Jim Carrey started developing impressions as a child and used his comedic routine to entertain his family. Which was something his parents needed. Carrey was born in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada. His father ditched his dreams of being a musician and became an accountant when Jim and his siblings came along — something that Carrey said made his father disenchanted.
“To first of all give up a dream, to settle for something safe, and then have that not pan out is a real double whammy,” Carrey told Rolling Stone, noting that his parents both succumbed to bouts of depression.
Things got tough when Carrey was 12, when his father lost his job. The family spent eight months living in a tent until the father found work at a tire rim factory in Scarborough. As a bonus, the owners allowed the Carreys to live in a house across the street in exchange for janitorial and security detail. After school, Carrey and his brother had to pull eight-hour shifts, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s interview with the comedic actor.
Carrey’s mother was addicted to painkillers. “[S]he was always there for me, she was always there in the house,” Carrey told The Hollywood Reporter. “But if you're high on painkillers, that's abandonment. I guess we're all abandoned to a certain extent, all of us in some way or another by something or someone, and that forms in us our belief about ourselves.”
Carrey hated school and dropped out of school as soon as he turned 16. The family quit the factory gig sometime after, abandoned their job-provided home, jumped in a VW camper van and “lived like Gypsies,” he said. Eventually, Carrey got his big break when he opened for Rodney Dangerfield at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He then toured with Dangerfield for a couple of years, honing his act.