Turns out, cancer isn’t as funny as I originally thought.

A couple of weeks ago, when I first legit committed to writing about my Summer of Cancer, AKA What I Did on my Pandemic Vacation, AKA The Guy with the Blood in his Urine, I assumed, mostly because when I journal about it… personal, PRIVATE journal about it… I always seem to make at least one joke per page about what I’ve been going through since the Hibiscus Tea Incident of August, 2020. I mean, I’ve hashtagged it everyday.


That’s supposed to be something you can’t come back from. A promise. A solemn oath to make something potentially tragic also something you laugh in the face of. It’s like mocking the devil, or the President. Yet here I’ve been, uncharacteristically getting in touch with my feelings, in public. It’s like a sad Hallmark movie. Shut up, I know every Hallmark movie is sad, just not in the way that Hallmark intends. A lot like that movie where Forrest Gump’s mother plays his girlfriend. Two noob stand-up comics, neither one is funny. But they spend the entire movie trying to convince the audience of said unfunny movie which movie reviewer Rex Reed gave FOUR STARS… whatever… that if you just try hard enough to overcome your traumas and triggers (although this movie was made in the ’80s so I don’t think the writers even had words like “traumas” or “triggers” in the script), you TOO could be one of the sad funny people on open mic night at the comedy club.

Spoiler… no, you can’t. Because a movie about unfunny stand-up comedians ISN’T FUNNY. Just like cancer ISN’T FUNNY. At least not intentionally.

But a promise is a promise.

So I guess the trick isn’t trying to write exceptionally funny cancer jokes. That would be like Tom Hanks and Sally Field writing their own material for the open mic scenes in Punchline. And if we learned anything from the movie Sunset Boulevard (RELAX, THAT won’t be on the test) we all know that even though everybody thinks that actors are making up their lines as they go, they aren’t. And I’m not writing cancer jokes on cue as I stare blankly at the screen at the start of every blogging day.

No, I’m remembering something that could have been sad, that in the remembering of it, at least made ME laugh. And that’s the punchline at the end of story. That if I can laugh, then I can laugh the next time, and the next. Until maybe I won’t need to remember to laugh anymore.

And if I’m laughing, maybe you can laugh with me, too.

(c) copyright 2020 William S. Friday

5 thoughts on “Punchline

  1. It doesn’t have to be funny to be compelling or entertaining.

    I’m enjoying your posts about this topic… well, enjoying is a weird sort of word because, hey, cancer, but think you understand what I mean. Cancer has been a bitch in my life, so stories about it do tend to draw my focus.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also tell my tragic tales with comedy — it makes it more palatable, both to the listener/reader, and to the one reliving every terrifying moment. But when the comedy can’t be found, does that mean the tragedy should exist as is: bare, raw, too much to deal with, *real*?
    I’ve been loving how you’ve told this story; it’s interesting to see how your more personal thoughts compare with our conversations this summer, and the similarities and differences in how we handle our tragedies (are you really sure I’m not four chipmunks and a toad?).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have a two chipmunk minimum around here. I’d say you’re definitely four. You know, it’s funny. When we talk, I know I’m being honest. But what people are reading here is that dialogue one can only have with themselves. Honesty vs hyper-honesty, but with a little editing and spellcheck thrown in. And, from one goblin to another, I will tell you that there more where this came from. Encouragement like yours guarantees it.

      Liked by 1 person

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