Finding Humor in Cancer

Posted on April 12, 2011. Filed under: Events, storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , , |

At my most recent storytelling show, I performed a story about my dad dying of cancer.  The response surprised me.  I was truly worried that it would just make the audience uncomfortable – but they enjoyed it.  I got a lot of laughs and applause and, afterwards, a lot of people came up to me and said that my story really moved them – which also surprised me.  It was a pretty blue story, and definitely meant as humorous, so I was happy to hear people connected to my personal experience.

Watch the video to see what I mean.  BE CAREFUL!  I used the f word approximately 10 times.

After the shows, all of the performers were hanging out and talking about how it went.  One of the guys made a comment about my story being a big hit and then someone else remarked, “Well, it’s easy to be successful when you are talking about your DAD DYING OF CANCER.  I mean, who’s not gonna like that?”  He was teasing me, I know, but it bugged me a little, specifically because I can’t think of a harder topic to make entertaining than “death by cancer.” 

It’s sort of the white whale of comedy – laughs from death or humor in cancer, take your pick. My mom died of cancer in 2003, and I always avoided telling her story. There was a feeling of it being taboo, or plain depressing. But after my dad died, still quite recently, I just felt like it would not only be a tribute he would appreciate to tell about him, but also that it was a story other people who have survived the death or illness of a loved one would appreciate.

In loving memory of my dad, David Piscitelli April 1, 1942 – March 4, 2011

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4 Responses to “Finding Humor in Cancer”

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sweet pic of you and your dad. love it.

I laughed and I cried – your Dad would definitely be proud.
You’ve never cease to amaze and impress me.

I don’t think of cancer as an easy way to get laughs. It was a story that was both touching and funny because of how you told it.

Well done, and a moving (and warm) tribute.


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