If the death of Robin Williams can teach us one thing it’s that no matter how someone might appear on the outside, on the inside we’re all fragile, vulnerable creatures who are tortured by our own set of demons. It also shows us that there’s a very common theme that connects bodybuilders and comedians – PAIN
Most change originates from some form of crisis. Those moments of intense internal and external pressure transform us the same way mother nature can transform small, insignificant rocks into the strongest and most beautiful gems on the planet. Over the years I’ve noticed that many, but not all, bodybuilders seem to be damaged goods who find something comforting in operating in the uncomfortable world of muscle – they embrace the stability our monotonous lifestyle brings to the turbulent mess that is their life. After all, let’s be honest, how many normal, well adjusted people would think that intentionally starving themselves for months on end while becoming a walking chemistry experiment, and absolutely ruining any chance you have at maintaining a normal personal life all for the sake of adding another trophy to the collection is normal?
And the same thread of truth is woven throughout comedy as well. All of the greatest comedians aren’t just standing onstage telling jokes, they’re painting us the illustrations of the pains and frustrations they’ve suffered in their personal lives and working them out through laughter onstage; the same way we workout our tragedies and turn them into triumphs that we display in our own fucked up way.
But just like any other group of tormented souls, there’s only so much damage we can use our armor to deflect before things start to sneak through and slowly erode the bulletproof exterior that the world sees. Eventually that erosion takes its toll, and what happens next is an avalanche of tragedy that buries everything in it’s path – and the people who are lost immediately become legends and cautionary tales of what happens when something inside finally breaks, becoming damaged and unfixable. Names like Robin Williams, Chris Farley, and Mitch Hedberg echo in the halls of comedy the same way that the Nasser’s, Mentzer’s, and Munzer’s all haunt the halls of bodybuilding. We look back and remember them in all of their greatness for the way that they pushed the envelope and changed the game, but the tragedy of death becomes an inescapable part of their legacy.
One of the ironic elements of death is that although it was someone else who died, it causes us to come face-to-face with the issue of our own mortality. It forces us to reexamine the way we’ve been living our lives and shine some light on things we’ve done our best to keep in the dark. Thorough it all we’re reminded of one very important fact, that no matter what sort of armor we mask ourselves in, be it comedy or muscle. Pain is invisible, but you can’t hide the scars.