Comic Mackenzie Taylor takes his life

Suicide at 32

Comedian Mackenzie Taylor has died at the age of 32 after taking a fatal overdose of drugs.

The comic, writer and director had suffered from schizoaffective disorder disorder all his life, and often spoke of his mental health problems in his comedy.

He took his own life on Thursday at his home in Guildford, Surrey.

He previously attempted to commit suicide by taking an overdose at the Komedia comedy club in Brighton in 2008. He collapsed in the back of a gig, where he slipped into a coma that nearly killed him.

A statement from his family said: ‘ Mackenzie was a gentle, caring and loving son and brother. Despite suffering the demons of his illness, he always found time for others and had that special gift of bringing happiness to those around him.’

Producer Calvin Wynter, who worked with Taylor, said: ‘He will be sorely missed.’

Comic Dave Gorman had described Taylor as ‘playful, intelligent and very, very funny’.

The Evening Standard's comedy critic Bruce Dessau wrote of Taylor ‘finding comedy in the darkest of places’ and the Metro newspaper wrote that he was ‘quick, acerbic’ and had ‘comic timing down to a tee’.

Taylor, who lived in Surrey, started his comedy career in the sketch and improv group Wayward Council and was also one of the people behind Phone Book Live, in which guests attempted to be funny from reading out of the phone book.

His 2008 suicide attempt, following the break-up of a relationship, formed the basis of his acclaimed Edinburgh show the following year, No Straighjtacket Required.

He said of the show: ‘It isn't just about my suicide attempt. It's about more than that. It's about the 15 weeks that led up to that. It's about the 15 years of mental illness and it's about the 15 months after that.’

Earlier this year, he explained his illness – which encompasses elements of both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia – to a BBC reporter, saying: ‘I have some element of schizophrenia which means I see and hear things and have strange thoughts when I'm not manic or depressive.

‘Mania is just the best experience in the world, which is why it is so dangerous because you really do feel you can do anything, be anyone, challenge anything.

‘You're having the best time in the world, but you lose all sense of what reality is. It's a completely disingenuous high because it's based on absolutely nothing apart from a brain chemical that's gone wrong.’

In another interview, he said: ‘I think that laughter can be a coping mechanism. If you can laugh about something you kind of own it. So you have control over it if you can make a joke about it.’

Click here to hear him talking more about the illness.

Published: 20 Nov 2010

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