His physical style of comedy was inspired by his desire to make his sick mother laugh and feel better.
Jim Carrey, one of the most successful comedians, has had a tough life. At the young age of 16, the actor was homeless and forced to drop out of school to help support his family.
During those dark times, Jim Carrey tapped into his humor to keep himself going which certainly paid off. The Ace Ventura actor said he cleaned an Ontario warehouse along with his family who was homeless and lived in a car. He also did an 8-hour shift while at school before dropping out at the age of 16 to work full time as a janitor, reported Insider.
His father, a saxophone player, had to fill in as an accountant but was laid off. "My family kinda hit the skids. We were experiencing poverty at that point. We all got a job, where the whole family had to work as security guards and janitors. And I just got angry," Carrey told CBS.
Unable to make rent, the family moved into their car—a yellow Volkswagen camper van— where they lived for eight months. “We lived in a van for a while, and we worked all together as security guards and janitors,” he told James Lipton on Inside the Actor’s Studio.
"A lot of people don't know this but when I was about 14 or 15, my father lost his job and I actually became homeless for quite some time, but of course, I grew up in Canada and I thought we'd gone camping," he recalled, according to Nickiswift. The Mask actor said working 8-hour shifts and then going to school took a heavy toll on his mental health. "I was angry at the world for doing that to my father. I wanted to bash somebody's head in, basically," he said.
But despite the hardships, he was already hustling and performing stand-up on the side and making inroads into the world of comedy but it would be a while before life got better for him. His talent stood out and within no time he was opening for big comedy acts like Rodney Dangerfield.
He also said his physical style of comedy was inspired by his desire to make his mother laugh. "I had a sick mom, man. I wanted to make her feel better. Basically, I think she laid in bed and took a lot of pain pills. And I wanted to make her feel better. And I used to go in there and do impressions of praying mantises, and weird things, and whatever. I'd bounce off the walls and throw myself down the stairs to make her feel better," he said.
Carrey was a prankster at school but also a really brilliant student. A teacher's comment on his report card perfectly sums up the person kid was — “Jim finishes his work first and then disrupts the class.” However, Carrey was struggling given he was hardly getting a wink of sleep. He went from a “straight-A student to not wanting to know anybody’s name, and not wanting to make a friend.”
He recalled his tough upbringing on The Howard Stern Show in 2003. He revealed that other workers often "mess with his head" by defecating in the sink. Carrey was forced to clean it all up but he told Stern that he learned a lot about himself during that period. He spoke to CBS about how hardships drove him. “I don’t think human beings learn anything without desperation,” he said. “Desperation is a necessary ingredient to learning anything or creating anything. Period. If you ain’t desperate at some point, you ain’t interesting.”
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Leon Bennett