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"If you can't keep the bad thoughts out, at least you can make fun of them while they're there."
—Harry Dresden, Turn Coat
Found often amongst troops and superhero teams, the Sad Clown is the wisecracking funnyman who uses humor as a coping mechanism. Usually of the groan-inducing kind. He is totally insecure at heart and keeps on running his mouth to fool himself into thinking he's confident or to get people to like him.
This character tends to make Dude, Not Funny jokes at inappropriate times to cope. He does not, however, go out of his way to be a Monster Clown (which is sometimes his path to being a Magnetic Hero: his ability to endear himself to others despite his issues and theirs).
Often put in more serious series to add some comic relief, while at the same time secretly revealing to the audience that the character is a simmering pot of hidden insecurities and angst, just like everyone else in the cast.
- Izumi from Martian Successor Nadesico is a one-woman Hurricane of Puns. We never get the full story, but one episode reveals she only became like this after her fiance died in an accident. When she's forced to relive it she nearly turns suicidal.
- Not just one dead boyfriend. TWO.
- The eponymous character of Naruto ditches the joking clown for more of a mad jester routine, constantly insulting others, creating nicknames, and pulling annoying pranks. Much of this results from his insecurities after growing up as a reviled orphan, where the negative attention he got via his acts was still better than what he got by acting normal.
- Iruka is implied to have been like this, having lost both his parents to the Nine-Tailed Fox. Unlike Naruto, he did not have to deal with being hated, but he acted the way he did to ease his loneliness.
- GB (a.k.a. 007) from Cyborg 009. His backstory changes in every animated continuity, and yet none of them are pretty.
- An older, calmer, more mentor-like version is Doctor Abel Geiger from Ashita no Nadja. Complete with one of the saddest back stories in the series.
- Rare female example: Anna Heart from Kaleido Star, a Bifauxnen artist from the Kaleido Stage who wants to be a comedian, but hides how deeply hurt she's been after her father Jack (a.k.a. "Baron Jack") left her and her mother Julia.
- For theat matter, Jack was one of these too. The reason why he left is that he was swindled by his manager, and left home because he couldn't face Julia and Anna as well as the crash of his dreams. And he was getting worse, evolving into a very embittered Stepford Snarker who told cruel jokes that mocked everyone (something he had never done in the past) until Anna got to confront him. Thankfully, they got better.
- Usopp from One Piece.
- Possibly Luffy as well, considering the things we've learned about his past in the last few years. After his complete and utter breakdown after Ace's death, it becomes devastatingly clear that underneath his cool, strong Idiot Hero exterior, there's a scared little boy who's terrified that he's too weak to protect his loved ones, and that he's generally no where near as innocent and carefree as he might want you to believe.
- Brook practically runs on this trope, being a walking pun factory on the subject of his supernatural disfigurement. At inappropriate times? You bet. Internal monologue and a very blunt conversation with Franky have made it clear enough that he's not really all that happy with being a skeleton, though...and then he was put on display in a freak show cage for crowds to scream at in disgust. Then he met the "get people to like him" criteria in truly epic fashion. It's good to be the Soul King.
- Sasame flirts (heh) with this trope in the manga version of Prétear. He's constantly flirting with the main character and teasing the other knights, and at first it seems like he takes NOTHING seriously... but several scenes hint that he's not quite as much of a jokester as it seems. This particularly comes into play when he reveals he was in love with the Big Bad in the past, and you consider what happened to the anime version because of that...
- Duo Maxwell from Gundam Wing tries to be the moodmaker for the Gundam Pilots, and is certainly the cheeriest and goofiest of the group. He's also got a particularly tragic past (orphan, lost his best friend to disease because only the rich people got the vaccine, bounced between foster homes before settling in a church with a caring priest and sister, only to lose them to a pointless battle) and refers to himsef as "Shinigami", not boasting about his ability to kill enemy pilots but because the specter of Death seems to hover around him at all times.
- A more literal example is Trowa Barton Triton Bloom, who works in a circus as a clown, but is as far from goofy as one can get.
- There's a female one in Hana no Ko Lunlun. Sophia the Norwegian Circus Brat is embarrassed about working as a clown in her family's circus (despite having the talent to do so) and lies to Lunlun about actually being a Cute Monster Girl instead. With Lunlun's help she discovers that it's actually fun to make people laugh.
