"Comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin. A talent in one area might also lead to a predisposition in the other." – Jack Dee
The recent successive deaths of comedians Robin Williams and Joan Rivers came as a rude shock to many. While Rivers’ death was attributed to old age and health complications, Williams’ untimely passing left the whole world aghast. Numerous odes went out to the veteran comedian who made people laugh for decades, but succumbed to depression himself.
Comedians play an important role in our society. They make us laugh with their antics and remind us that it is okay to feel miserable sometimes. So when our favorite comedian dies, it becomes extremely difficult for us to deal with the loss.
Here are five comedians whose deaths left a huge void in public memory:
#5 Andy Kaufman
Best remembered for playing Latka on the hit sitcom Taxi, Kaufman was an unconventional comedian. He did not merely enact a particular character; he became that character. Just watch any of his stand-up acts, which consisted of his inimitable Latka voice and spot-on Elvis Presley impression, and try keeping a straight face. Kaufman, however, passed away in 1984 due to lung cancer. Many still believe that his death was a hoax, which he used to escape the limelight, and he is still alive. How we wish this was true!
#4 Bernie Mac
Bernie Mac was an electric personality, both on and off stage. After gaining popularity as a stand-up artist, he went on to play memorable roles in films like Ocean’s Eleven and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. But Mac was also fighting a lone battle against a rare disease known as sarcoidosis. It eventually resulted in his cardiac arrest, and Bernie Mac passed away at the age of 50.
#3 John Belushi
It is difficult to imagine Saturday Night Live without John Belushi. Or Animal House, or Blues Brothers for that matter. Such was the charisma that Belushi brought to every single act of his. Improvisational comedy was his forte and manic energy was his signature. But alongside a busy career, Belushi was also addicted to drugs. All kinds of them. He eventually died of a drug overdose caused by a combination of cocaine and heroin.
#2 Chris Farley
To a large extent, Chris Farley followed in the footsteps of his idol, John Belushi. Both were a part of the Second City improv theatre troupe. Both sprang to international recognition with Saturday Night Live, and both passed away at the age of 33 due to a drug overdose. Whoever knew Farley, swore they had never seen a more warm and adorable person. His sketches on SNL were hysterical and he also gave earnest performances in films like Tommy Boy and Black Sheep. No matter what he did, he always managed to fill up the screen. Quite literally.
#1 Bill Hicks
He is easily the finest comedian the world has ever laid eyes upon. Bill Hicks was the voice of an entire generation. A generation sick and tired of dirty politics, trying to break away from the chains of commercialization in the face of a global meltdown. He spoke out openly against politicians, pop stars, hypocrites and self-righteous individuals. But just when Bill Hicks started to gain international recognition, he was gone. Just like that. Hicks passed away at the age of 32 due to pancreatic cancer. His death left a void in the stand-up comedy scene, which is yet to be filled.
You just have to take a look at the amount of awesome these men packed in their short careers to realize how they can never be replaced. It is almost as if death was the final prank they played on us. Except this time, the prank went horribly wrong. Heaven must be a whole lot funnier with them around.