try to get bookings done when I am feeling great. I try to keep myself busy as well. It seems like when you are idle, your brain starts to throw doubts out there and the next thing you know you haven’t gotten out of bed yet and you need to call people about shows and stuff and so they have gone to other people. If you are suffering from a mental illness, I suggest getting some professional help. Drugs and alcohol will only deepen the problems. If you are a self destructive person that just can’t help, but be a douchebag…STAHP.