Tuesday, August 22nd 2017

A comedian, of all people, executes the suicide option

The historical roots of the comedian is the court jester, the fool who is able to stealthily sway the ears of the wealthy and the powerful. Richard Jeni never had access to the powerful but he delighted his Baby Boomer fans by modeling his humor on gestalt psychology and parodying mystical practices. He paced his skits with eastern meditation poses and mantras.

Yesterday, Jeni committed suicide. And today, his surviving family revealed a diagnosis from a doctor that said, “psychotic paranoid and clinical depression.” Jeni joins a litany of counter-culture celebs like Hunter S. Thompson, Abbie Hoffman, Spalding Gray, Kurt Cobain, Ernest Hemingway who took the same way of escape. May their souls be sanctified.

For those of us who remain in corporeal being, do you realize how many in your midst have contemplated the same exit strategy? The National Mental Health Association estimates that more than half a million Americans attempt suicide each year — and 30,000 are successful. “Completed suicides are more likely to be men over 45 who are depressed or alcoholic.”

Jeni was 49, and had a self-publicized history of heavy drinking and random violence. Ironically, he doubled as a motivational speaker about his liberation from those afflictions.

Actually, the fool is the wrong archetype for Jeni. He was the wounded healer who didn’t make it. He’s a contemporary example of Kullervo, the promising Jedi but vindictive/woundology-afflicted, wanna-be warlock, in the Finnish epic Kalevala (don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it; it’s kind of like the Nibelungenlied of the Finns).

The initiating wound for the wounded healer brings a person to the end of their life – symbolically, literally, emotionally – to where they are brought to the point of having to pick up the pieces of themselves wonder whether they want to go on. That’s a major wipeout. It’s where they’ve had to re-build a world that was wiped out. That’s a wounded healer. They’ve had to go through Dante’s circles of hell, pull themselves together, and learn what faith was.

Richard Jeni went to the edge of the abyss, looked inside, and didn’t look back.

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3 Comments on “A comedian, of all people, executes the suicide option”

  1. That's a hilarious clip. I'm sorry we have lost another brilliant brain to depression.

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