The Serious Side of Cancer & Comedy

Posted on: Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
Posted in: SoulTrain | 8 comments


I’m pleased to report that radiation is now half over. Some caregivers whispered, “You’ll sail right through this,” while Dr. Ray and others warned of breathing difficulties, nasal-sludge discharge, and other side effects too rude for this family blog. So far, everyone’s right. I’m sailing through—in that way that some sailing days go south. And as for EFX? Don’t axe. Meantime, my personal laugh track has gone mostly mute. The gales of November have gone serious. 

To amuse myself—and potentially my legions of readers—I created the photo-comedy concept, “Weird Things to Do During Radiation.” I’m not sure it’s working, but you know what they say about desperate times. At the Radiation Ward, the Rayettes are willing to accommodate and snap the pics. But they, too, are serious. They don’t really get the irony. And then they often tell me about the side-splitting cut-up who always wore a sombrero to his treatments.


I’m like, “What’s so funny about a sombrero?” But they can’t explain; they just cackle away and high-five each other, leaving me to hold my stupid prop and scratch my now-fuzzy noggin. If only they had humor critiques and scores for me to scrutinize. Their intellectual indifference and this deplorable climate change both make me want to Hit the Road, Jack.

About those critiques and scores: Some time ago, when I was Somebody, a comedy club invited me to judge a contest between 3 up-&-comers. The attention was glamorous; the comedy hilarious; and the drinks bounteous. Genius Joel Hodgson ran away with the match, and then off to a star-studded-enough career that’s included sitting at the right hand of Seinfeld and the cult, satire series MST3K (which, all these years later, recently raised $6 million via Kickstarter for a revival). And to think I discovered him!


What struck me that night, though, was the intense seriousness of the comedians. When the show was over, we judges got to meet them—and some giggling groupies also gathered around. But the comedians’ obliviousness knew no bounds; they cared only about our critiques and score sheets, which they nabbed and studied as if for a life-or-death engagement.

I know the feeling now. It’s true, I have myriad manic notes and half-witty jokes that await the light of day. But perhaps that’s the problem. There is no light—no day—these days. We’ve entered the Dark Daze. The outlook for as far as weathermavens dare forecast: Cloudy. Even uppity people feel down.


So be it: All master comedians have ups and downs. Woody Allen. Chelsea Handler. Bill Cosby (bah-dum-PUM!). Now that I think of it, Joel Hodgson’s shtick was quintessential dead-pan. And yet, he made me laugh till I cried. Which sounds like just another day at the Radiation Ward. Or could that be fresh-fried scar tissue squeezing my tear ducts? 

Oh, whatever. Better use radiation for inspiration while I still can. It’s half over. Darkness can’t last forever. MST3K is coming back. And there’s got to be a sombrero around here somewhere.

I got this. Seriously.

Thanks for listening…



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8 Responses to “The Serious Side of Cancer & Comedy”

  1. Joan and Jay Says:

    Thanks for making us feel better. Again. You HAVe to be HellRaiser next time! Take PINS!!

  2. Kirk Horsted Says:

    You’re welcome! I AM SO ready to raise a little hell. And pins, yes, and maybe some balloons…?…

  3. Miranda Says:

    When this is over you will be ecstatic! I stayed happy for five years! You are going through this with great style and grit…just a little bit longer to stay strong ❤️

  4. Kirk Horsted Says:

    Right on, Miranda. I do got grit and strive for great style. Five years of happy sounds mighty-fine good right about now…!…

  5. Jackie Reesman Harrell Says:

    Love your writing style and message. Keep strong.

  6. Kirk Horsted Says:

    Well, thank you Jackie. I get strength from happy readers like you!

  7. Sherry Says:

    St John awaits……?

  8. Kirk Horsted Says:

    Ohhh, would be nice…

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