- Break from Pandora Hearts teases everyone mercilessness, smiles constantly and has a ventriloquist (probably) act going with a doll he keeps on his shoulder. And is as utterly broken as if not more so than anyone else in the main cast.
- Beast Boy/Changeling from Teen Titans, in both the comic and the animated series.
- Iceman from the X-Men.
- Spider-Man himself is a rare example of a main character being the Sad Clown.
Iron Man: I can't help but notice- the closer I get to an uncomfortable truth, the more lame jokes you start making.
- Iron Man himself verges on this at times, especially when Matt Fraction writes him.
- In Marvel Zombies, Spidey drives the other zombies crazy with the constant, irritating jokes he keeps making. When told to cut it out, he informs them that he makes jokes to help himself forget that he's become a flesh-eating evil lunatic.
- Mentioned in Watchmen throughout flashbacks of Eddie Blake (a.k.a. The Comedian). "But Doctor...I am Pagliacci!"
- Plastic Man from DC Comics is often accused of this, denying it every time. Whether he is lying or not depends on your interpretation.
- Dick Grayson has basically been retconned into this in his youth. He was the first Robin, and his history is largely unchanged: he was the same person cracking jokes and facing down villains and making terrible, terrible puns. However, his parents were murdered in front of him, and his adoptive father figure has been transformed into always having been a brooding creature of darkness, so he was covering for something. As Nightwing, he's less of this, being relatively well-adjusted, all things considered.
- If the memories of The Joker in The Killing Joke (wherein "Jack" loses his wife, the baby inside her and his face in one day) are to be believed, he plays this trope absolutely straight. The heartbreaking finale wherein both the Monster Clown and Batman hysterically laugh at the cruelty of their lives drives in just how deeply both these men have been hurt; Joker in particular must substitute laughter for tears, or the ponderous weight of his sadness would crush what little will to live there is left inside.
- Pol Pitron from Yoko Tsuno.
- Although he is a genuinely happy-go-lucky person, Morph has instances of this in both his Age of Apocalypse and Exiles incarnations, which results in teammates telling him to shut up and be serious for once. When he does, it tends to be heartbreaking.
- His original incarnation in the X-Men TV series was like this too, and it was just as sad to see his real psyche.
- In the Gargoyles spin-off 'Bad Guys', Fang is revealed to be a Sad Clown. He's just as shocked and horrified as everyone else to find out Tasha hung herself. He just dealt with it by making an inappropriate light bulb joke.
- The zombie-like Ghoul of The Ultraverse, who does it to cope with being The Grotesque.
- Deadpool is often written like this. In the first arc of Cable & Deadpool, Cable asks why he's helping an Assimilation Plot that could be the first step to world peace, but would ultimately take away Deadpool's right to an opinion. Deadpool replies that his opinions just cover up the fact that he doesn't really have anything.
- Yorick from Y the Last Man continues to crack lame jokes despite being the only male survivor of the Gendercide, to the frustration of his traveling companions.
- The Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations trilogy:
- Since the first series, Mitsuzane is played with this realistically plus with the Jerkass and Troll variety. His sarcastic and Nice Guy personality is merely a front to fit into people around him; and constantly cracks jokes mostly at the expense of anyone around him. His tendency to joke around to serves as the purpose to cope with bad situations, the traumatic experiences of Kouta and Mai's supposed deaths, as well as his own failures as a person.
- Gou Shijima (aka, Kamen Rider Mach), just like in the Kamen Rider Drive canon, is often written to be this. Especially that it has anything to do with Chase. He got better when Chase is Back From the Dead for real.
- Played for Out-of-Character Moment with Kuroto Dan in Volume 3. Large Ham he may be, if ever confronted in a situation that takes a turn for the worse, especially in regards with a Patient Zero Serial Killer Killer murdering criminals through the Reaper Bugster, Kuroto suddenly becomes cynical and somewhat depressed as he felt guilty for Reaper's existence, which just came out of nowhere.
- Jerry Lewis made a movie The Day the Clown Cried about a depressed, formerly great German circus clown during the Holocaust. It was never finished nor released, however. Lewis realizing mid-production that the movie was the definition of Dude, Not Funny. It was locked in the vault, and has since become a Hollywood legend.
- The 1930 German film The Blue Angel uses this trope for dramatic effect, as the main character's loss of dignity, fall in society and descent into madness are punctuated by his donning of a clown costume. His first performance in full clown make-up, where he is continuously debased and forced to crow like a cock, is the climax of the movie and shows just how pathetic the once proud man has become.
