Thursday, May 09, 2013

Humorous Death Notices - an emerging subgenre?

It's not like we haven't seen funny death notices and homespun remembrances in the past, but recently we've had some great ones and after reading Antonia Larroux's, I'm wondering if we're seeing a full-scale trend

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=antonia-larroux&pid=164596250

Recall:

Harry Stamps

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sunherald/obituary.aspx?pid=163538353

Relatedly - but not quite the same thing - the very funny Val Patterson who used his death notice to reveal his lack of PhD and his safe-stealing legacy

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/saltlaketribune/obituary.aspx?n=val-patterson&pid=158526785

From a couple years ago:

Michael "Flathead" Blanchard

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/denverpost/obituary.aspx?pid=156944598

1 comment:

Andrew Meacham said...

I wondered the same thing after someone sent me a link to the Toni Larroux obit. My reactions are spilt. If more people are enjoying obits, thinking creatively with them and able to get some laughs in the midst of grief, that's a good thing. On the other hand, they all give of the feeling of playing a little too hard for laughs. Ricky Gervais: "Stand up comedy is not about being prettier, sexier or smarter than the audience, it’s about stumbling…and getting back up. It’s one of the oldest formulas in comedy." If the writer of an obit or any other piece of work seems pretty sure I'm going to find his or her material hilarious, I'm less apt to. They also risk being too one-dimensional. Harry Stamps taught sociology and government? Well, I guess he was more than a grab bag of adorable eccentricities then. But you wouldn't know that from the obit, which is all about deviled egggs and high-waisted shorts. Another analogy: there are home videos that are funny, and home videos that seem created and shot for the purpose of making America's Funniest Home Videos. Some of these oh-my-god-you-have-to-read-this obits come across like the latter. Gervais says one of the most fundamental principles of comedy is that "you want to audience to root for you." It's good for all of us if people are realizing obits don't have to be staid resumes, and these obits have gone viral because they were well written and unusual. I smiled when reading them. But I suspect there's a reason I didn't laugh, having to do with the fact that the writers seemed a little too sure I would. But people did read them, and that's a plus.