Monday, July 13, 2009

Alcoholism & Comedy

"I thought I needed a double vodka to be funny." - Fiona O'Loughlin Quote

Comedy and alcoholism a likely mix

- by Tracey Spicer

Let's raise a glass to comedian Fiona O'Loughlin for coming out as an alcoholic.
Since the 5th century BC, her fellow comedians have been looking to the bottom of the bottle for their best material.
At the ancient Greek comedy festivals - in honour of Bacchus, the god of wine - Aristophanes performed the world's first bum joke, a fine tradition continued more recently by Monty Python's Incontinentia Buttocks.
The symbiotic relationship between comedy and grog goes from the ancient time of Homer to the modern time of - well - Homer.
Simpson, that is.
"To alcohol - the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems," the wise philosopher once said.
O'Loughlin, who appears to take these words seriously, describes herself as "the female Homer Simpson".
The mother-of-five's schtick revolves around drinking and bad parenting.
"I left a baby at Liquorland," she says. "I went back for him eventually."
The 45-year-old started drinking heavily seven years ago to calm her nerves before stand-up routines.
It's a common coping mechanism. After all, what could be more terrifying than getting up on stage and trying to make people laugh?
(Well - except for a giant, hairy, venomous spider landing directly on your face, but I digress.)
The most famous alcoholic comedian was Dean Martin. Except, he wasn't.
Despite his snappy, slurred, remarks and vanity licence plates reading DRUNKY, he was always the first of the Rat Pack to call it a night.
Shirley MacLaine, in her autobiography, confirmed that Martin was sipping apple juice, not whiskey, for most of his time onstage. The drinky Dean was a comedy routine.
The same can't be said for Robin Williams, whose battles with alcohol and drugs are legendary.
After two decades of sobriety, he went into rehab in 2007 after drinking during the filming of The Big White (terrible film, by the way. Almost drove me to drink).
The comedy genius, who once spoke of his hangovers as being "like the Elephant Man walking through a car wash", now has a new punch line.
"The hardest thing of all is admitting that I have a problem," he said at a comedy awards ceremony sponsored, ironically, by a vodka company.
Another recovering alcoholic, US comedian Dennis Leary, draws the line at crack, for a sensible enough reason.
"I would never do a drug named after a part of my own arse, okay?" he drawls.
That didn't stop Greg Fleet, the Aussie comedian and former Neighbours star who finally went into rehab after 23 years of heroin and alcohol addiction.
"I'd be walking down the street, flat broke and at my lowest ebb and people would wave and say 'Mate, you're a legend'. Meanwhile, I'm looking for cigarettes in the gutter," he says.
It's easy to blame undiagnosed depression or a general inability to cope for these ongoing battles with the booze.
But the real reasons are more complex, according to a recent dissertation by a doctor of psychology at Yale University.
In The Tears of a Clown, Scott Barry Kaufman PhD reveals that humour in professional comedians serves as a coping mechanism in dealing with their early family experiences. Many, he says, come from "distant" families and suffer low self-esteem.
"This motivates the comic to make people laugh in order to gain their acceptance, and to reveal the absurdity of life to make sense of their own lives," Kaufman writes. (After reading this, my head hurt, so I had to go and get a drink.)
A classic example of Kaufman's theory is Billy Connolly, who turned to the bottle to erase memories of being sexually abused by his father.
Fiona O'Loughlin admits to using her dysfunctional family as material, describing her parents as "a pair of pissheads" and her brother as an "obsessive compulsive".
Nobody knows whether O'Loughlin's alcoholism stems from her upbringing, the stress of child-rearing or other factors (God knows, if I had five kids I'd be hitting the bottle too).
But the first step in any recovery is acknowledging the addiction.
"I hope it will help me cope with it. I won't be able to fool myself any more," she said, after her embarrassing onstage collapse last week.
As a consequence, she may become funnier. Alcohol's role as "conversational KY Jelly" doesn't guarantee an orgasmic performance.
Brendon Burns, a Perth-born comedian who's big in the UK, is receiving rave reviews since he decided to enter rehab.
At his lowest point, he was drinking in the morning then taking cocaine at night, waking up covered in his own excrement.
There are sites that promote performers who've confronted their demons; sharing laughter after the pain.
In the words of UK funnyman Dean Burnett, "People addicted to comedy laugh a lot, whereas alcoholics rarely ever do."

