Many would agree that these comedians left us too soon. They are the greats that made us laugh, that brought joy to our homes for decades, but another common thing for them is that they left us, and this life, too soon. However, when you scratch the surface comedians are often the unhappiest persons in the world, which means that many of them struggle with addiction throughout their lives, and at the end some are unable to cope. Of course, not all comedians die because of their inner struggles; it seems that life has a sense of humor of its own, often playing tricks on the men and women who bring joy.
1. Andy Kaufman
One of the greats who pushed the limits of comedy. His act was very controversial and very different – it wasn’t monologue-based, but it was more of a performance, and it showcased sketches written to provoke, not amuse. When he was performing he was looking for any possible angle to provoke the audience and many times he was nearly assaulted by his own public. What’s even weirder is that on the TV show Taxi he played the role of a loveable mechanic, Latka Graves, a character completely opposite to the ones Kaufman played in his performances. His most famous character is the boasting wrestler that only wrestled women – you have to admit that’s a bit different than the regular sketches that you can see on Saturday Night Live. When it comes to him you either love him or hate him, there is no compromise. Andy Kaufman died of lung cancer, in 1984, at the age of 35. Interestingly, a hopeful group of people believe that he faked his death as a part of a well planed joke.
2. Bill Hicks
During the early 90s there wasn’t a stand-up comedian more popular than Bill Hicks. Much like George Carlin’s performances, he too expressed his thoughts on religion, politics and philosophy in a sarcastic tone. At the peak of his popularity he had shows almost every day, and published comedy albums, appeared on talk shows, had his stand-up performances televised (however, a couple of times he was censored as broadcasters believed his jokes on religion and politics were too vulgar). Out of all of the comedians he had the coolest nickname by far – ‘The Truth Teller’. Often he would end the show with a mock assassination, but at the end he was really killed – by pancreatic cancer. He died at the age of 32, in 1994. Today he is known as one of the most culturally relevant comedians of his generation.
3. Robin Williams
With impeccable acting and a wonderfully brilliant mind, he was one of the greatest comedians of all time. But, just like many before him, he exited the stage too soon. In 2014, Robin Williams committed suicide at the age of 63, even though it seemed as if he will be making us laugh for decades to come. All his life he struggled with depression and addiction to drugs and alcohol – he was the clown that made everyone laugh, but deep down inside he was crying. Considering his struggles with depression, his career achievements are astonishing – he played in many successful comedies and dramas (Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Hook, Jumanji, Bicentennial Man and many more). His movies will make us laugh and cry, and the legend that is Robin Williams remains.
4. Chris Farley
Saturday Night Live blessed us with John Belushy, Richard Pryor, Andy Kaufman and with another comedy giant, Chris Farley. When he appeared during the 90s thanks to him the show regained its popularity quickly. Farley featured some of the best physical acting seen on Saturday Night Live. But, he also developed a drug problem that would keep him away from achieving his full potential and would eventually kill him in 1997. When it comes to his movie career, he will always be remembered for his leading role in Beverly Hills Ninja.
5. John Belushy
One of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, a legendary comedian, famous also for his roles in Animal House and The Blues Brothers. When he died of overdose in 1982, nobody seemed surprised as it was well known that he had a drug problem. In his case, with fame came the drugs and self-destructive behavior. The man that brought joy to people also brought a lot of worries to his loved ones as his problems grew, and finally in March 1982, at the age of 33, because of an accidental overdose on a mixture of cocaine and heroin this star faded from the scene – but not from our hearts and minds.