I was saddened to learn that Chonda Pierce’s husband, David, passed away. As a popular Christian comedian known as the “Queen of Clean,” Chonda’s made thousands, perhaps millions, of people laugh over the years.
Now it’s her turn to cry. Yes, cry. Sometimes I think we forget that comedians feel pain, grief, sadness, even depression. Yet Chonda’s been quite open about her dark night of the soul in her book, Laughing in the Dark: A Comedian’s Journey Through Depression.
Truth be told, many professional comedians admit that turning to humor helped them cope with a sad or abusive childhood. But as Proverbs 14:13a says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache” (NIV).
I discovered this phenomenon as a child in school. Invariably, at least one class clown occupied every grade and kept us kids entertained all day long, often disrupting lessons, which only added to our glee. When I would go home after school, Mom, in the kitchen ironing most days, would ask me how my day went. I’d tell her about the fun we had at the expense of the class clown. She’d calmly reply, “You know, Eileen, often the person provoking the most fun is the person with the deepest hurt. He’s laughing on the outside, but on the inside, his heart is crying out for help.”
That simple message cut to the deep places of my own heart. After that, I became a champion of the class clown. Instead of laughing at all his jokes or times he’d get in trouble because of them, I tried to understand him better, befriend him.
And, on a personal note, I realized there were times when I used humor to escape dealing with my own emotional pain. There’s nothing that fuels a comedian more than having someone laugh at her jokes or silly behavior. It’s downright addictive. Thank the Lord for those discerning folks who can see beneath the humor to the hurt, who know when to ask the hard questions. My husband is one of those. While he enjoys my routine antics, he also knows me inside and out, and thankfully loves and cares for me anyway.
Don’t get me wrong—I do think a merry heart is good medicine, as the Bible notes. How often my spirits have lifted because I chose to look on the lighter side of life. But when joking around hinders me from dealing with deeper issues, then I need to set aside humor for some serious inner work of healing.
So, when you meet someone who’s the life of the party, whether at school, at home, or in the workplace, remember to look beneath the laughter. You may just see some tears.