October 26, 2011

SNL's Darrell Hammond "was a victim of systematic and lengthy brutality."

"My mom did some things which have cost me dearly."
The actor is well known as the funnyman who graced "SNL" to spoof celebrities like Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Sean Connery. He said there was a darker side that played out in his life, before he became known for those roles, and then later on, backstage before he went out to perform....
Hammond says he was medicated almost all of the time he performed on "SNL" each week, but that wasn't all that was happening behind the stage doors.

"There was cutting backstage," he said, adding that one time, he was taken from the studio to a psychiatric ward because of his actions. "In fact, the week that I did the Gore debates, I believe I was taken away in a straitjacket."
Here's an older clip of Hammond explaining how he worked out his impersonations of Bill Clinton and Al Gore and how he thought in terms of color, for example, picturing both Ted Koppel and Dick Cheney as — for some inexplicable reason — "plush blue." (Like this?)

41 comments:

Sixty Grit said...
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Tim said...

"He said he faced a variety of diagnoses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and was put on several drugs. While he took them, he called his medications "soul-killing drugs," though he says now he knows they helped stabilize him.

"I was on as many as seven medications at one time," he said. "Doctors didn't know what to do with me."


Sad.

Pogo said...

See Quayle's post. from yesterday.

It depends on many factors, Sixty, why some can keep going and others cannot. I wish it were as simple as Just Do It, but trauma can be a destroyer.

Sixty Grit said...
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TMink said...

Sixty, most people do not grow up being systematically abused. If you did, I am truly sorry. I did not. But I work with people whose abuse would give you nightmares. They are damaged from it and working hard to repair themselves. But almost all of them have managed to gain some empathy during their travails.

You could learn from that.

Trey

ricpic said...

How many recover from being systematically spoiled?

Kit said...

Well, we all have our coping mechanisms. It's really just a self-defense to some hell that's going on around us. Some leave physically, some leave by turning inward and some of that to the point self-harm.

Darrell sounds pretty depressed in the video.

Republican said...

How thoughtful of him to wait until both parents died before disclosing the abuse he suffered at the hands of his monster-mother.

Sixty Grit said...
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madAsHell said...

Thinking in colors.....how do you know which color applies??

How do you know that Ted Koppel is plush blue?....and what the hell color is plush blue.

Robert Cook said...

I read about this recently in my college alumni magazine, as Darrell Hammond graduated from the same college in the same university in the same year and with the same degree as me. I don't know if he graduated with me, as there were classes graduating every quarter, and I didn't know him in college, but even if he was a quarter or two ahead of or behind me, there's a good possibility we had classes together.

I had heard over the years he had a bad problem with drugs and drink, but I hadn't heard or known of his childhood abuse until I read the interview with him in the alumni mag. Sad and tragic. I hope he's coping well with it today. I always thought he was among the best ever to appear on SNL.

MisterBuddwing said...

You could learn to keep your judgment to yourself.

Pot, kettle...

WV: chewaile

Sixty Grit said...
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Robert Cook said...

Sounds like Hammond may have synesthesia.

MisterBuddwing said...

Hey Buddwing, he's the trained professional, or so he claims. He has not idea how much empathy I have in real life, so like him, you can shut the fuck up. See, I am just brimming with empathy.

Nice buttons you have.

WV: cardi

E.M. Davis said...

Wow. He does a heck of a Harry Anderson impression in that video.


Oh, wait ...

MayBee said...

Thank goodness he found a creative outlet.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Very sad and inspiring at the same time.

Sad because much of his skill and the enjoyment that we get from his performances probably stems from the pain of that abusive childhood. Inspiring in that he "seems" to be overcoming his horrific childhood. Let's hope he can.

Every day I thank my lucky stars for being born into a loving caring family that nurtured us and encouraged us to expand and explore the world while at the same time keeping a gentle control over us.

