It’s Hard Being The Funny Guy

John Belushi Performs Live

Throughout my life, I’ve been the class clown, the funny guy, the power move pulling, hell raising, dick joke slinging internet man who was quick with wit and always had a one-liner ready. It might sound ridiculous to those who don’t have the gift of humor, but it really is tough being the funny guy.

If you’ve ever felt suicidal, please reach out to someone and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

When you’re funny for a living, there’s constant pressure. I live my life in perpetual fear of losing my edge. I look at guys like Adam Sandler, Chevy Chase, Andy Kaufman, Tracy Morgan, and Dane Cook, who have or at one point, brutally lost their edge after being titans of industry. Of course, I’m nowhere near the genius or prowess of those guys. Not by a longshot. You start looking around and find nothing but the shattered careers of some of the most brilliant minds comedy has ever seen. It’s happened to so many of those who have been in the limelight for too long. It’s taken from us Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Jon Belushi, Mitch Hedberg, and now, Robin Williams, who may have been the most eclectic man to ever walk the earth.

The long and the short of it is, it’s hard being funny.

Humor is my drug of choice. It’s my favorite restaurant. It’s a homecooked meal. It’s that first line of cocaine. I absolutely love it.

I have always surrounded myself with funny people. I love laughing. But I’ve always been terrified about when the laughter stops. When life no longer wants you to be the funny guy. It’s exhausting. I work in an office that is overflowing with hilarious, talented people. It’s common knowledge that at least half of us suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder.

I’ve never dealt with severe anxiety, but I had a bout with mild depression a couple of years ago and was having a panic attack once every couple of months. I was living at home, working an entry-level job/glorified internship, had lost almost all contact with my closest friends from college and was reeling from a brutal breakup that had happened in the previous year, which was entirely my fault. I told people I was fine. That I just needed to get my shit together and I’d be okay. Outwardly, I was still the funny guy. Everywhere I went, I was introduced as “the funniest guy you’ll ever meet” Which of course was met with, “Oh yeah? Tell me a joke, funny guy.” The amount of pressure that puts on a person is crushing. So, I got my shit together. I started working out regularly and started writing for a niche comedy website called TotalFratMove, which is now the premier college humor and news site on the internet, without any idea of whether or not it would go anywhere at some point. Sure enough, a year and a half later, I moved to Austin to help with the launch the website you are now currently reading, PostGradProblems. It’s a site that capitalizes on the quasi-depression and self-loathing that comes after leaving college. It became my outlet. I found peace in relating to everyone who read this site. My humor was appreciated here. Not that it wasn’t elsewhere. It gave me an identity. An identity that now groups me in with a type of personality and profession known for offing themselves when the lights get too bright or begin to fade.

So, where does the humor come from? I have known I was funny for a long time. I’ve always been told I was funny. I was always getting in trouble for telling jokes in class. Humor was my escape from the monotony and sheer boredom of school. I have no idea where it came from. Maybe I was just blessed with it. I grew up in a stable home in an upper-middle class neighborhood and went to private school. I played sports. I had a great group of friends. I made people laugh. My mom loves telling the story about how she took me to the library to check out a book for a school project and came out with a book on how to become a standup comedian. Some 15 years later, I’m not quite playing Madison Square Garden, but my voice is still heard by hundreds of thousands of people each week.

So, where does the pain come from? I don’t know. I quite honestly do not know. I have trouble dealing with high stress, adult situations. I avoid confrontation, I insert humor into places it should not be inserted (I once called a competitor “worse than Hitler” in a meeting). If there isn’t humor around me, I get anxious. I have no idea why. I think people who don’t have a sense of humor are the worst people who walk this earth. Maybe the pain comes from the mere thought that there are people out there that I will never make laugh. As sick and narcissistic as that sounds, it’s the truth. There are probably people out there who read my stuff and think “Good God, this guy fucking sucks.”  Just writing that made me squirm. It’s insecurity. It’s anxiety. It’s madness.

I’m sure there are all sorts of “guys” out there who could write something similar to this. The “good looking guy,” “the athletic guy,” “the guy who knows a guy,” and on and on and on. I’ve never tried to let my humor define me, but in the end, it’s something that is my most outwardly defining trait. Being a thing “guy” is a blessing and a curse.

I’m not going to say that “being funny” is what killed Robin Williams, but I have no doubt in my mind that he was tormented because the laughter had stopped for him. It just wasn’t there anymore.

And that fucking terrifies me.

If you’ve ever felt suicidal, please reach out to someone and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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Brian McGannon

What do I love? I love happy hour, a good golf tan, and getting moderately drunk during dinner.

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