Pete Davidson and Darrell Hammond Open Up About Mental Health Struggles
This past week, we learned that two well-known comics have been dealing with some mental health issues of their own. The Huffington Post reported that, while appearing on an episode of WTF with Marc Maron, Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson opened up about his struggles with mental health issues, specifically with his recent diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Davidson detailed that he’d enrolled himself in a rehab program for mental health issues earlier this year after noticing that he didn’t feel quite right, and was told he may be bi-polar. After leaving the center, he “snapped” and had a meltdown that led to him being officially diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. He’s now in therapy, which he says is “working, slowly but surely,” and he’s working on adjusting to life living with his condition, learning how to manage the effects.
Around the same time, The Washington Post released a story describing the tough time that former SNL star Darrell Hammond has been having since last year, when he lost out on the role of playing Donald Trump on the show. Hammond had been playing Trump for a decade, reprising the role as recently as 2015, when he learned that he was being replaced by Alec Baldwin. The news hit him hard, to say the least.
“I just started crying,” he told the Post. “In front of everyone. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock, and I stayed in shock for a long time.” Losing that role led to other losses as well for Hammond, including various corporate gigs, his confidence, and ultimately, his ability to stay in New York City, where he felt he couldn’t escape the specter of Donald Trump and the defeat of having lost the role.
Hammond is familiar with the darkness, his exposure to it after losing the Trump role was only one of many trips into depression. Hammond, like many of his comedy contemporaries, experienced abuse in his childhood, and has dealt with the repercussions ever since. Like Davidson, though, he also found a respite through therapy, praising his doctors for helping to save his life and help him find his self-worth again. Now, he seems to have found a peace about the whole thing. “I got to play him,” he told the Post fondly. “It went really well when I did. Times change, right?”
Davidson and Hammond aren’t the first to quietly suffer on the set of SNL, and they likely won’t be the last. Comedy attracts strife. For some reason, many comedic actors and stand-ups have dark pasts; self-loathing, childhood abuse, mental health issues and the like are all common threads connecting many of those in the comedy world. And while that darkness may hinder their personal lives, it often seems to enhance their comedic abilities, perhaps because knowing that darkness allows them to better appreciate the light.
The new 43rd season of Saturday Night Live will debut tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.