The host calls out the next performer. The lights dim and an elderly lady, Janice Powell, walks into the spotlight. When she opens her set with: “This is the first time I’m doing this type of a show,” she sounds like any other open mic comic, but when she follows it up with, “Who knows, it may be the last time,” you immediately realise that this is a very special show. For one, Powell and others like her really do fear nothing – not even death.
In a bold move, The Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC) teamed up with some of the country’s top comedians – Kunal Kamra, Kashyap, Vinay Sharma, Punit Pania, Shriram R and Anand Reghu – to produce a comedy show, the likes of which has never before been seen in India. In Indian society, where death isn’t spoken about, the #LaughAtDeath campaign features terminally ill patients in a stand-up comedy show for their families and doctors, thus demonstrating that palliative (end-of-life) care helps patients get comfortable with death. To the extent of even joking about it.
“Death is taken too seriously,” says comedian Kunal Kamra, who rarely shies away from controversial topics himself, “Especially in India, which is absurd since we believe in rebirth. So, what are we so afraid of?
“I wanted to be associated with this show because, yes, it’s an emotional roller coaster – these people won’t be here much longer because they’re terminally ill – but I’m not scared of dying anymore. I realised that the moment you’re scared of dying, it’s worse than being dead. [The participants’] spirit is something else. They show us just how cool they are, despite what they’re facing,” he adds.
Watch the video to see for yourself just how brave the stars of the show are and be prepared to laugh at things that rarely find their place in humour.
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Cover Image Courtesy: YouTube Screengrab