When I was in my first year of school (aged 4 or 5) I would get my peers to sit on a bench and I would perform a “funny show” in which I would tell jokes and do impressions to make people laugh. At this point in time, my dream was to become a comedian, my heroes were all comedy superstars ironically in my quest to emulate the joy they brought to other people I have become just like “them” a sad clown.
As a child I told my parents I was scared of sleeping alone, I was allowed to sleep on the sofa until they went to bed when they would carry me to bed, I did this for one reason, so I could watch late night TV. When I was far too naïve to appreciate the jokes of late night television, and far to young to really understand the idea of the “tragic hero” I didn’t empathise with the pity and fear the characters I admired evoked.
Whilst my dreams and goals changed, my longing to be accepted did not, and whilst I had long left my “funny shows” behind me, as I went through school. my need to be funny, to mask the fact I wasn’t happy grew. So being a social outcast I would use humour to build up a wall. I realised early on in my education that doing something stupid and making people laugh equals instant likeability. In building up this humour wall I created a false clown version of myself to draw attention away from my own anxiety and awkwardness. This way, it didn’t matter if people didn’t like me as it meant in reality they hated a false version of me and that was fine. But, the problem was people loved the clown and I knew that it would mean they hated the real me.
In bringing joy into other people’s lives and making them forget their problems, albeit briefly, it gives me a feeling of extreme joy but also crippling sadness. I am the hero of the story, I don’t need to be saved.
The Elephant in the Room