That’s a good point, and, if I may use my (albeit limited) experiences as a reference point:
I’ve said on this board (I posted here for several years, and then took a break for a few years) about my background. I was a “professional” stand-up comedian for about 6 years. While I wouldn’t claim to have been great at it, it paid my bills. And it was such a refreshing way to be able to vent frustrations that otherwise wouldn’t have had a release. These included my mother’s bout with breast cancer, my fiancée leaving me for another guy, my father’s unexpected death at age 50, and more.
Telling jokes is an EXTREMELY personal experience. The writing is hard enough. Then the constant editing and reworking. It gets even scarier when you figure that your job is to relate these parts of yourself that you’d be terrified to show to your significant other for fear of being left as your SO runs out of your life (that may be hyperbole, but, if so, it’s minor hyperbole).
Comedy can be a very lonely experience, too. On the surface, it seems like a great job. You get to travel, and you get to meet people. But when you’re in 100 different cities (and sometimes more) in a year, there for three to four days, you don’t get the chance to form close-knit relationships with a lot of people. Once your set ends, you’re pretty much left alone for the rest of the night. You say goodnight to a telephone. I’ve been in some of the most beautiful cities in America, and almost never had the chance to turn to someone and talk about the skyline, or food, or the hotel. You get done, you go to your hotel room, you live out of a suitcase, you tell the telephone that you love it (because chances are, the person on the other end can’t be there with you). You watch bad TV and stare at strange walls. If you have any vices, they can easily become magnified because you have to be your own control, and not everybody can effectively be their own voice of reason.
When comedians get together off-stage and hang out, the conversation tends to be some of the most boring, somber, serious conversations you’ve ever heard. A comedian off-duty is just like any other profession. The last thing a mechanic wants to do is fix a car, especially if he’s not getting paid for it. Computer people don’t want to fix your hard drive on their personal time (I realize I’m generalizing here. Most mechanics and computer people will help you out with a problem, but I’m sure a good portion of them bitch about it when you can’t hear them). Comedians - again, a generalization - really don’t want to tell jokes when they’re off stage.
But there’s a kinship among comedians, just like there are musicians and actors that are able to relate to the experiences of people having shared experiences. Who knows better how it feels than someone else who’s been through it?
Comedians form a family of their own. And, just like any other family, tragedies can devastate it. Greg’s tragedy was most devastating for his personal family: his kids, etc. But then, like any other death, it affected his extended family. And, while I’d never met Greg, he was one of three comedians dying that affected me the most deeply (for the record, the others were George Carlin and Sam Kinison. I had the honor of meeting Carlin once, and he was a delightful man). I didn’t know Greg, but I like to think that I was a part of that extended family.
He was an innovator. He was brutally honest, and one of the most intelligent men I’d ever seen.
I’ve kind of meandered from my point, but I think you get what I was trying to say.