- Buttons the Clown from The Greatest Show on Earth certainly qualifies: he's a former doctor on the run from the law for mercy-killing his wife. The fact that Buttons is played by Jimmy Stewart makes it awesome.
- This is pretty much the entire plot of Vulgar, the Backstory of the View Askew clown.
- Gelsomina from Federico Fellini's La Strada. So ever much.
- Lampshaded in Quick Change by Grimm (played by Bill Murray), who plays a bank robber dressed as a clown, with dynamite strapped to his chest.
Security guard: (when Grimm shows him the dynamite) What the hell kinda clown are you?!
- The protagonist of The Last Circus is one.
- The clown in The Illusionist who drinks and listens to happy circus music. He did try to kill himself at one point, but Alice unknowingly stopped him.
- Suggested as the In-Character motivation of Giacomo the Jester (Well... Hubert Hawkins' interpretation of Giacomo anyway) in The Court Jester, via the song The Maladjusted Jester. In brief, he was a morose child who didn't laugh much, to the concern and frustration of his parents. The consulted a witch who forsaw his talent for performance and comedy, much to the bafflement of everyone.
- The Pagliaccio joke:
A man goes to a doctor, claiming he's depressed. He feels as if the world doesn't care about his problems, as if he's the pole the universe pisses on. The doctor ponders the man's problems, unsure of what to do, until suddenly he remembers: "The circus is in town, and Pagliaccio the clown is there! Why don't you go see his show, I'm sure that'll cheer you up." The man breaks down crying and sobs "But I am Pagliaccio the clown!!"
- Ephraim Kishon uses the joke in a different context. His joke starts the same way, but at the end the patient says instead: "Doctor, I've been at the circus, I've seen Pagliaccio. He wasn't funny at all. He was the unfunniest clown I've ever seen." The doctor breaks down: "But mister... I'm Pagliaccio!"
- Tyrion Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire is a deformed dwarf who is widely hated for his infirmities. He develops into a brutally Deadpan Snarker as a coping mechanism, which, as he admits himself, only makes things worse.
- Marco from Animorphs. It's stated many times that joking is the only way he can deal with the difficult and dangerous situations he's constantly put in, and that his mother is Visser One's host. Differs from the norm in actually being hilarious.
- What really kills about this one is that it clearly doesn't work; over the course of the series he goes from being incredibly emo and depressed to losing his humanity to the point that even Rachel was occasionally horrified by his actions.
- Another K. A. Applegate example, Christopher from Everworld is almost an Expy of Marco, but with a darker personality, being a budding alcoholic and purposefully making racial or gender-based comments to offend people. And he's not funny.
- Another great example is Gwynplaine, the title character of Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs. The film version, starring Conrad Veidt, invented the Slasher Smile.
- Stephen King examples: Richie Tozier from IT, Eddie Dean and (especially) Cuthbert Allgood from The Dark Tower.
- Silk from the Belgariad openly admits at one point that he makes jokes because the alternative is to break down crying.
- In a rare moment of honesty, he stated that one of the reasons for his sadness was that, being perhaps the greatest spy ever, he had so many multilayered cover-identities that he had lost himself somewhere under them.
- The Dresden Files's Harry Dresden, who "follow[s] the tao of Peter Parker"; see the page quote. Everyone and everything in the universe appears to have it in for him because Being Good Sucks; he responds by making terrible jokes, even when this is not strictly in the interests of self-preservation.
- Clone commando R C- 8015, 'Fi', starts out merely with wisecracks. Over time, however, his mood darkens, but he continued to amuse his squad mates with jokes. His tend to be a touch morbid, but very funny.
- The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures' Fitz Kreiner. Hardly ever stops cracking jokes, to the point people get mildly annoyed on principle. He was born in London four years prior to the beginning of World War II and is half-German, for which he was severely bullied. By the time he turned eighteen, his father was dead and his mum was insane. In the first novel he appears in, he's told a joke he makes about his own angsty Backstory is Dude, Not Funny He also tends to make jokes when he's nervous about things like aliens that want to eat his face. The more nervous he gets, the worse the jokes.
- Bryan Stark, the main character in the teen series DRAMA!, is a mild example of this.
- In Robert Heinlein's Stranger in A Strange Land, Martian-raised Mike has difficulty understanding humor, until he draws the conclusion that all humor serves basically this purpose: "They laugh because they hurt so much. Because it's the only thing that will make them stop hurting."