My first husband was not so lucky and came from a very abusive home, was molested as a child and eventually left home at 16 to join the Navy and spent 8 years (his formative years) in Vietnam seeing and doing horrific things. He was badly scarred emotionally, continued the abusive lifestyle and eventually I was unable to continue as a couple for my own safety and of my child. It was as if I had married an alien from another species who was wearing a disguise for some time. I think he was/is a borderline sociopath and certainly manic/depressive. It wasn't his fault. It just was.

Dear Quayle, We will miss you and wish you the best. Come back again when you are able.

AllenS said...

Obviously, there are a lot of things that I don't understand. For the life of me, even after reading about his early childhood abuse, why would he want to hurt himself? You'd think that he would have went in the other direction.

Pogo said...

"...why would he want to hurt himself? "

At the very moment of cutting comes a massive relief of pent-up tension, and even -paradoxically- a reduction in pain.

But then comes shame and other fellow demons, and it starts all over again.

Curious George said...

The funnier the comedian the darker the past.

prairie wind said...

TMink is one of the most consistently kind posters on here, and I agree with Sixty much of the time. I am quite sure good intentions were behind it but "You could learn from that," struck me as a bit condescending, too. I can see how Sixty would react the way he did.

Hearing Sixty talk about his monsters makes me grateful all over again for my folks.

As for Darrell, I don't know what to think. It is convenient that his parents aren't around for us to judge their reactions. Does he have siblings?

The funnier the comedian the darker the past. Absolutely.

Methadras said...

Mommy hurt me, daddy hurt me. Really dude? You're a fucking adult. Grow up. Jesus, I'm tired of hearing how these wimps deal.

edutcher said...

I can sympathize. Unless you've been through it, an abusive parent is unending Hell on earth.

And the effects never really end, you just have to find a way to get past it.

And that's the tough part.

Kudos to Hammond, whose work I've enjoyed, for finding his way.

E.M. Davis said...

Mommy hurt me, daddy hurt me. Really dude? You're a fucking adult. Grow up. Jesus, I'm tired of hearing how these wimps deal.

The thing is, he did grow up. He became a success. He didn't take it out on the rest of society. He became productive, even through everything. It's inevitable, however, that he's going to talk about it and rehash it at some point in his life.

William said...

I used to think that my childhood would score pretty high for misery and chaos on the Dickens Scale. But that was just me being grandiose. As it turns out, there are many, many people who suffered far more ghastly horrors than I......The up side: People with happy childhoods are sometimes traumatized when they discover life sucks, and they spend their lives mourning the ruined mansions of past content. I've got my scars and limps, but nothing in life was ever as bad as my childhood.

Pogo said...

I think there is something wonderful to learn from folks like Sixty who did come through shit and thrive nonetheless, something useful for Darrell Hammond.

TMink is doing Sysiphean labor to aid recovery among the traumatized. These folks don't have that grace Sixty received, and need a whole lot of work to get better.

I took his comment as more one of reminding us not to be too dismissive of their plight.

Paddy O said...

The trouble with the advice "get over it" is that people don't. They ignore it, maybe, or they forget it, for a while, but it's all still there. And if it doesn't get out directly, it is reflected in all sorts of other actions and interpersonal relationships.

That 'get over it' mentality was such a feature of the WWII generation, but as Baby Boomers love to remind us, there was a distinct dysfunction in the parenting and relationships for so many.

That precisely why the whole 'get over it' mentality is so cowardly. Instead of dealing with the issue as the issue, it involves running away from the issue and inflicting the resonating effects on everyone else, often in postures of machismo.

"Deal with it" is much better than "get over it", because the human psyche doesn't get over trauma, but it can re-orient itself back to proper functioning if it is able to address the trauma for what it is.

That's precisely why confession is such a healing spiritual discipline. It's a ruthless honesty about ourselves in a way that seek the way forward.

At the same time, there's no doubt that people take their problems and make them a sad source of identity. Dwelling on their dysfunction becomes their way of facing the world, not moving past them but embracing it. Those people really do need to deal with it and move on. Getting over it is definitely a good goal, but not a good first step.

