Friday, January 11, 2013

Funny Friday

My father in law, Noel. lives in Canberra. He is one of my favourite people.  This is a pic of Noel taken when visiting an nursery in Canberra, I have printed it before but it is worth a second outing:

During a discussion a little while back about eulogies, he jokingly said to me “I want to write your eulogy”, to which I responded “I’ve already written yours.” My wife Kate did not think Noel’s comment at all funny and told him so. Looking like a chastened schoolboy using a he-started-it tone, he replied “But he said that he’s already written mine.” My wife said that she thought we were both silly. 

Since then there have been occasions when eulogies have been raised by one or other of us, usually provoking a hostile response from Kate along the lines of “That’s NOT funny!” When I was released from hospital after a bout with pulmonary emboli, Noel commented that he would put the eulogy back in the drawer 

A couple of days ago Noel sent me an item from his desk calendar for January 4, the day after his birthday:

A handwritten comment at the side reads “Otto, I do understand. Noel” 

Good one, Noel. 

So what better topic for today’s Funny Friday than eulogies . . . 

Part of John Cleese’s eulogy for Graham Chapman, who died on 4 October 1989, aged 48: 

Graham Chapman, co-author of the 'Parrot Sketch,' is no more. He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky, and I guess that we're all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he'd achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he'd had enough fun. 

Well, I feel that I should say, "Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries. " 

And the reason I think I should say this is, he would never forgive me if I didn't, if I threw away this opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste. I could hear him whispering in my ear last night as I was writing this: "Alright, Cleese, you're very proud of being the first person to ever say 'shit' on television. If this service is really for me, just for starters, I want you to be the first person ever at a British memorial service to say 'Fuck'!" 

Because you see, Gray would have wanted it this way. Really. Anything for him but mindless good taste. And that's what I'll always remember about him---apart, of course, from his Olympian extravagance. He was the prince of bad taste. He loved to shock. In fact, Gray, more than anyone I knew, embodied and symbolised all that was most offensive and juvenile in Monty Python. And his delight in shocking people led him on to greater and greater feats. I like to think of him as the pioneering beacon that beat the path along which fainter spirits could follow. 

Some memories. I remember writing the undertaker speech with him, and him suggesting the punch line, 'All right, we'll eat her, but if you feel bad about it afterwards, we'll dig a grave and you can throw up into it.' I remember discovering in 1969, when we wrote every day at the flat where Connie Booth and I lived, that he'd recently discovered the game of printing four-letter words on neat little squares of paper, and then quietly placing them at strategic points around our flat, forcing Connie and me into frantic last minute paper chases whenever we were expecting important guests.

It is magnificent, isn't it? You see, the thing about shock... is not that it upsets some people, I think; I think that it gives others a momentary joy of liberation, as we realised in that instant that the social rules that constrict our lives so terribly are not actually very important. 

Well, Gray can't do that for us anymore. He's gone. He is an ex-Chapman. All we have of him now is our memories. But it will be some time before they fade. 

See and hear the first part by clicking on the following link: 

At the funeral of Michael Clarke Duncan in September 2012, Tom Hanks delivered a eulogy which included an anecdote told him by Duncan. 

Hanks recounted that when Michael was growing up in a rough, violent part of Chicago, he wanted to become a member of a gang that used an identifying mark of a red circle dyed into their Afros. Michael approached them to become a member and was told he would have to undergo an initiation ceremony, namely “they beat the crap out of you for twenty minutes”.

Having undergone the beating and been accepted for membership, he headed home with his red dyed patch of hair and sat down at the kitchen table. His mother, cooking at the stove, asked what the red patch was and he told her that it signified he was part of a gang now. She let fly with the frypan, hit him over the head and made him go upstairs to cut out the red part. As she retrieved the chops from the floor, she told him to go back to the gang to tell them he was out.

Michael, with a large part of his Afro missing, went back to the gang and said “My mama says I can’t be in your gang.” When Hanks asked Duncan what response that had brought from the gang, he told Hanks “They beat the crap out of me a second time.” 

See and hear it at: 

Extract from The Chaser's Eulogy Song:

My great grandfather died this week.  I couldn’t stand him actually nobody could.  But as soon as he passed away everybody went around saying what a top bloke he was, so I’d like to dedicate this song to you, Gramps. 

He was very hard of hearing,
he was dull and domineering,
misogynist cantankerous and vain.
He hit the bottle every night,
he hit my grandma out of spite,
and those stories about his bunions were a pain.
But all that’s now forgotten,
once he took his final breath.
Yes even pricks turn into top blokes after death. 

The bustard's an exquisite fowl
With plenty of reason to howl.
He escapes what would be
By grace of a fortunate vowel.

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