- Members of the Fools' Guild in Discworld often lapse into this, sometimes forgetting if they're supposed to be "happy on the outside or crying on the inside, or the other way 'round." This is understandable, since the Fools generally don't lead pleasant lives. Indeed, it is common knowledge on the Disc that Fools simply cannot be actually funny ("if it was funny, a clown wouldn't be doing it"), and clowns are regarded as inherently pitiful or scary, rather than comedic.
- Exemplifying this is the fact that the guildhall is often mistaken for that of the Assassins, which is actually the light, airy building next door.
- According to Word of God, the Fools' Guildhall began as a monastery for a particularly sombre group of monks, and the founder of the Fools' Guild was shaped in his philosophy towards comedy by the fact that A: he was honestly nowhere near as funny as he believed himself to be, B: a mindset that convinced him that jokes and humour were Serious Business and should be treated with great dignity and respect, and C: the very pronounced trait of Discwolders, especially those in Ankh-Morpork, to be realistic and literal-minded to the point of being deliberately obtuse, which doesn't make joking a very easy matter. The result is that generations of Fools have had their emotions crushed and any actual knack for humor (not to mention desire to make people laugh) stamped out of them.
- Exemplifying this is the fact that the guildhall is often mistaken for that of the Assassins, which is actually the light, airy building next door.
- Leo from The Heroes of Olympus. He jokes to deal with the loss of his mom. And they're actually funny, unlike most Sad Clowns.
- Nick Sagan's Idlewild has Mercutio, who describes his coping methods as "Humor? That's my lizard tail. You can look at that while I run away."
- In The Wide Window, the characters patronize a rather miserably awful restaurant called The Anxious Clown. Guess what all the waiters are dressed up as.
- Ray Person, from Generation Kill, although his insecurity isn't the only thing fueling his hilarious, uber-offensive humor- it's also the fact that he's generally on almost no sleep and on a near-permanent caffeine high thanks to his ever-present bottle of Ripped Fuel. Averted in the finale (and, after the war, in real life) when extra interviews show the real Ray as a generally quiet, yet outspoken man.
- Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Chandler from Friends is a rare example from a comedy series. This was Lampshaded quite early on, when Phoebe's psychiatrist boyfriend, as part of his schtick of alienating everyone by pointing out uncomfortable truths, said, "I'd hate to be there when the laughter stops."
- To some extent, George Luz from Band of Brothers.
- Jack O'Neill of Stargate SG-1, a rare commanding officer example, who gets close to Dangerously Genre Savvy.
- As Season One progressed, Dean went from pure comic relief to being a sad, lost little boy who really wanted his family back together and who wise-cracks only to mask that nasty pain.
- Trickster/Gabriel. He ran away from Heaven to escape the fight, spent a very long time teaching people the error of their ways through wicked deadly tricks, only for it to be discovered that, behind all the black humor, he was really just scared to get involved. All in all, he's just a very heartbroken kid who invested too much of himself in his family to watch them destroy themselves. He spends much of his time onscreen trying use the Winchesters to prove to himself that he was right to run.
- Hawkeye Pierce of M* A* S* H was once accused of this. He was quite offended, and spent the rest of the episode refusing to joke.
- While talking to his therapist, Tony Soprano of The Sopranos describes himself as a "Sad Clown": putting on a happy, joking face to his family and friends while keeping his pain locked away. His claims come across more as self-pitying than anything else, given his behavior throughout the series.
- Lee in the Britcom Not Going Out has been accused of being one of these by other characters, to the point of being cajoled into seeing a therapist.
- Star Trek: Voyager's Neelix is one of these when he's at the top of his game.
- The majority of the cast in Roseanne.
- Keen Eddie: Throughout most of the show, Monty makes several ill-timed and insensitive jokes, warranting Eddie to suggest that he has no soul, but after getting snapped at for joking in the face of Eddie's life-or-death situation, Monty admits that he uses humor to cope with situations that worry or frighten him, siting how he laughed all through his uncle's funeral.
- Shawn in Psych. He admits that he relies on jokes and inappropriate humor to defuse tough situations, and when his funny breaks in "An Evening With Mr. Yang", Gus takes up his Sad Clown mantle to help him stay calm.
- Depending on the Writer, Tony from NCIS can fit this to a T or seem more genuinely clownish.
