Most critics of comedians who love to take their audiences to dark places usually have a single criticism in mind when they prepare to launch their arsenal of self-righteous indignation.
"The dark, sad things you're trying to make people laugh about wouldn't seem so funny if they happened to you," a heckler might shout from the darkened recesses of a comedy club.
Comedian and Conan writer Laurie Kilmartin who is known for not steering clear of tough subjects in her comedy faced just such a moment when her father Ron was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to suffer through it until his final days earlier this year. She didn't just do what a good comic would do in the difficult, but inevitable situation. She did what any sane person would do.
She tried to keep her sense of humor and find ways to joke about it.
"Even during the sickness, I was making jokes about it," she says. "I was used to tackling it. It was a little tougher to turn it into the past tense but I've been a comic for 27 years. I'm really used to going at a subject and doing a take-down of it. That's the way my brain works. I organize my emotions and thoughts in joke form and talk to them on stage. It wasn't any more difficult to talk about than being a mother or anything like that."
She amassed a long list of jokes and updates on her Twitter account through her father and her family's painful ordeal. Kilmartin's tweets went viral and they attracted heartfelt messages of hope and peace for her father and her family from all around the world. She's turned those jokes and the experience into a very personal comedy show called 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad, which she'll perform at 8 and 10 p.m. this Saturday at the Dallas Comedy House. More »