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19.12.2016


Good comics die sooner

Do you make other people laugh easily? Do you find yourself, whether you like it or not, being the centre of attention at parties or meetings? If so, count yourself lucky that you've found this website, with its mountains of information on slow- and anti-aging. According to an Australian study, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, those with a talent for making others laugh die earlier than mortals without a sense of humour.

Study
The researchers gathered data from 53 male comics, born between 1900 and 1954. They used the website ranker.com, where visitors can rate comics, to give the comics a 'jollity' score between 0 and 10. Then they looked at which of the comics had already died, and how old they were when they died.

Results
The curve in the figure below shows that the lives of the better comics [with a Comedy Index Score of 6-10] were about seven years shorter than those of their less funny colleagues.


Good comics die sooner



Explanation
The researchers suspect that many successful comics have the kind of personality that makes them susceptible to disease or more likely to engage in risky behaviour.

"Depression and mania, for example, appear not uncommon among comedians, though in many cases they are masked and difficult to discern", they wrote. "Many comedians have publically admitted to being depressed or manic or both: examples include John Cleese, Peter Cook, Stephen Fry, Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan and Kenneth Williams. In the case of some like Tony Hancock this resulted in taking his own life."

The researchers refer to a study published in 2014 in The British Journal of Psychiatry. [Br J Psychiatry. 2014;204:341-5.] In that study psychologists at the University of Oxford subjected about five hundred comics to psychological tests that measure personality traits that are expressed more strongly in people who are psychotic. And they did the same with a few hundred actors.


Good comics die sooner


Good comics die sooner



The researchers discovered that the comics had noticeably high scores for anhedonia (not being able to enjoy things) and impulsive non-conformity (behaving impulsively in a socially unacceptable way).

Admittedly, the average scores were all within the normal range, but they do show that comics tend to have "an unusual personality structure that may help to explain the facility for comedic performance" and that also increases the chance of dying.

Source:
Int J Cardiol. 2015 Feb 1;180:258-61.

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