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Death Is Hilarious

Behind The Show

Tawny’s Story

I married George – my soulmate, best friend, and the love of my life – in August 2016. We then started an audio production and entertainment company together. He was the editor and I was the voice-over talent.

We released the Dirty Bits Podcast in 2017 and were transitioning into producing the show full-time by the following year.

But George was terminally ill. He was born with a congenital heart condition (he had a single ventricle anatomy similar to hypoplastic left heart syndrome). This came with multiple comorbid conditions, one of which eventually led George to contract a respiratory disease similar to tuberculosis (mycobacterium avium complex) when he was just 29. He passed away due to related complications on November 8, 2019.

In the six months leading up to his death, George was mostly homebound, on 5 liters of oxygen, and I was practicing social distancing. But we were together. It didn’t matter that I only left the house to do the grocery shopping and walk our little dog. I was with George and we were in comedy together. If he had been healthy, it would have been a pretty perfect life.

When he abruptly died in our home, I was overwhelmed by the grief and the isolation that comes with mourning the loss of your soulmate.

The only thing that’s been able to give me any relief has been comedy.

George and I shared a dark sense of humor. It’s what we used to cope with our often dark reality. Because if you can laugh at death, trauma, and tragedy you can take away much of its power.

So I started using our comedy podcast in order to cope. I began interviewing other podcasters and creatives on how they were using dark humor to get through their grief, loss, and trauma. These episodes were the beginning of what is now Death Is Hilarious.

I wasn’t able to take the time to plan out the transition of this podcast from the Dirty Bits to Death is Hilarious like I wanted to. It’s been largely experimental and my listeners have been witness to what seems like a behind the scenes look into how I navigate my grief using various art forms like writing, stand-up comedy, podcasting, and performing.

It’s taken a few months and a few different formats to find my footing. And while I’ve had many different creative partners on this journey with me, one of the most consistent partners has been my dear friend, Sam.

We went to high school together and have worked on many artistic projects together since around 2007. Sam was also the mutual friend who set up George and me!

George’s death has been really hard for Sam too and we began coping by channeling our grief into comedy… specifically by writing each other funny letters about how we’re dealing with not only death and loss, but other traumas in our lives. Those letters are something I’d like to share with you on this show, Death is Hilarious, in addition to interviews with our special guests from your favorite podcasts, YouTube channels, and more.

I hope you too can find some healing and relief in our version of radical acceptance – with stories, friendship, and lots of jokes.

Tawny Platis
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letters

“A Dirty Bit: RBG + Sarah Grimké” & “Goo”

https://www.spreaker.com/user/11489398/ep-12-death-is-hilarious-rbg-sarah-grimk

In this episode created just before our RBG movie night, Tawny revisits The Dirty Bits and talks about the woman who inspired Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s quote, “I ask no favor for my sex; all I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks” while Sami talks about the goo that goes on and comes out of your body.

From The Show:

“I want to share a dirty bit of history with you tonight that gave me some much needed hope and even laughter during this dark time. So without further ado, here’s an encouraging and kind of funny story about Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sarah Grimké, and the long fight for equality in America.” – Tawny 

“I want to share an old bit of mine with you. I first performed it at a variety show put on by friends, circa 2014 or so. I may be blending memories here, since we did this kind of event more than once, but I think this happened the same night my friend recited the most angsty poem he could find while dressed as a volcano.” – Sam

“But her parents were like, “Yeah, for sure, you’re super smart hon, but advanced book learning and law are very unladylike pursuits, you’ll just need to squash those desires down and control your sinful lusting after academia. It’s really too bad you aren’t a guy because you’d be the greatest lawyer in South Carolina and like, the greatest jurist in the country. It really sucks about your vagina, Sarah, truly, so sorry.” – Tawny

“I am sorry for using the word juice in that context. That might be the nastiest sentence I have ever written.” – Sam

“And it was super easy, everyone agreed with them, they abolished slavery, and everybody lived happily ever after! Just kidding, they put up with so much bullshit.” – Tawny

“I’m not quite a Nasty Bitch because I don’t care enough about haters to try to hurt their feelings. But for that same quality I’m definitely a Cold Hearted Bitch. For a short while I was a Bad Ass Bitch, but I lost that title sometime after I quit drinking Dumb Bitch Juice.” – Sam

Also, here’s a screenshot of something we’ve been working on in the studio! Visual segments coming soon.

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Movie Night

Movie Night

RBG

We’re watching the documentary RBG on  Friday the 25th at 5:00 pm pst with our listeners on Kast! 

Kast is a super easy platform that doesn’t require any downloads, just your computer. You can check out Kast and how it works here. 

We’ll email you the link on Friday before the movie starts. Simply enter your address below to get your ticket and make sure you have popcorn!

If you have any questions or need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at DeathIsHilarious@gmail.com

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letters

“Widow Jokes” and “Bi Panic”

https://www.spreaker.com/user/11489398/episode-11-widow-jokes-and-bi-panic-fina

Tawny talks about widow humor, making things awkward,  her emotional service dog going on strike, and canceling her dead husband’s phone line. Sam presents a series of bi observations, including danger noodles and polyamory.

