Comedians’ Lives Aren’t All That Funny

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

Recently, while writing a novel set in the world of stand-up comedy, I did some research on the real lives and personalities of stand-up comedians. What I uncovered was intriguing—and more than a little unsettling.

It seems that comedians’ minds are wired differently from the minds of average people. A study of 523 comedians from the U.S., U.K. and Australia found that comedians are good at making people laugh because they have the ability to associate odd things and to “think outside the box”—traits typical of people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder! Their thinking is often manic, which can help them combine ideas to form original and funny connections. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/17/comedians-psychotic-personality-traits_n_4610414.html)

Even more intriguing is the fact that comedians’ flamboyant onstage personalities are often at odds with their introverted offstage ones. And these quiet people are usually not all that agreeable. Stand-up comedy is a very competitive business, and stand-up comedians worry a great deal about others stealing their material. Much of that material involves the telling of brutal, nasty—and funny—truths. Moreover, comedians, as a group, aren’t particularly conscientious, that is, responsible, organized, and dependable. Instead, they tend to be spontaneous and to use aggressive humour directed at the audience or at themselves. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/humor-sapiens/201311/how-comedians-are-mountain-climbers)

More relevant to my novel was the research I found on the instability of comedians’ lives. Most of them must travel 40 to 50 weeks per year and perform from Thursday to Sunday to succeed in the stand-up comedy business. Of course, the constant travel takes a toll on their personal lives, and it’s difficult for them to maintain a steady intimate relationship. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/humor-sapiens/201306/the-fascinating-life-comedians)

Do you have some insight on the real personalities and lives of stand-up comedians? If you do, please share them with us.

 

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas

 

 

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photo credit: Swirling Moods via photopin (license)

 

Researching a Novel

Our imaginations can create exciting stories and people them with colourful characters. But most novels don’t work unless they have some connection to reality. Of course, we all have life experiences to draw on, but what do you do if you want your novel to reach beyond that?

On the surface, the answer to that question seems obvious: you do research. But exactly what research should you do and how much of it? Writers have limited time and energy to write, time and energy that can be sucked up by doing endless research.

I recently faced this problem when I wrote a romantic novel about a stand-up comedian and an event planner. I knew absolutely nothing at all about stand-up comedians and event planners, and very little about Judaism. Researching these topics online turned out to be a waste of time because I had no idea of how I was going to use the mountain of facts I uncovered.

The solution was simple. I wrote a rough first draft that concentrated on the fundamentals of the novel: plot and character. I then examined the manuscript, trying to identify opportunities to introduce details that would advance the story and add nuances to the characters, and made a list of the specific information I was looking for.

Once I did that, it was easy to do the research. In order to understand the special struggles of stand-up comedians, I purchased and read a novel about a stand-up comedian that was written by someone in the business. The comedian’s novel was different from mine, but it gave me insight into the special struggles of comedians. A basic book on Judaism helped to fill out my sketchy knowledge; it, too, gave me the details I was looking for. I had a harder time finding material on event planners, but I was able to track down some information online once my narrative was in place.

As my experience shows, researching a novel can be fun and not at all stressful once you’ve finished writing your first draft and know exactly what information you need to fill in the details.

Want to Read More?

Have you done research for a novel? If so, what methods did you follow? Please post your comments.

 

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photo credit: Pi Gamma Mu book sale, Wayne State College via photopin (license)