The tears of a clown - it's a cliche. But like a lot of cliches, there is a grain of truth in there. Humour is a coping mechanism. I think genuinely happy people tend not to need so many coping mechanisms. Basically, happy people do not need a sense of humour. Humour flourishes in grim times. This was brought home to me a couple of years ago. We had a really funny guy at work. He was everybody's pal and always had a great joke or on-the-nose quip. But as I got to know him better it turned out that he was actually a very bitter wee man. The few people he disliked, he hated with a depth that was almost indescribable. Underneath the class clown facade was actually a man weighed down heavily by his own sorrows. When I was a kid, I used to love the old Norman Wisdom comedy films on television. I used to have to pretend to go to bed at the same time as my wee brother but I could sneak back to the living room after he nodded off if their was a Norman Wisdom on after 7 p.m.. Years later, while working as a journalist in Inverness, I met Mr Wisdom. He turned out to be an oppressively serious and earnest man. Then he went on stage and it was as though a switch had been flipped. He was hilarious. Even though I had just seen the other side of him, I was laughing along with everyone else. Which is odd, I think, in view of our chat only minutes earlier. Then Mr Wisdom's public appearance ended and the switch flipped again. He was back to being incredibly serious. Not unpleasant or anything like that. Just really really earnest. I got the impression he was not an entirely happy chappy. So, I'm seldom surprised these days when I hear that the funniest people often do the saddest things.