- Hugo from Lost is usually seen as a jovial, Comic Relief kind of a character, especially in the first season. In his flashbacks, however, he is portrayed in a much more serious manner and develops into one of the most Genre Savvy and solution-oriented survivors.
- The Doctor from Doctor Who, especially in the new series. In the words of his actor Matt Smith, "That’s what interests me about The Doctor because, actually, look at the blood on the man’s hands. 900 years, countless very selfish choices, and he’s literally blown planets up. His own race, you know, that’s all on his hands. Which is why I think he has to make silly jokes and wear a fez. Because if he didn’t, he’d hang himself."
- Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, whose constant self-aggrandizing wisecracking, over-the-top stunts (everything from magic tricks to kidnapping his friends), and ridiculous womanizing antics are a mask to hide how utterly insecure and self-loathing he is inside, and how desperately dependent on his friends he is, by trying to make himself look like a loose cannon who is too awesome and confident to need anyone.
- It's pretty much a guarantee that male contestants on The Biggest Loser who have boisterous, jokey personalities are hiding major self-esteem issues caused by their weight.
- Smokey Robinson and the Miracles have two songs which fit this trope: Tears of a Clown ("ain't too much sadder than the tears of a clown when no-one's around") and Tracks of My Tears ("Take a good look at my face — you'll see my smile looks out of place. Look closer, it's easy to trace the tracks of my tears.")
- Eminem describes himself as this in Beautiful.
- See the Funny Little Clown by Bobby Goldsboro is literally about this, with the same "I am Pagliacci!" twist at the end.
- Gary Lewis and the Playboys - everybody loves a clown, so why don't you?
- "I'm a Loser" by The Beatles ("although I laugh and I act like a clown, beneath this mask I am wearing a frown.")
- "Sad Clown" by Jars of Clay.
- The Diddy-Dirty Money song "Coming Home" invokes this in the first verse, namechecking "Tears of a Clown" and saying "it always sounds like it's talking to me when it comes on."
- Vocaloid offers us Pierrot by Hatsune Miku, and maybe the title character of Five the Pierrot by Kagamine Len Append Power (as hinted in the bridge before the last chorus).
- A few songs from Insane Clown Posse's "Hell's Pit", particularly "Manic Depressive".
- Voltaire's song "You Married A Fool."
- Canio, from the opera Pagliacci, is without a doubt the sad clown. Literally. In fact, he's so sad that he gets violent and turns into a Monster Clown.
- While we're in the opera world, there's also Rigoletto from Verdi's Rigoletto. Violence included, too. Costing him the life of his dear daughter Gilda.
- Jack Point from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard. He is a literal jester, which helps. The whole show is full of Commedia Del Arte character types.
- Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet makes Incredibly Lame Puns even as he lies dying, along with A Plague on Both Your Houses.
- Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, a sad and lonely clown exiled on the Moon embarking on an eerie and symbolic journey. This character, from Belgian poet Albert Giraud, has been a fascination of early 20th century composers: Karol Rathaus composed a ballet about him.
- Launcelot in The Merchant of Venice. His angst about wanting to leave his master vs. wanting to do the right thing gets Played for Laughs, as does his resentment of his father (who apparently cheated on his mother) and his sorrow at having to say goodbye to his only friend, Shylock's daughter Jessica. Alternate Character Interpretation has led to many a production implying that he's in love with Jessica, and he masks his sorrow that she chose Lorenzo over him by making some particularly cutting jokes about her parentage (as well as repeatedly trying to one-up Lorenzo in battles of wits).
- Turns up pretty often with Cirque Du Soleil, who have a habit of blurring the lines in traditional circus roles.
- Zelos from Tales of Symphonia - seems the most cheerful and confident, but he's probably the most messed-up of the lot. And that's saying something.
- Ace Attorney's Moe is definitely a good guy at heart, but his jokes are bad and everybody ends up hating him. It makes you feel bad for him.
- When you put it that way, it puts a different spin on his promotion to ringmaster.
- Mostly the problem was that he was so stressed in court he veered wildly between trying to turn his testimony into a comedy act and behaving like a put-upon child. Outside of court he's at least tolerable (not least because you don't have to tread on eggshells trying to get information out of him for fear that the judge will get pissed enough to pronounce your client guilty out of spite alone).
- Luke Atmey in the third game describes himself at this. He may actually fit the definition, though not in the sense that he intends. It's all in the name.
- When you put it that way, it puts a different spin on his promotion to ringmaster.
