Thu, Feb 23, 2017 | updated 03:45 PM IST

When Stand-up comedy drives you to early grave

Updated: Jul 14, 2016 12:39 IST

Washington D.C, Jul 14 (ANI): The world's best stand-up comedians, like Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfield, Ricky Gervais and Eddie Murphy, are more likely to die young than comedic and dramatic screen and stage actors, suggests a new study.

The study - 'Is the last 'man' standing in comedy the least funny? A retrospective cohort study of elite stand-up comedians versus other entertainers' - revealed "a pattern of premature mortality in elite stand-up comedians" indicating that higher comedic standing is linked to younger age at death compared to screen comedians and so-called serious dramatic actors.

This retrospective cohort study of 498 people included 200 Stand-up Comedians (13 percent women), 114 Comedy Actors (17.5 percent women), and 184 Dramatic Actors (29.3 percent women) listed in the top 200 in each category on popular online crowd-ranking website http://www.ranker.com. These individuals appeared in the 2015 lists 'Funniest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time', 'Funniest People of All Time' and 'Greatest Actors and Actresses in Entertainment History'.

Lead researcher Simon Stewart from the Australian Catholic University said there was a "significant gradient in the age of death, with stand-up comedians dying at a younger age (67.1 years) than their comedy actor (68.9) and dramatic actor (70.7) counterparts".

"Indeed, the data confirmed an adverse relationship between comedic ability and longevity, with elite standup comedians more highly rated by the public more likely to die prematurely," Stewart noted, adding "Overall, the results point to a need for awareness of health and wellbeing concerns in the entertainment industry, and in elite comedians in particular."

He added, "It appears that for stand-up comedians, being at the very top may be no laughing matter."

The MacKillop Institute research confirmed "significantly more deaths among stand-up comedians (14 of 36 deaths) categorised as 'premature' relative to population-based, life expectancy when compared to dramatic actors (11 of 56), with no difference when compared to comedy actors (9 of 33 deaths)." And stand-up comedians experienced proportionately more non-natural deaths (7 of 36) than their comedy actor (3 of 33) and dramatic actor (6 of 56) counterparts. Of note, stand-up comedians contributed to both reported suicides and 4 of 9 drug-related deaths.

"Within an international cohort of stand-up comedians spanning the last century and voted by the public as the funniest of their profession, we discovered that greater comedic ability was associated with a shorter lifespan, even after adjusting for life expectancy differences based on year of birth," he said. "Conversely, in parallel cohorts of the world's funniest comedy actors and the greatest dramatic actors, there was no evidence of premature mortality related to public-rated professional success or ability."

The study appears in International Journal of Cardiology. (ANI)

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