No one would question that being a comedian takes an enormous amount of moxie, and few people possess as much moxie as Jim Carrey.
The rubber-faced, loose-limbed king of slapstick first burst onto the national consciousness with his breakout role as a cast member on “In Living Color,” one of the best sketch comedy shows to light up the small screen in the early 90s.
By the mid-90s, he’d made the leap to the silver screen with star roles in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber. All of those films capitalized on Carrey’s manic brand of humor.
But even in the midst of the zany antics, you can catch glimpses of something more. In this key scene in Dumb and Dumber, Carrey’s character Lloyd Christmas is trying to convince his best friend and roommate Harry to abandon their marginal existence in Providence, Rhode Island to seek adventure – and love – in Aspen, Colorado. The comedic banter takes an unexpectedly serious turn when Lloyd, gazing wistfully out the window, his voice soft and his expressive brown eyes brimming with unshed tears, says:
“I’m sick and tired of having to eke my way through life. I’m sick and tired of being a nobody. I’m sick and tired of having nobody.”
Carrey delivered the lines with deft subtlety, creating a lovely, heart-breaking moment pregnant with sincere longing. In that moment, the world got a preview of the Golden Globe-winning actor Jim Carrey would soon become.
A few observations about Carrey’s moxie:
Adversity builds character, and in Carrey’s case, it also builds characters. While he was a child, his father lost his job as an accountant. The Carrey family faced years of hardship, even living out of their van at one point. Carrey reportedly slept in his tap shoes, just in case he had to wake in the middle of the night and do an impromptu routine to cheer his family up. His jokes and hijinxs lifted his family’s spirits.
Without the challenges his family faced, would Jim Carrey have had the motivation and grit to succeed? Maybe. But without question, he used those challenges to equip himself with the perspective and work ethic he needed to succeed later on.
Moxie is a team sport. As they were struggling on the brink of poverty, the entire family pitched in to help, including young Jim, who dropped out of school to take a job as a janitor. In return, his parents fully supported his dreams of becoming a performer. His mother outfitted him for his very first standup comedy attempt at the age of 15, and his father drove him to the venue.
Carrey learned early on to be a team player, and he still surrounds himself with people he trusts and relies on them for advice, input and support. Success rarely happens in a vacuum.
Why not just go for it? His father also dreamed of performing, but went the safer route and became an accountant. Watching the illusion of safety and security get stripped away from his father was a revelation for young Jim. He realized that nothing was entirely safe and secure, so why not go after what he really wanted?
Chaotic enlightenment looks a lot like madness. The last several years of Carrey’s life have been marked by tumult. His ex-girlfriend, Cathriona White, committed suicide in September 2015. Since then, Carrey has been embroiled in accusations from her mother and ex-husband that he supplied her with the pills she used to take her life. Then, in October 2017, he embarked on a string of interviews where he declared he does not actually exist, and that nothing else actually exists, either. The manic, rambling interviews set tongues wagging about his stability and even his sanity.
But are his rantings simply his playful way of expressing a peace he has found with his life? Other reports and interviews seem to indicate that he’s sincerely exploring spirituality and actually gives deep thought and consideration to life and its meaning. The crazy interviews may just be part of his shtick.
Are you inspired by Carrey’s moxie? Share in the comments.