Comedians Have Mental Illness Symptoms, Study Finds

February 19, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. mad /mæd/ (adj.) – showing a serious mental condition
Example: The mad man was sent into a mental hospital.

2. impulsive /ɪmˈpʌlsɪv/ (adj.) – done without proper thinking; often done quickly
Example: The stage director regretted being impulsive in the situation.

3. extroverted /ˈɛkstrəˌvɜrtɪd/ (adj.) – expressive and sociable
Example: People with extroverted behavior have many friends.

4. manic /ˈmænɪk/ (adj.) – refers to being excessively excited
Example: Scientists have observed that manic patients show great energy.

5. comical /ˈkɒmɪkəl/ (adj.) – funny or entertaining
ExampleComical scenes improve the quality of an action movie.


Read the text below.
Researchers recently found that being a comedian is linked to having mental illnesses and personality disorders.

Past studies suggest that the creativity of artists can be linked to mental disorders. To prove this claim, Professor Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford and his co-researchers conducted a study about the link between comedians and having a mad behavior.

Claridge’s team gathered 523 comedians, 364 actors, and 831 non-creative employees to participate in the study. Participants answered a questionnaire that measures personality traits. Questions include belief in telepathy and paranormal events, their distraction tolerance, their reaction to social and physical pleasure, and the possibility of having impulsive behavior.

Results showed that comedians got higher scores in all four categories than the other groups. Another notable finding was that the comedian group scored high for both extroverted and introverted behavior.

Claridge added that the manic thinking that people with mental disorders usually have can result in original ideas. These ideas can then produce funny and unique jokes. The result may then imply that the ability to make people laugh can indeed be linked to having mental disorders.

One of the notable comedians with mental disorder is Robin Williams, a famous actor who suffered from bipolar disorder and severe depression. Despite his condition, almost all of his movie roles were comical.

Another example is Daniel Tosh, who can make everybody laugh even if he suffers from social anxiety [ang-ZAHY-i-tee]. Spike Milligan also had a successful career in comedy despite having manic depressive disorder. One of his psychiatrists confirmed that he has a mental disorder and can be dangerous to others.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the study’s claim that comedians may have mental disorders? Why or why not?
·         How did the article affect your view on comedians? Kindly explain.

Discussion B

·         Do you agree with the saying that laughter is the best medicine? Why or why not?
·         Why do you think comedy appeals to many people?


February 19, 2014