- Junpei from Persona 3 makes terrible jokes, has all the sex appeal of a snail, and sometimes displays extremely poor judgment when fighting Shadows. However, all of this is simply an off-shoot of his personal insecurity, as he is fully aware of his own limitations and believes that he will never make anything out of himself in life. Similar to Yukari, he also comes from a one-parent household, and lives in the dormitories just so he can get away from his alcoholic father.
- Alistair from Dragon Age fits this trope perfectly (apparently, his personality was based on Xander from Buffy). He is arguably the biggest Woobie in the game, but tries to compensate for his deep-seated insecurities and painful childhood through sarcasm and witty but misplaced one-liners.
- In Dragon Age II when you play Hawke in a humorous and sarcastic style, s/he may very well come off as this, especially after his/her mother's murder.
- Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI is given this as an Alternative Character Interpretation in Dissidia Final Fantasy. He's trying to kill everyone and destroy everything while laughing maniacally because he can no longer see the point in anything else, and his last laugh (after he dies) is a sobbing, sad one.
Firion [pre-match, if facing Kefka]: I've never heard a sadder laugh.
- Commander Shepard of Mass Effect can be played like this. S/He'll even be called on it occasionally.
- Sometimes s/he'll do this whether you choose to or not. S/he may be a Badass but s/he goes through a lot of crap.
- Joker is also confirmed to be this in the third game, where a particularly inappropriate joke after the destruction of Thessia gets a Dude, Not Funny What the Hell, Hero? from Shepard. He then finally lets us know what he's really thinking, and it's not nice.
- Pretty much any teammate who makes jokes can be considered this, due to the fact that they all have issues of their own, and the entire galaxy's going to hell. Kasumi Goto is possibly the only joker who is an exception to this, as even though she does have problems in her past, she genuinely seems to have moved past them (unless she's just really good at covering them up).
- A clown in Fantasy Quest turns out to be sad indeed, mostly from his lack of a nose.
- Depending on your interpretation, Torg from Sluggy Freelance.
- Faye from Questionable Content.
- The Poz in You Damn Kid, goofs off because he loves the attention...due to the fact that his father beats him and his mother is an alcoholic.
- Carl from Soul Symphony constantly cracks jokes and makes fun of others, but gets a little more serious when discussing the near-extinction of his race of creature.
- Raimi Matthews from Broken Saints does not have a happy past, and probably turned into a Deadpan Snarker to dull the pain of reality.
- Sean O'Cann of Survival of the Fittest, to which the above quote applies almost perfectly. Prior to the point in the game (Day 3) that he found out his best friend, boy friend, and cousin died (three different people, before anyone says anything) he still cracked a joke every now and then. Afterward though, Sean begins making all sorts of remarks, not all of which are in the best taste, and sometimes are just plain offensive.
- Evan in Everyman HYBRID is the most affected by the Sanity Slippage caused by the group's dealings with the Slender Man and other assorted problems; he also tries to lighten pretty much every situation, cracking jokes while exploring creepy abandoned buildings or even while dealing with a monster literally hiding in a closet at a friend's house. The latter is likely the best example of his humor backfiring for those around him, as he pulled this after said monster violently assaulted his friend's brother.
- Related to the example below, a lot of the comedy (the character-based, at least) in The Nostalgia Critic is based on how unhappy he is with his life.
- The Nostalgia Chick is also deeply depressed and tries to hide it with Black Comedy and cynical sarcasm.
- Dragon Ball Z The Abridged Series: Cracking awkward, horribly inappropriate jokes seems to be how Krillen deals with all the crap he's put through.
- Phase of the Whateley Universe. Since he narrates his own novels, the reader gets to see just how emotionally damaged he really is, even though he refuses to admit it to anyone (except the school shrink).
- Notably not the Flash on Justice League, as illustrated nicely in the episode Flash and Substance. Some people just don't seem to get it.
Orion: I understand now. You play the clown to hide a warrior's pain.
- It is possible that the high-energy lifestyle and constant peppiness could be a result of him being aware of how dangerous his powers actually are to himself and the people around him, but it's less about masking angst and more about thoroughly enjoying every moment he gets.
- In a more literal example, we have Krusty the Klown from The Simpsons
Homer: Let's tell Krusty! That guy's hilarious!
- Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. His cheerful exterior and funloving personality is a way to cope and ignore the guilt he faced for running away from his home and people and getting frozen, allowing the Fire Nation to wage war for a century, wiping out his people. He finally faced his guilt later on when he was mentored by Guru Pathik.
