The Funny Thing About Death Is…

by Joe Buonfiglio

Death. The Big D. The last stop on the line. The final breath. The last car ride to the grave. The Grim Reaper’s Funhouse.


I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. When you reach that point where there are more days behind you than in front of you, you start to imagine that long, black hearse making its way to—

Wait a minute. The Grim Reaper’s Funhouse?

Yeah. See, the funny thing about death is … well … death is a funny thing. I’m quite sure that as the Titanic was gurgling under the icy waters for the last time, at least one passenger was laughing his or her ass off thinking, “I saved up for this highfalutin trip for years. Saving my money and opting for yet another vacation featuring warm beer and greasy sausage sandwiches on Coney Island with my mother-in-law is looking pretty damn good right about now.”

As Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw is oft quoted, “Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

The Grim Reaper knows that death is funny. Why do you think he enjoys his work so much, the uniform?

I’ve always been that guy at the back of a funeral “viewing” laughing so loudly as to drown out the widows’ cries of lament.

How can I laugh like that at such a somber moment?

How can you not?!

Here is this poor fat bastard who waddled around his whole life shoving doughnuts and cheeseburgers down his throat — cheeseburgers with a doughnut-bun when he’d go to the state fair — he has a heart attack, is rushed to the emergency room where he’s saved in the proverbial nick of time, swears to himself, his family and anyone who cares or will even listen that he has learned his lesson and is turning a new leaf, and then chokes to death on what passes for roughage at the local salad bar on the very day he’s released from the hospital. I’m supposed to hear that story and NOT laugh as his doughy body oozes into every crevice of his casket at the wake just because some people don’t get the divine comedy aspect of The Divine Comedy?

Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso? That’s NOT a joke? Are you kidding me? Give me the Seven Deadly Sins any day.

You’re probably one of those “art is profoundly serious” types who didn’t find Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman hilarious either. Come on, will ya’? Who amongst us wouldn’t enjoy seeing a self-deluded salesman kill himself? If Miller could just have made Death of the Annoying Jehovah’s Witness Who Won’t Stop Ringing My Doorbell Every Wednesday Right When I Put My First Bite of Dinner in My Mouth instead, THAT would be comedy gold.

Too soon?

You know Death of a Salesman came out in 1949, right? And that the Titanic sank in 1912?

I’m not sure when the Krispy Kreme “doughnut burger” was first introduced to state fairs.

Look, humans are the only species FULLY aware that their death is inevitable LOOOOOOONG before the actual event. All-you-can-eat Chinese buffets and religion and laws and television and YouTube and pornography and French fries and college roommates with a seemingly limitless supply of kine bud and the NFL and Las Vegas and your Uncle Fred’s “pull my finger” joke and most of the rest of the both mindful and mindless shit we encounter as we slide down the mortal coil is all — ALL — designed to distract us from the fact that at any minute it could our metaphoric door that scythe-carrying son of a bitch could be knocking on. And if you don’t see the humor in the realization that it’s all a big nothing wrapped in the randomness of the cosmic soiled underwear of the universe, I feel sorry for you.

I, for one, intend to step into this chaotic clown car we affectionately call life and gun it toward the cliff like Thelma & Louise saying, “Fuck it. I’m having a bad hair day anyway.”

While quoting Woody Allen these days might be “Me Too!” suicide, you gotta admit he was spot-on when he said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”


© 2018 Joseph P. Buonfiglio     All Rights Reserved.
All photos are © 2018 Joseph P. Buonfiglio with All Rights Reserved.

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