Comedy holds the utmost importance to me. Not to sound all “eat pray love” but, above all things, I always needed laughter. Whether I feel down in the dumps in the midst of winter, hundreds of miles away from my funny family and friends while buried under work, or if I feel on top of the world, I always go back to satisfying my need for comedy. It takes the form of my favorite genre of entertainment, and my most effective anti-depressant.
As children, we all think we’ll end up doing something grande with our adult lives: become surgeons, jungle explorers and world leaders.
I desperately needed to be laughed at.
Getting a good laugh from people always gave me an overwhelming sense of gratitude and self-esteem, to the point where I convinced myself I would establish a career as a comedian when I was a little kid. I didn’t see myself as a doctor or lawyer, like my dad probably would’ve adored (though he is still loudly proud of my left-field decision to pursue journalism). I wanted to do anything from stand–up comedy in arenas to writing jokes for television.
And like all kids, eventually I grew some sense of probability for the future, and my sole goal of becoming a comedy legend became the more realistic goal of using my writing skills in the media world.
I got a better grip on my future, but the way comedy intertwined with my life never dissipated.
My family members predominantly communicated through jokes, I found friends through a common love of Vines and I could often most eloquently communicate my emotions through references to memes. Once the beginning of my college career began, and I was living hundreds of miles away from my friends and family, in search of a new self (and a degree), comedy was there for me. I watched the same ridiculous videos over and over, and kept up with my friends lives by sparking conversation through tweets they’d like. Skimming through my huge list of funny things I’d heard in public since my sophomore year of high school brought some smiles. I looked forward to coming back to my apartment after classes and shouting the first thing on my mind to get a laugh out of my roommate.
Comedy still currently seems like a lifeline to me sometimes.
I get sad easily, and occasionally all I want to do is lie in bed and pretend I don’t exist. When it gets really bad, I noticed I resort to the same methods of keeping sane—watching the same 10 videos that make me laugh until my stomach hurts every time I see them. Comedy made it easy to stop mulling over how terrible I felt when I was busy gut laughing at something. Looking back on this time, ignoring my underlying feelings didn’t form a perfect solution either. But using tools to help me get through the day or the hour without existential dread formed an option better than sulking. I knew I didn’t have it in me yet to take the leap of seeking out professional help. So, I looked to John Mulaney, Hasan Minhaj, Ali Wong and even my favorite twitter comedians and comedy podcasts,
They not only led my thoughts away from self-hatred and also taught me new ways to look at life.
On varying degrees, we probably all do this. We hold a deep-seated love for Netflix, and watch whatever genres we deem most enjoyable according to our tastes to wind down in between tasks. Some of us lean to Friends or Narcos or the latest A24 niche art house film. Certain factors—like plot, cinematography, relatability—about these genres attract us most effectively or mean the most to us. My love for comedy always came back to the storytelling factor. Certain comedians became my go to because they spun stories about wild encounters, and whether truthful or not, shared an experience with me.
Holding on to something you love as a lifeline or connection to the real world can be a saving grace when you feel stuck in your persistently gloomy head.
If I feel a quarter-life existential crisis coming on, I can always go back to memories of giggling with my siblings in the middle of the night or my most recent vine reference/obsession. When you feel like the world is moving on without you or a dark cloud follows you everywhere, having something you can come back to helps remind you that there’s something worth spending your time on.