Humor in Dark Places: The Comedy of Cancer

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In the past few years, cancer – a subject once relegated to medical journals and hospital corridors – has become a recurring character on the comedy scene.

Larry David tackled the subject in Season 7 of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry's girlfriend, Loretta, played by Vivica A. Fox, is diagnosed with breast cancer, and Larry wants out of the relationship. In his trademark awkward fashion, Larry tries – and fails – to convince Loretta's doctor that he's only exacerbating Loretta's disease. Screenwriter Will Reiser says that Curb Your Enthusiasm encouraged him to tackle his own cancer story through comedy in the 2011 film, 50/50, which featured Seth Rogan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt trading jokes about tumors and terminal illness.

Author and designer Kaylin Andres continues this tradition in her new comic book, "Terminally 'Illin". At the age of 23, Kaylin was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that usually affects young children. In the midst of chemo and radiation, comedy became her coping mechanism.

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Kaylin Marie Andres

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [6]

Medha Srikanth from India

What every woman fears for is losing her self confidence , losing hope and losing her personality. The term "Breast Cancer" is a very negative word and that it creates negative vibrations in her heart. So, to make her comfortable with the basics of breast cancer and to make her means any woman understand that this type of cancer is the least dangerous than all cancers and that if it is detected early then you will fight with it successfully.

Chemotherapy may be given in few sessions. Like 5 sessions, 6 or 8 or more, depending upon the stage or grade of Cancerous tissues.
Each chemotherapy session is given after every 21 days of earlier session.
One blood vessel is used for every chemo session. That means, the blood vessel used once cannot be used again for next or forthcoming sessions. The blood vessel becomes hardened and even if tried giving then the dosage will not flow in the vein.

More information here:

May. 30 2012 02:09 PM
David Maron

My ninety year old Aunt Rose, always a feisty lady, was finally in failing health. She lay down on her living room sofa to take a nap. Her daughter gently spread a blanket over her, and a corner of it fell over, covering Rose's face. Her eyes opened up and she roared "Not so fast!"

May. 30 2012 01:12 PM
Duncan Rogers from maplewood nj

At my father’s burial, my siblings and I were understandably upset and after the grave side service we lingered. With instruction from the powers that be to cover the grave site with a board so they could tamp it down and put the stone. As we collected ourselves to leave I put the board over the top of my father’s grave and was suddenly possessed by Dr. Seuss. And with no forethought at all began jumping up and down on the board saying HOP ON POP over and over until we all dissolved in a mixture of grief and humor. It certainly took the edge off a decidedly unhappy moment.

May. 29 2012 10:07 AM
Suzanne from Northville, MI

My parents have faced many troubles with humor. Here is one story.

One fall, my father’s appointment with a new cardiologist fell on Halloween. At his sister’s prompting he wore a costume. After weeks of consideration and preparation he drove to the cardiologist dressed as the Tin Man. Finally, he had his exam and a few laughs with the doctor. After the appointment, the staff requested he again don his costume again as a group of employee’s children attending a party in the medical building, had gathered to see him.

Several months later, my dad suffered a mild stroke. After the stroke was confirmed, my mom and he were alone it the exam room. My mom turned to my dad and said, “Well, Bill, last year you were the Tin Man for Halloween. This year you can be the Scarecrow and ask for a new brain.” The doctor walked in as they were laughing and my dad had his first audience for his new joke, which he continued to tell as he healed with laughter.

May. 29 2012 10:06 AM
laurie from New York City

I went through a horrible divorce where my X ended up living in my building. I did a podcast called "DivorcingDaze" where we spent a lot of time laughing and poking fun at said situation.

Turns out, it empowered listeners worldwide, who related to broken heart matters, to heal and eventually laugh themselves.

May. 29 2012 09:33 AM
Patrice Corneli from Salt Lake City

I grew up in rural northern Illinois from a family of seven children. At 11 I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and subsequently wore a ridiculous looking back brace for 3 years

My younger sister Susie and I went shopping one day in the "big city" of Beloit Wisconsin (pop 30,000). Coming out of the stylish McNeaney's Department Store, we were approached by a very concerned older looking woman who asked what kind of terrible accident had happened to me.

Without missing a beat, and with considerable gravity, Susie immediately described our (fictional) circus family life and in detail how I had fallen off of a trapeze with no net below! The woman was enthralled and remarked that I was a very brave young lady indeed.

This was probably irreverent but both Susie and I (especially) were really annoyed by people who reacted with maudlin sympathy so I'm pretty sure that she had been working out the details of our amazing story to spring on the next person to feel sorry for me.

We laughed and laughed about this story for years.

May. 29 2012 08:24 AM

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