The Depressing World of Comedy and Medicine

James Belarde “Just like Pagliacci did / I try to keep my sadness hid / Smiling in the public eye / But in my lonely room I cry” –The Miracles, in “Tears of a Clown” “Is depression funny?” This deceptively simple question opens every episode of John Moe’s podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression. Well-connected…

Crying Until You Laugh: Finding Humor in Personal Tragedy

James Belarde “The more one suffers, the more, I believe, has one a sense for the comic.” -Søren Kierkegaard In June of 1980, comedy star Richard Pryor covered himself in rum and lit himself on fire after days of cocaine freebasing in what he would later admit was a suicide attempt. During a four-month span…

The Uncertainty of Medicine and Improv Comedy

  James Belarde “Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability.” -William Osler The Big Sick, a 2017 romantic comedy written by husband-and-wife team Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, tells the true story of a mysterious illness that strikes Emily early in their relationship. The doctors initially overwhelm her family with medical…

Robin Williams and the Ability to Console with Humor

James Belarde “Comedy can be a cathartic way to deal with personal trauma.” -Robin Williams I vividly remember August 11, 2014 for two reasons. For one, it was the day my medical class at Columbia University observed its White Coat Ceremony, officially marking our matriculation. But it was also the day comedian Robin Williams committed…