Are People With ADHD Funnier? 2020-10-09T11:13:50-04:00

Is there a connection between seeing the world differently from others and being funny?

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Does ADHD Make People Funny?

Alan asked what about the connection between comedians or comedy and ADHD.  Now Alan knows me and Patrick McKenna as well who starred in ADD & Loving It?! because he was the fellow who got the Red Green Show on PBS.
So do comedians tend to have ADHD,  or do people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to be funnier?  Tough to say, in my experience the comedians do have high rates of issues, depression‘s a common one, but nobody wants to hear depressing thoughts so we learned to wrap them up in jokes, which is a sad way to look, sorry I didn’t mean to ruin comedy for you.
A number of people have talked about their Asperger’s, I know Jerry Seinfeld mentioned that he thought he might have been diagnosed with Asperger’s had he been a young man today and Dan Aykroyd talked about his Asperger’s as well and I know I have a tinge of it I’m sure. There was a comedian called Charlie Callas who had Tourette syndrome and he who worked it into his routines.  Howie Mandel who’s quite open about some of the other stuff he has going on, the OCD.   We tend to have more than one thing but then they’re all executive function disorders they’re all about managing things, managing your thoughts, managing your emotions, managing your impulses, or even managing your fears.
A few years ago i did my one-man show at a comedy festival in Ottawa, after the show almost every other comedian who was appearing over the three or four days of the festival came up and either asked me about ADHD or their spouses came up and asked my spouse Ava about ADHD they were all, how do you stand living with them?
Patrick McKenna told me that when ADD & Loving It?! premiered, two minutes after it ended his phone rang and it was another world famous comedian calling him to say your wife is a saint.

What is it About ADHD that Makes  Us Funny?

In  Lynn Weiss’s book ADHD A Different Way of Thinking (Available on Amazon) one of the traits she lists is lateral thinking, lateral thinker and a joke is kind of lateral thinking, how many lawyers does it take to wallpaper a room?  One but you have to slice them really thin.
Lateral thinking, that ability to make connections is probably easier when you have a brain that’s leaping all over the place, perceptually acute is another one from ADHD A Different Way of Thinking and I suppose a joke is a way of seeing things that nobody else has seen, fun energetic Robin Williams,  Jim Carrey, lots of comedians, spontaneous risk taker.
So Patrick McKenna and many other comedians I know do improv comedy, that terrifies me they get up on stage with no script.  So think about that, Patrick McKenna and everybody else who does improv not only gets up on stage in public but gets up there with no idea what they’re gonna say,  I mean you’ve heard countless people at corporate events reading their three by five cards “and what is the point of saving the world?”.
It really takes something to get up there and do improv comedy but fun energetic open and un-secretive?  They ask anybody got an idea? shout it out. They’re eager for acceptance and willing to work for it, responsive to positive reinforcement, there is nothing more rewarding than telling a joke and having it get a laugh. I remember my first paying gig I was supposed to be studying at university, and so i would write jokes and send them to the local disc jockey because I’d heard they actually pay for jokes and I got like a quarter a joke if he was going to use them
and i didn’t hear anything back except one night I  had the radio on and he used one of my jokes and i was so excited.
Here’s another one from Lynn Weiss’s book, sees unique relationships between people and things, cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, often original with a sense of humor, a stand-up comic, and to me every joke is kind of an invention it’s something put together for the first time, so it
kind of makes sense having a brain that thinks in a less logical, less linear,  less ABCD but AZKJL and so on would lead to coming up with connections and making connections that other people might not, and if you struggle in school and we seem to do that a lot then you might end up being the class clown.
Patrick certainly talks about that in ADD & Loving It?! and that was my experience, I could get laughs even if I couldn’t get the right answer.  We’re socially awkward, we can be immature, and we can blurt things out that might be inappropriate which is kind of what most comedy is.
I don’t want to get too philosophical but comedy is actually a kind of a dark view of the world because drama says that the heroine of the story
can overcome horrible things and yet triumph and become president of the universe, whereas comedy suggests that two grown adults can’t move a piano across the room without bringing the entire building down.  Comedy is about failure, on the Red Green show I played one of the clumsiest characters in the world because in real life I’m actually one of the clumsiest characters in the world.
There’s also a tendency among people with ADHD to question why because they’ve tried something and it didn’t work I guess and so they go
why do we have to do it that way that’s not how my brain works.  They actually until they have the diagnosis may never verbalize that or make that connection they’ll just assume there’s something wrong with their brain as opposed to there’s something very different about the way they think and operate and could succeed.  So I think we tend to question things more, have a more negative view of the world ask why more and that leads to yeah why.
So there’s a whole bunch of reasons why maybe there is a big connection between comedy and ADHD but i want to say that doesn’t mean that everybody with ADHD is a natural comedian, some people aren’t, that’s fine, most people aren’t, my wife is not necessarily hilarious, not intentionally… I laugh… sorry she could hear that, she’s great, you’re great honey!  I wonder if she’s left me?  I haven’t heard her all day.
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  • 2 Comments

    1. Avatar
      ghtraveler October 17, 2020 at 2:52 am

      Today, I was getting report from the nurse on the shift before mine. She was telling me a tragic story of an elderly person who ‘hadn’t been sick a day in her life’ until last year when she got colon cancer and had part of her colon removed…so, I had to ask…you mean she just has a semi-colon now?

    2. Avatar
      jennco October 18, 2020 at 10:47 pm

      Good one! How did the nurse react?

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