The Dark Side of Comedy

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RENO, NV - In light of Robin Williams' death, we're starting to see that behind the jokes and gimmicks, there's a much darker side to comedy. A local comedian shares what it's really like behind the curtain.

When a room fills with laughter, it's usually a good sign for a comedian, but when his hour is up, it's back to reality.

"The business is grueling. It's very difficult to make a living," says local comedian Wayne Walsh.

Many comedians spend most of the year on the road, relying on energy drinks to get through a show and alcohol to get some shut-eye--the life of a comedian is anything but humorous.

Walsh has been in the comedy business for almost 11 years, but his career started decades ago. He learned at a young age that it was either fight or be funny.

"I got beat up a lot, so I learned to tell jokes and that helped sometimes; it fills a void in a lot of our lives, comedy does, it's therapy for many of us."

As the old adage goes, 'pain plus time equals comedy' and Walsh has had his fair share of demons.

"I went through some severe depression once and was in a bad relationship and it was while I was doing comedy," he said. "I took a bunch of pills and wanted to check out at the time."

He was strong enough to pull through, but for many others, comedy is a cry for help. Depression runs deep among comedians.

"I don't think any comic would be surprised to hear of another comic taking their own life because a lot of us have been there."

Now with two dogs, a wife and a baby on the way, Walsh says he's lost what almost every comic needs in order to thrive in the business.

"I'm too happy to do comedy anymore."