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Whenever there’s an “in-depth profile” of a comedian, you’ll usually find a line like “Under all the jokes, [The Comedian] is actually very serious.” That line tries to provide an insight to the comedian, but it’s really almost meaningless.

For one thing, virtually everyone is serious under the surface. All of us think and worry and struggle over something, whether it’s family, faith, politics, making a living or something else.

Besides, where do in-depth profile writers think that comedy comes from? Often, the topics that comedians turn into jokes are so infuriating or frightening or saddening that the only way to make them tolerable is to make fun of them.

A comedian’s life means trudging from club to club and town to town, going poorly paid or unpaid, getting rejected, telling jokes to an audience of a few heckling drunks, and bombing time after time. Anyone who endures that series of body blows isn’t going to end up all cheery and light-hearted.

“[The Comedian] is actually very serious.” Really. Tell us something we don’t know.

The Tragic Side to Comedy