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Humor found in funerals

Published November 07. 2009 09:00AM

We typically believe funerals are sad. But many funny life moments can happen during the most solemn and sad times. Most of the time one would not regard the idea of a funeral having a happy ending as possible, but in the case of one Brazilian man who was believed dead, his family was relieved to find him alive and well and walking in on his own funeral.

According to a story from the Fox News site, 59 year old Ademir Jorge Goncalves decided to spend a Sunday evening talking with friends over drinks at an area truck stop. Unknown to him though, his family was called and told he may have died in a car accident. Stunned, some of the women went to identify the badly disfigured corpse as their dear Ademir.

Funerals are customarily held right away and such was the case with poor Ademir. Before he knew this was happening, his family had already made arrangements to bury his allegedly dead body. In fact the funeral was under way before he even found out about it. They were greatly relieved to learn it was not him.

Later it was learned some of the family had doubts about the identification but with five people identifying the corpse they didn't have much choice. I would imagine Ademir might have learned a little bit about who his actual friends were in that visit.

Funerals are typically a sad event and held for the benefit of loved ones to mourn their loss. It's a cleansing time and a time to initiate healing. In some cases though, funerals have been the basis for some good comedy and humor in many television shows.

One such occasion was on the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men", one of my favorite comedies. In one episode one of Charlie and Alan's mother's husbands died. He apparently left her at some point for a younger woman and later did the same thing to her. Anyway, there is some unfinished business between Charlie and Alan and their late stepfather and at one point Alan is there with his son who spent the episode tethering to his Nintendo DS. As the episode reaches its climax resulting in the two brothers and their charge leaving the funeral in an uproar, the funeral guests are treated to the sound of a video game at an inopportune moment as a mortified Alan returns to retrieve his son's video game.

While it doesn't sound funny on paper, it was pretty humorous to see on the screen.

Another favorite series of mine "Cheers" had an episode in its long running "Bar Wars" theme in which Sam Malone, the owner of Cheers and Gary, owner of Gary's Old Towne Tavern pulled pranks that resulted with Gary apparently dying from the shock of seeing a faked disembodied head in his bar. Sam is convinced that Gary is pulling a fast one on him even up to the point where he sees the body being buried. Finally when he finally concedes and accepts the guilt for causing his rival's accidental death, his nemesis shows up alive and well once again demonstrating to Sam the joke is on him.

I have seen some funny bumper stickers also that deal with death and funerals with a wry sense of humor. For example, one of my favorites is "Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome" or how about this one "Born free, taxed to death."

A quick search of the Internet turns up many humorous stories. One forum talked about a person's grandfather who was a World War II veteran had died. He was buried in a country cemetery. Along the side of the cemetery was a hill full of cows. When the military unit fired a 21 gun salute, the stunned cows stampeded creating many chuckles from the mourners.

Another person's grandmother requested the song "Jesus is Calling" to be sung at her funeral. At that moment the music started and as the soloist sang the hymn reaching the chorus, the minister's phone rang. He had forgotten to turn off the phone. Wryly he explained after the funeral, "That wasn't Jesus, that was my wife."

One funeral director won't use recorded music anymore. He had the occasion to have a family who wanted their mother's favorite song played as the mourners entered the chapel. The director obliged using the soundtrack from the original movie. The first song with Judy Garland's beautiful voice began the famous song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of OZ". Something delayed the family's entrance but as they came into the chapel, the song pleasantly played over the speakers. Unfortunately the delay caused the song to end too early and to the director's horror before he could stop the CD and as the final family members were being seated, the next track happily began, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead".

So even in our times of sadness and the worst of times, there is humor. While funerals are a time to mourn, it should also be remembered they can be a time of celebration and memories.

Til next time…

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