I picked up a magazine in a café the other day and saw a quote by the most popular Italian comedian of all time, Totò. The article was about the poverty of his hometown, Rione Sanità, Napoli, and for some reason the text grabbed me:
“I know misery by heart, and misery is the script of real comedy. You can’t make people laugh unless you’ve known pain and hunger, cold, hopeless love, the desperation of solitude…, the shame of ripped pants… In short, you can’t be a true comic actor unless you’ve made war with life.”
It made me think of some of our greatest comics and their bouts with addiction or depression. I’ve always wondered where comedy comes from.
So I asked my friend Stefan about this, a man who trains clowns for Cirque du Soleil. He said, “It’s what you do with the hunger and desperation that’s important. Everyone has them, but the clown transcends their negativity and makes them into relatable humility and connection.”
So basically the clown has touched the bottom and no longer worries about others laughing at him. In fact, he lets others laugh at him, because he knows it helps them.
What a selfish person I’ve been all this time, not letting others laugh at me!