by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
I actually think the premise of Amy Schumer’s joke is pretty funny, but it might be funnier if the guy arrives at work Monday and gets called on the carpet for not finishing his work. Of course he didn’t expect to be there, but it turns out this is hardly a new issue of his; he apparently never finishes anything he starts. “You need to develop some stick-to-itiveness, son! You need to follow through to the end!”
Another presumes that Comedy Central killed the joke because it was too skittish about the subject:
There’s no place left for black comedy, I guess, in our timid times. Both MASH and Harold and Maude mined suicide to terrific comedic effect, the latter making suicide both the driver and climax of the movie. Within a year or so of those two movies, Ruth Gordon (Maude) also starred in the hilarious and pitch-black Where’s Poppa? We are poorer for our earnestness.
Below are several more cultural references and links from readers:
Another sterling example of suicide played for laughs is the sequence in Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray, in a fruitless attempt to escape his endlessly repeating day in Punxsutawney, tries over and over to kill himself. In this particular context, suicide is funny indeed. It’s only one of the many elements that makes Groundhog Day a classic film comedy and one of very few movies that succeeds in using suicide in a humorous way (and yet with a poignant touch).
I’m probably not the first to email the “Bruce’s Cry For Help” skit from Kids In The Hall, but in case you haven’t seen it, it’s a chuckle (2:00 is the one laugh-out-loud moment for me):
Oh my gosh, you can’t consider suicide humor with Joan Rivers, who began making jokes about her husband Edgar almost immediately after he took his own life. She has continued to so, and it was a theme of her roast. Not too long ago, she made Terry Gross almost speechless with her comic references to it.
Update from a reader:
How can any discussion of joking about suicide not include “The End?” Burt Reynolds was at the height of his powers, and bearded: