It is difficult to look at someone who has a naturally humorous personality and believe that they battle depression. The iconic comedy legend Jim Carrey is one of those people. It seems to be a trait that runs in his family. Jim Carrey is very open about the fact that he battles sadness and shares what inspired him to use comedy as a coping device.
According to Movie Pilot, Jim Carrey grew up in Canada, where he was born, the youngest of four children. Carrey’s father gave up his passion for music to work as an accountant in the attempt to provide his family with a stable income. Jim’s mother, chronically ill, was a stay-at-home mom.
In an interview with 60 Minutes, Jim Carrey was asked where his “incredible talent for physical comedy” was born. Jim’s answer was poignantly honest.
“Desperation. I had a sick mom, man. I wanted to make her feel better. Basically, I think she laid in bed and took a lot of pain pills. And I wanted to make her feel better. And I used to go in there and do impressions of praying mantises, and weird things, and whatever. I’d bounce off the walls and throw myself down the stairs to make her feel better.”
Jim Carrey was so devoted to his parents’ well-being that he would even wear his tap shoes in bed on the off chance his mom and dad would need him to lift their spirits at night, according to IMDb.
When Jim was 15, his dad lost his job. The entire Carrey family spent a short time living in their van, and everyone took on full-time jobs. Though he excelled in school, bringing in straight As, Jim quit school to help bring in much-needed income.
“My family kinda hit the skids. We were experiencing poverty at that point. We all got a job, where the whole family had to work as security guards and janitors. And I just got angry. I was angry at the world for doing that to my father. I wanted to bash somebody’s head in, basically.”
That’s my Father in my thumbnail photo. The man was pure #BOING. Truly deeply touched by something divine. ;^)
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) May 11, 2015
At that time, Carrey was pounding things with a baseball bat to combat his anger. Again, comedy came to the rescue. Jim Carrey’s dad was instrumental in helping him learn to deal with his emotions in a more positive way. The two developed a stand-up routine, and Jim Carrey’s career was born. Ironically, his debut performance, held in Toronto, was a dismal failure. Not one to give up, Carrey nevertheless persisted, and at the tender age of 21, Jim appeared on The Tonight Show for the first time.
Jim Carrey describes himself as a spiritual man, but not necessarily a religious one. While he believes in a higher power and the granting of miracles, Jim is reluctant to claim any specific religion as his own. Though the characters that Jim Carrey embody on film are typically over the top crazy in one way or another, his personal life is the complete opposite. Night tends to be his favorite time, as he can be alone, peaceful, and there is no pressure to perform.
“I was always trying to make my mother laugh because she was sick or depressed or whatever. That is how it began for me, bringing comic relief to my family. It really is comic relief, people don’t just want to see it, they need it. I need it more than they do and that is why I am on this side of the camera…”
Devotion to his family turned on the desire in Jim Carrey to make people feel better. Now that his parents are deceased, Jim Carrey performs for the world, bringing laughter to ease its pain.
[Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images]