Stand-up comedy can be no laughing matter for some of the people actually telling the jokes with research confirming they are more likely to die prematurely.
A team at the Australian Catholic University wanted to know whether the tendency to die young was common within the entertainment industry.
“It started with Robin Williams – I was musing with a friend about good comedians dying young,” lead author Simon Stewart told The Guardian. “It then struck me that in every comedy duo I loved growing up (The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise etc), the funnier of the two died first.”
Average life expectancy is 82 but for stand-up comics, it is just 67.
Stewart says comedians are more likely to die from non-natural causes, such as suicide.
“There are a combination of things that contributed to their deaths and it might be about this intrinsic stress of being a comedian,” he says. “Overall, the results point to a need for awareness of health and wellbeing concerns in the entertainment industry, and in elite comedians in particular.”
In Australia, a group was formed several years ago specifically to cater for the mental health of people within the industry. Entertainment Assist aims to encourage conversation about the expectations faced by performers and how to handle the stress.