- Iroh arguably counts as well. Underneath his goofy facade he's just a father grieving the loss of his son.
- Chuckles the Clown in Toy Story 3 became this after Lotso took over Sunnyside Daycare, though he starts smiling a little again during the ending credits.
- Weasel in The Animals of Farthing Wood is constantly making insulting wisecracks, more frequently when they are more inappropriate.
- In Batman the Brave And The Bold Plastic Man admits to this himself in the episode "Cry Freedom Fighters!" after Batman expresses his skepticism about him joining the eponymous team.
Plastic Man: C'mon, Bats. No one's ever wanted me to be a part of their team. Even the League threw me out. Give me a chance to be a part of something - to prove to myself that I'm not a three-time loser.
- Some fans of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic have pegged Pinkie Pie as one of these. In "Party of One", the constantly-cheerful party pony is quick to fall into a funk when she thinks her friends don't want to come to her parties anymore.
- Aku in Samurai Jack's fifth season. Aku is no longer the Laughably Evil of a Big Bad he was when he's reduced to a crestfallen mess after failing to kill his archnemesis for after 50 years - even worse that Jack doesn't age as a side effect of sending him into the future. One of the most funny things about Aku in Season 5 is having a therapy session with himself.
- Real world crime-scene clean up crews absolutely must treat their gruesome jobs with a snarky sense of humour, otherwise the job's nearly impossible.
- Seriously... nearly any comedian/comedy writer/comedy performer you can think of will fall into this trope. Will Ferrell is the only comedian who comes to mind who specifically stated they do not fall into this trope. Even Jimmy Fallon revealed he had suicidal tendencies at one point. "A humorist is someone who feels bad, but feels good about it."
- Peter Sellers is probably the best example, so much so that a book and film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers was devoted to this.
- It's startlingly common for comedians to suffer from major depression. Lenny Bruce, Jim Carrey, Owen Wilson, Robin Williams, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, most of the Pythons, Groucho Marx, Bill Oddie...
- Chris Farley. It killed him.
- Arguably, also John Belushi.
- Christopher Titus.
"This right here is the difference between paycheck and nightly bed check."
- Russell Brand. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and had Bulimia as a child. He also used to have terrible cutting incidents and numerous addictions. As he himself puts it, "My biggest problem is that I have lived an autobiography rather than a life."
- Ringo Starr.
- Also John Lennon, who used his reputation as "the witty Beatle" as a mask to cover up his massive insecurity, which he even confessed to in "I'm A Loser" (as quoted above).
- Chilean lawyer and reality show star Juan Cristobal Foxley, nicknamed "Dandy Chileno" ("Chilean Dandy"). Article in Spanish is here.
- Tony Hancock.
- Kenneth Williams.
- Richard Lewis. As if it wasn't obvious before he publicly admitted his problems with depression and began making an effort to help others with the same problem.
- Gene Wilder. Incredibly so. One can even sense a profound sadness in his hammiest performances.
- The Great Zucchini. Wildly successful children's entertainer for people like Sasha and Malia Obama on the one hand; deeply indebted gambling addict desperately trying to hold his life together on the other hand. Thankfully, he got better.
- PG Wodehouse parodied this in the foreword for The Clicking of Cuthbert, an anthology of golf-related stories, where he wrote that he didn't use to fit this trope, but now he does, because he started playing golf.
- While he isn't like this himself, Doug Walker has said that a lot of comedy is based on misery and that it works like a defense mechanism. Ask That Guy, for example, talks about horrible things, but you can laugh at him because he's so vile and pitiable.
- Soviet 1920s-1930s satire writer Mikhail Zoshchenko suffered from severe depression. His semi-autobiographical book Before Sunrise was initially banned by the Soviet censors, as its themes of depression ran against the triumphalism and optimism of Socialist Realism.
- Chester Bennington of Linkin Park is the known jokester of the band. The guy had problems with alcohol, sexual abuse, drugs and depression prior to becoming the band's frontman. Said problems lead to his untimely death .
- Shia LaBeouf may have been a walking Fountain of Memes as of lately (namely his "Just Do It!" motivational speech and being the subject to a Rob Cantor-inspired satirical composition), but dear Lord... For all his hardships, Shia has become a Shell-Shocked Veteran, from the rough upbringing and his rise to fame taking a toll on him makes you wonder how far he had fallen?