Exit Laughing

Being able to tell a joke is an art,
rolling helter-skelter over a rough patch
of cobbled words to a smooth finish,
kicking out with style
at the bottom of a jump,
a leap of faith in your comedic ability,
ending this side of the abyss of embarrassment.

And writing “funny” is the hardest thing in the world,
a barrier to break with the perfect pratfall, pun, or punchline,
your dive into a healthy splash of laughter, a chuckle of acknowledgment –

Except for dying funny.  Dying funny
has got to be the hardest thing.
I’ve not seen Johnny Carson’s grave,
so I can’t confirm that in fact it says,
“Here’s Johnny” on his headstone,
as often joked about before his death.
That would certainly be
much more humorous than if it said,
“Damn cigarettes killed me,”
which would actually be more in tune
with his often heard remarks
about how he hated
that he couldn’t give up smoking
his entire life.

Now this right here speaks
to the kind of strength you need
to push pianos up long, steep staircases
in a single bound. No problem.
Supposedly, Stan Laurel’s last words,
on his deathbed, were, “I’d rather be skiing.”
If true, this is the perfect example of once a comedian,
always a comedian.  Kudos to him for offering the line,
if in fact he did.
It’s difficult for me to imagine
being humorous facing impendent death.
More power to Stan Laurel, may all piano moves
in the next world will be easily achieved.

Humphrey Bogart may have said,
“I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis,”
although Lauren Bacall says she believes
his last words were actually, “Hurry back,”
when she left his bedside to buy groceries.
Thinking of Bogart lying there, riddled with cancer,
it’s difficult to imagine him quipping about drinking choices,
so much more believable, much more heart-wrenching,
to think of him wanting his wife
to be at his side in his last moments,
when the cancer pain was probably incredible,
and he knew that his fairly young life
had come to an end.

I sincerely hope – no,
I comically hope
that if I don’t have the good fortune
to die of natural causes,
don’t fortuitously go in my sleep,
all sound of body and mind,
if I go out awake,
perhaps in pain, perhaps scared,
I hope I’m able
to keep my sense of humor,
writing or saying something that brings
a smile to everyone when I leave.

* * * * *

Today’s trigger is


Use it to inspire a piece of writing, then post that piece below as a comment. I would love to read it : )

1 Comment

  1. Apparently, Woody Allen once said: “I am not afraid of Death, I just don’t want to be there when He comes”.
    And my sister, who has had MS for a long time, whose brain is a little muddled, after talking about dying during sleep, told me on the phone: “Yes, I would love to wake up dead in the morning!”
    Since the trigger is ‘whisper’, let’s just say both of them whispered it.

    Still love to read your daily writing exercises. Maybe you should combine them all in a book.


    Liked by 1 person

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