- via The Daily Telegraph (

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Addict's Digest

Addiction and Recovery Articles, Quotes, Cartoons, and Jokes

Addiction Recovery Article
"One day during a trip I made to Nashville, a friend offered me a hit of methamphetamine from a little pipe. I didn't know then that meth is our biggest drug problem in rural America - that it's the easiest, cheapest drug to obtain, and also one of the most addictive. So I smoked it. And that was all that I thought about for the next year and a half..."
Read the whole article: Second Chance by Jeff Bates

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Drug Article
It may seem like a simple step, but talking to your teen about the risks of drugs may help keep your teen drug-free. In fact, teens who learn about the dangers of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to try drugs than are teens who learn nothing at home. So check out this guide to slang terms and potential harmful effects for commonly abused drugs - and use it to open up the lines of communication with your teen...
See Drugs: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask

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Mind-Altering Drug Quote
"The best mind-altering drug is the truth." - Lily Tomlin

Drug Misuse Quote
"Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error of judgment." - Philip K Dick

Crazy World Addiction Quote
"What a crazy world we live in! Trying to treat addiction as a legal problem, and trying to treat criminal misbehaviors using guns as a medical problem! Beam me up, Scotty. Ain't no intelligent life down here." - Julie Cochrane

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Doggy Bar Cartoon

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Recreational Drugs Joke
Each new patient at the clinic where I work must fill out a questionnaire asking basic health and personal-history questions. One query that inevitably gets a "No" answer is, "Do you now use or have you ever used recreational drugs?" We were unprepared for the response of a young newlywed who wrote: "Yes - birth-control pills."

Drug Test Joke
One time, I had to tell a candidate that we would not be able to offer him a job because his drug test had come back positive and ours was a drug-free environment. After a minute he asked, "Can you tell me which one showed up?"

Alcohol Test Joke
On a curvy mountain highway late one night, my dad was complaining about the car behind us. "That guy must be drunk!" he said. "Every time I move over to let him pass, he slows down. When I get back on the road, he gets closer and stays on my tail." Thirty minutes later, the car turned on a set of flashing blue lights. Coming up to our window, the officer said, "Sir, I'd like you to take an alcohol test. You've been swerving on and off the road for half an hour."

Tavern Joke
The board of education in a nearby town sold off a building that had been a one-room schoolhouse. The buyer converted it to a tavern. One day an elderly man was walking by the place with his grandson and pointed to the building. "That's where I went to school when I was your age." "Really," said the boy. "Who was your bartender back then?"

No Booze Joke
Bartenders and waiters have heard 'em all. But what we rarely hear is someone turning down a drink. "Nah, I better not have one," said one man after I offered him a glass of wine. "I have the world's worst stomach. I eat so many antacids that if I were to keel over dead right this minute, I'd leave my own chalk outline."

Ladies and Bar Joke
"Do you serve ladies at this bar?" "No, sir, you have to supply your own."

Marijuana Groaner
Following months of marijuana drug busts, the DEA took the contraband into a remote region to burn. The fire was blazing brightly when an agent noticed that a flock of terns was flying around the area. Concerned about the effects of the smoke on the birds, they called the National Audubon Society. Their worst fears were confirmed. There was not one tern left unstoned.

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Addiction Photos

Photography of Urban Addiction Art (click the thumbs for larger Flickr images)

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Conceptual Addiction Photography (click the thumbs for larger Flickr images)

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Bar Talk Comics

Comic of Aliens in a Bar Talking about Tough Times

Fusco Brothers Comic about the Economy and Drinking

Daily Fusco Brothers Cartoons