It’s Monday 11th August 2014. I’m devastated. Childhood ruined. My facebook feed is full of people posting status of shock. The news headlines are consumed with it.

Robin Williams has died at the age of 63. He has committed suicide by hanging himself.

Flashback to my childhood – I remember going to see Jumanji for my birthday party. It was released in the UK on the exact day I turned seven – 16th February 1995. I’d been excitedly handing out invitations done on my dad’s Windows 95 computer that week, with the words ‘Jumanji’ written out clearly and proudly.

Christmas time. Mrs Doubtfire is on. Again. And we watch it. Again. Because why not?

One of my brother’s friends gives me a videotape of Aladdin. I watch it repeatedly, singing along with “never had a friend like me” word for word.

I grow up. I have a fair few issues myself and I struggle to get motivated in class despite being generally intelligent. I watch Good Will Hunting. It has a profound effect on me.

So you can imagine why I use the words ‘childhood ruined’ in response to the devastating news that one of the icons of my youth has killed himself. Maybe it’s a bit extreme, but it’s how I felt at the time.

I was obsessed with Jim Carrey as a kid. I would not stop watching Ace Ventura again and again and again. I loved The Mask. Liar Liar had me in stitches. I even got banned from talking about or impersonating Jim Carrey by my teacher when I was nine years old.

But he’s been through multiple divorces, had multiple issues and obviously struggles with a few personal demons himself.

I was a comedian for five years, before I packed it in to focus solely on being a writer. I have had severe mental health issues and, somehow, being funny on stage seemed like a calling for me. I was the clown at every house party, every lesson in school – it was how I dealt.

When you become a comedian you imagine backstage drinks with the other comedians will be a hoot. Full of laughing, jokes, constant hysterics, with incredibly witty people.

The reality is that comedians are generally pretty messed up people. And backstage is filled with many people with many major character flaws. After all, if you want to spend some time standing on stage begging a group of strangers to find you funny, you got to be pretty messed up, right?

So why is it such a past time attracts such majorly flawed people? Or is it that we are all majorly flawed and this outlet just brings the flaws to the forefront, as funny people indirectly put their issues in the spotlight?

Personally, I think people who have had to be funny their whole life are people that are need that vindication. I am a confident person, almost arrogant even, but for some reason I always feel best about myself when I’m making people laugh.

People’s laughter numbs everything else. The laughter makes me feel welcome, in a social situation where I otherwise feel awkward. Because I am vaguely autistic in a dyspraxic sense – in that I struggle with social situations, particularly in reading them, and sometimes I panic. So my lack of being able to read the situation comes out as my saying inappropriate things, which makes people laugh. And I feel accepted. And I don’t need to panic.

There’s no solution, no real point here. Just an observation.

Next time you laugh at someone making you pee your pants, take a second to think about the pain behind their jokes.

Just don’t stop laughing to do it, or they will have to face that pain.

Published by Rick Wood