TMink said...

ricpic, THAT is a great question! It is almost as difficult to overcome systematic indulgence. I think it is easier for people who understand that they have been abused to want to try to fix it, when over indulged people have no sense that they ever need to fix or alter themselves or their choices.

Trey

TMink said...

60, I will likely never learn to keep my judgments to myself on a blog with a comment section! I mean, it is the point of the whole thing to discuss, is it not?

I was not completely fortunate, while my family was kind I was abused outside the home. But since my family was kind and supportive, it was much easier for me than Mr. Hammond. And maybe much easier than it was for you.

I am just suggesting that you would benefit from some compassion and empathy for the pain of others. And maybe even your own.

Trey

TMink said...

prarie, thank you for your feedback. I was offended by the callous disregard for someone's tragedy and that showed up as a condescending attitude.

So good feedback and guilty as charged.

Now I need to figure out if I regret being condescending or not! I certainly did mean to call it out, but I am not so sure I meant to sound so condescending. It is not the first time I have received such accurate feedback (but never so kindly as you put it, thank you) but it will take me some time to figure out if I could have made the point better.

And it is difficult for me to parse out. It is difficult, for me at least, to call out behavior without sounding condescending. But I really believe that some behaviors are worth calling out.

I would be wise, I think, to adopt your gentle ways, but I am far from there at present. I will get back to you, but thanks for making me think!

Trey

Sixty Grit said...
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Pogo said...

Well said, PaddyO.

It's hard to get over something when you don't know how.

It's not an easy DYI project. Like telling someone to 'build a house', though lacking both skill and material.

Shit, some guys still mess up simple plumbing repairs after decades of practice.

TMink said...

Methadras, I do not think you understand or appreciate the depth of some abuse. I agree that normal parental mistakes are often blown up in our victim culture. But then there are horror stories that can be verified that are another case entirely.

Just this morning I met a woman who watched her stepfather drill a hole in her sister's hand with an electric drill. Then there are the little boys whose mom sewed their lacerations up at home with a needle and thread because she knew her boyfriend would go to jail once the emergency room docs figured out that the lacerations were from him using a weed eater on a 5 and 4 year old.

I could go on. And on.

People who are professional victims need to be cut off and forced to make their own way through the world. For their own good. But people who really were horrible abused would really benefit and make could use of just a little kindness and understanding.

Well, that is how I think. And I am sticking to it.

Trey

TMink said...

60, I was in a quandry there for awhile. You solved that for me!

You are a putz!

But find a good therapist and work on it hard for 2 to 5 years and you can be much better.

Good luck on that!

Trey

Sixty Grit said...
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Anne B. said...

"As for Darrell, I don't know what to think. It is convenient that his parents aren't around for us to judge their reactions."

If his Dear Old Toxic Psycho Mom was anything like mine, the reaction would be to turn on the tears and to deny that anything like that had ever happened, "oh, no, you must have dreamed it." And then as soon as any hearers/witnesses were gone, the tears would dry up and out would come the claws.

MayBee said...

We aren't really programed to just get over our childhoods, right? The way our brains process information and learning is different in childhood than it is in later decades, and our adult brain function is programmed based on what we've already learned.

As for Hammond, I would say becoming a comedian and abusing drugs was his way of "getting over it". Imperfect, but better than becoming an abuser himself, or finding no way to contribute to society.

TMink said...

MayBee, wonderful point. But I can correct the last paragraph, abuse survivors are less likely to abuse others than people who were not abused. It is people who grew up with domestic violence that are more likely to perpetrate abuse.

Trey

TMink said...

I always get a kick out of the folks who want to sick the licensing board on me. Someone says it about avery 5 months or so. Freedom of thought and speech is hard to swallow for some people, so they appeal to an imagined authority.

But I have to admit, I do not hold opinions and views close to the liberal elite like most shrinks. That is why I am good at what I do.

Trey

Sixty Grit said...
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