My ADHD might not be funny, but, darn it, I am. And let’s face it, as far as coping mechanisms go, humor’s a pretty good one. It’s kept me alive at times when life was no laughing matter.
And I’m in good company. Make that – great company. It’s no secret that among stand-up comedians, there’s a huge contingent of ADHDers.
Look at the guys on the newly launched website totallyadd.com, which went online in December 2009, featuring award-winning comedic performer Rick Green of television’s The Red Green Show and The Frantics comedy troupe. Have a look at the hilarious video, Syndrome, for a fine example of good ‘ol ADHD humor. A mix of facts, humor and philosophy, with a dash of self-deprecation – just the way we like it!
Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, and many more are either confirmed or suspected of sharing the ADHD funny bone. Maybe Adam lost another rib that no one’s telling us about, ‘cause comedic ADHDers have been around since time began.
Perhaps “class clown,” should be listed as a diagnostic in the DSM V, the widely anticipated update of the diagnostician’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, due out in 2011.
But if a penchant for humor is so widespread amongst ADHDers, is it an intrinsic part of the syndrome, or just a coping mechanism?
Do we have to keep everyone laughing – so that we’ll be accepted? So that no one will feel sorry for us? To hide the truth of our lives and the depth of our pain? Maybe it’s all of the above.
Or maybe, we’re just damn funny.
And what is humor? Sure, it’s a subjective thing. But in general, humor is derived, at least sometimes, by making unusual connections between things – and we do that all day long. We see the connections between everything. Hey, we might even be the original Zen Buddhists – we are all one (but not in a scary, Borg-like way, just in a nice, mi casa es su casa, kinda way). And not just us, everything is connected to everything, when you get right down to it. And it seems that, more than the non-ADHD population, we see the bridges between things, we jump from pebble to pebble when others don’t even see the beach.
Humor can also be created through the juxtaposition of incongruent situations to produce surprise and laughter. According to a Wikipedia entry, “Arthur Koestler argues that humour [sic] results when two different frames of reference are set up and a collision is engineered between them.” Well, duh. If we don’t find ourselves in crazy situations on a fairly regular basis, then we’re just not living up to our ADHD titles.
Also according to Wikipedia, among other factors, humor contains surprise/misdirection, contradiction, ambiguity or paradox. And what self-respecting ADHDer can’t relate to that?
So there you have it. Humor is inherently eminent in an ADHD life. The trick is, learning how and when to turn it off – and why you should.
Here are some examples to give you an idea of when you SHOULDN’T use your God-given gift of mirth:
- You’ve just burned the house down but you say, “Well, honey, at least I remembered to lock the door!”
- Your Revenue Canada / IRS guy calls to pressure you to file your 2006 income tax report (and it’s 2010), and ends on a compassionate note, “You can call me any time to talk if you feel overwhelmed,” and you reply, “Wow, thanks, that’s really value-added service. Don’t you want to ask me if I want fries with that?”
- You just got a new job milking cows and when the boss comes to see how you’re doing, you look at him with a grin and quip, “Got Milk?” making sure you’re wearing a milk mustache.
You get the idea. I know it’s difficult, but bite your tongue. Or if you’re into S/M, enlist a friend to bite it for you, just find a way to disable it. Believe it or not, sometimes humor just isn’t appropriate.
And sometimes you’ll slip up (especially if you’re prone to impulsive blurting). But hey, can we help it if we’re just damn funny?