It’s not the same as clinical depression, but it does share some qualities, and it’s not a surprise that our great comedic geniuses (the late Robin Williams, who was also bipolar) and artists are tinged with feelings of sadness, despair, darkness.
Some of our great comedians display such sensitivity – not just Robin but also the late Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock – you know, folks who have the ability to be hilarious while also delivering razor-sharp criticism, either about our social world or through self-deprecating humor (Robin was quite adept at the latter).
And then there are those artists who can tap into that blues residue and deliver the soul through their art – like visual artists like Van Gogh or vocal artists like Billie Holiday.
It’s this feature of deep-seated melancholia that really drew me to the Voice. David has that wonderful ability to not only soothe (as I recently posted) but to drive you to tears. He has this uncanny ability to tap into that source of despair and release it so tenderly in song.
So, it is because of this why I wouldn’t dare make blanket statements or assumptions that he does not suffer. I don’t know him as a person, only as a public persona and musician.
Just like I would never have guessed the tears behind the face of a clown (like Robin Williams), I won’t make any guesstimates about David’s mental or emotional health. We just don’t know. A smiling face might mask a world of sadness, and a hyper-active comedian who makes me ROTL may be suffering severe depression.
What do any of us know?
All we have is their art. And we can only respond in awe and wonder that such brilliance transcended anyone’s pain or joy at that moment of creativity.
We are all the better for it when such sensitive souls (because that’s what the great artists are – truly sensitive to the senses, to others, and to the world) share a piece of their soul with us.