The Tragic Clowns

the tragic clowns

The Tragic Clowns: An Analysis of the Short Lives of John Belushi, Lenny Bruce, and Chris Farley. Paperback – October 17, 2009

by Joe Guse (Author)

This book provides a psychological profile of John Belushi, Lenny Bruce, and Chris Farley, and attempts to examine the pathos that exists in the inner worlds of comedians.

Editorial Reviews


Fascinating read!! This book goes well beyond the standard biography and provides in-depth psychological profiles of these three prominent comedians. –Psychological Review

Interesting connections in this book. Although each of these men died from drug overdoses, each had childhood patterns that drastically affected their adult lives. A fascinating way to write a biography. –Lulu Publications

As a lifelong resident of Chicago I saw John Belushi, Chris Farley, and even the author Joe Guse perform around the city, and therefore found this book particularly interesting. There has certainly been some debate regarding Belushi’s story between the Bob Woodward version and the family’s version and this book provides another potential explanation that looks at childhood patterns. From what I know about Farley this book also seems to provide some accurate possible insights into his behavior that looks at factors such as his how his religious beliefs contributed to his guilt and shame. Great book and well worth reading if your interested in psychology and comedy and how the two are intermingled. –Comedy Central –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Joe Guse is a former Chicago comedian now working as a psychotherapist. Joe is the author of 9 books.


Dr. Joe Guse is a former comedian from the Pacific Northwest, who performed around Chicago for several years before deciding to go into psychology as a career. Joe made this seemingly odd transition after working as an entertainer in nursing homes, where he found that there was a very strong relationship between laughter, resilience, and healing. This relationship between laughter and mental health has been the crux of Joe’s work as a psychotherapist, and he has since written 19 books on various topics detailing his experiences integrating laughter into his work. Joe works in private practice in Chicago, and also does seminars around the country helping people explore the relationship between humor and mental health in their own lives. Joe holds 2 Master’s degrees in Human Development and Counseling Psychology, and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. He is a Clinical Psychologist licensed in Illinois, Washington, New Zealand, and Australia.

Product details

  • Paperback: 138 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publis (October 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449550681
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449550684
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,511,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Interesting Read (But Poorly Edited)

February 2, 2013

Format: Paperback

I received this book as a gift as I have just arrived in Chicago myself to pursue a lifelong dream to be a famous comedian and attend The Second City. I have long been a fan of Chris Farley and John Belushi, Lenny Bruce, however, was less my style yet I found myself pretty interested in all three of the mens’ lives. Joe Guse does a good job examining the psychological developments that could have lead to the choices these men made in regards to their indulgences in drugs and more often than not, women. However, the book is poorly written, full of grammatical errors and often repeats itself in order to make a point; much like a 10th grade student would do with a research paper in order to fulfill a page requirement all the while still remaining relevant to the topic. I felt the structure of the book and its grammatical errors really hindered its content. I would love to see a revised edition, perhaps one with less repeating of the central ideas or conclusions, and more substance to support the claims.

Overall, I would recommend the book if you are interested in the life of any one of these famous comedians, however, I would recommend picking it up at your local library instead of purchasing, as the price point is rather high for a work that is lacking proper editing and took little over an hour to read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyrights 2019 | IHIK