It’s been a sad time here at Bennettworld. We have been mourning the loss of comedian Eric Tunney, a wit, gentleman and elegance personified.
Eric’s death has hit me hard on a number of levels. I remember having a heart-to- heart with him in Edmonton when I lived there in the early ‘90s. He was on tour and performing at Yuk Yuks. We talked about the business, our insecurities, our dreams. I don’t think Eric was aware of his own magnetism. Being in close proximity to him felt like sunshine. His beauty made me swoon. I never made a play for him; certainly never felt I was in his league. Instead, I stood at the back of the room like the other comics and marveled at his presence.
Much has been made of Eric’s battle with depression. In a Toronto Star article comedian John Wing wrote about a memorial in L.A. with standup veterans and how “we wondered why we’d been successful and he had not, since it had nothing to do with talent.” I know Mr. Wing meant well, but the sentiment comes off as smug. As my ex, writer and comedian Rob Ross remarked, “Eric was loved and respected by his peers, friends and family. That’s success.”
Comedians mask their pain and use it as humour. It’s what they do. When that fails, the will to live fails. The soul shuts down. Depression takes over. It can be a long haul back to perspective again. Reaching out is the hardest thing a person can do, especially a comic. They’re supposed to be funny all the time. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating — there is no shame in asking for help.
I have made it a personal mission to tell my story and help people see a way out of darkness and addiction. I will continue.