Norm MacDonald Standup


To some, having someone joke about the death of a loved one is equivalent to someone giving you a piece of spoiled food and telling you to eat it, all the while promising you that it will taste great. To others, its a way to normalize and deal with death, all the while getting paid to do it. This is what Norm MacDonald does in this short clip from one of his stand ups. In the roughly three minute video, MacDonald is able to land multiple jokes about his dad’s heart related death to a receiving audience. The way he achieves this is by easing his way into the topic. He starts off by offering a different perspective on the way people view the heart. According to MacDonald, everyone thinks of the heart as a good thing, meanwhile he jokes that its quite the opposite. In doing so, he sort of softens up the audience to be more receptive of his jokes about his dad’s fatal heart attack. This sort of thing coincides with the topic of death in class at its very core: that its okay to talk about death and furthermore, that death should be the subject of more conversations. While it would be safe to infer that joking about his fathers death is in some ways a way to cope with that event, there would also be a reasonable deduction to be made about the effect that these type death related jokes have on people and they’re willingness to perceive death as a more mundane topic.

To this end, i found two videos that address these type of conversations head on. Both are comedians, and both talk about death. However, with a topic as broad and diverse as death, there are many ways to go about joking about death too. The first link leads to a video of a stand-up bit from comedian Louis CK in which he addresses the notion that everyone has a relative understanding that, as the bit is called, everybody dies. He goes back to and talks about the first time he became aware of it and then, admittedly, goes on a bit of a tangent with jokes about a kid named he didn’t like called ben but he makes his point clear enough before this point. The jokes he tells deal with the concept of death as a child, not necessarily dealing with death head on. The second link on the other hand, leads to a page with a video and a short description that basically explains how comedians tackle the topic of death from a comedian’s own experience. Comedian Jerry Corely presents a stand up bit on the topic of his mom’s death and in the description he goes in to further detail on how he manuvered such a sensitive topic. Both acts are extremely entertaining and provide insight on how comedians pull off these type of jokes and topics in their routines.

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