In This Episode:

“Personally I think that joke would have killed George… but I guess it’s too late for that.” – Tawny

“I present… a series of bi observations. They’re all over the place. Just like my sexuality.” – Sam

“Like, nobody tells me my ass is amazing every day anymore. So I’m left to wonder… if an ass is amazing and nobody is around to compliment it, does it still retain it’s amazingness? “ – Tawny 

“They want to know how we feel about the dick. Is there any dick that is an acceptable exception? What if it’s a really good dick? Would you look at this dick and tell me what you think? Can the dick just sit in a corner and watch?” – Sam

“Dog…it always feels so disingenuous calling her that. Dogs do things like protect you and they can eat a quarter-inch of a french fry without vomiting. Yes, this dog once ate a quarter-inch of a french fry and then epically threw up on the friend who gave it to her.” – Tawny

“So you know the Gay Agenda? Well, now get ready for the Bitenerary.” – Sam

Also, here’s a screenshot of something we’ve been working on in the studio! Visual segments coming soon.

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witty widow

Because of Covid

I share the not-so-fun stuff about being a widow mostly because I’ve been told not to talk about it by so many people. I’ve been told to only share positive things, uplifting things, inspirational things, and things that demonstrate how strong I am. 

These folks want me to exclusively share those things because it makes them feel better and more comfortable. 

When I was first widowed, I googled frantically. Not only had my husband died, but my only source of unconditional love had died, my only family had died, and my support system died. George was my very best friend who filled just about all of my needs.

I googled because I hoped I wasn’t the only young, weird, lonely widow who didn’t find comfort in hearing about “God’s plan” or “how I needed to be strong and care for the other grieving people around me” (because I had “only been with him for six years” and I was “so young and would get married again soon.”)

Thankfully, other widows had been brave enough to share their stories and I found comfort in the fact that they didn’t use bologna platitudes. 

I found Michelle Miller’s book, “Vodka Soup for the Widowed Soul: Stories of Grief, Alcohol, Infidelity, Cursing and Hope.” I found The Hot Young Widows Club. I found Anjali Pinto’s articles, “When I Became a Widow at 27, I Used Sex to Survive My Heartbreak” and “I was judged for having sex after my husband died. I think he would have understood.”

If these women hadn’t been brave enough to share their realities and make me feel less “wrong” about who I am as a person (the person my husband fiercely loved, I might add), I don’t think I would have survived. 

The fact of the matter is that my reality isn’t comfortable. I get it. But here’s the thing- my same uncomfortable reality could quickly become anyone’s reality in the U.S today because of covid.

That’s why I’m sharing about how hard it is to be hospitalized for the third time in a month with chronic health issues. I’m in one of the same hospitals that my terminally ill husband with a heart condition stayed in. But now I’m the one with an EKG and oxygen monitor. And I had nightmares last night about all of the things I could have done to save him ( I watched him die again and again until I finally gave up on sleep at 4:00 am).

Because of covid, there’s nobody to hug and there’s no hand to hold while I’m in here (or at home, for that matter). So once again, I turn to comedy. I force myself to laugh by watching gut busting stand-up routines, shows, movies, and YouTube videos. I write endless routines and sketches for the various clients and projects I’m a part of.

I also share. 

I share partially because I’m hoping to connect with others who feel this way and partially because I don’t want anyone else who’s already hurting to feel any shame by doing what they have to in order to survive.

What makes you laugh so hard your side hurts? Like, what makes you straight up guffaw? Let me know in the comments below!

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Uncategorized

Tawny’s Traumedy List

“If you can’t laugh at the pain, what can you do with it?” You can’t let it make you bitter, but you can let it make you better.” -Roscoe Burnems

Tawny’s Traumedy Recommendations: My Favorite Comedies Involving Tragedy 

Help me add to the list!

Comment below and let me know what comedy/drama movies, shows, podcasts, comedians, Instagrammers, and TikTokers I missed.

Movies

  1. Silver Linings Playbook – The movie about the “crazy slut with the dead husband.”
  2. Coco – Pixar once again delivers on both the emotional terrorism and comedy front. 
  3. Moonlight Mile – All of the weirdness and inevitable laughter that surround tragic loss.
  4. Hamilton – Phillipa Soo gives an incredibly accurate portrayal of grief and loss in this musical with plenty of comedic moments. 

TV & Series

  1. Dead To Me – Christina Applegate is a suburban widow who headbangs to screamo in her car and curses loudly, further reminding us there’s no wrong way to grieve. 
  2. Jane The Virgin – MILD SPOILERS – The representation of young widows and the laughable absurdity that comes along with trying to navigate a new life is spot on. It’s a telenovela so it’s silly, sweet, sad, and super self-aware. I watched this season right after my husband passed away. 

Podcasts

  1. Terrible, Thanks For Asking
  2. Griefcast
  3. Good Grief

Comedians

  1. Patton Oswalt –  On how grieving in public is therapeutic 
  2. JC Coccoli – A Comedian In Grief
  3. Glen Tickle – Good Grief 
  4. Kelli Dunham
  5. Pete Davidson
  6. Laurie Kilmartin – 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad
  7. Roscoe Burnems – Traumedy

Instagram

  1. The Foul Mouthed Widow
  2. Mouthy MIchelle – Author of, “Boys, Booze, and Bathroom Floors” 📖
  3. & “Vodka Soup for the Widowed Soul”

Tik Tok

  1. @glitterandgrief
  2. @jessicapelatt
  3. @aloha.alysia
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letters

“Exes and Crosses” and “Hysteria”

https://www.spreaker.com/user/11489398/episode-10-death-is-hilarious-final

Sam talks about their experience with a love triangle in the evangelical church, scheduling panic attacks, and emotional discipline. Tawny shares about a recent hospital stay with “Dr. Dude.”

In This Episode:

“And like, I COULD be drinking or shooting black tar heroin or having promiscuous sex but I’m just eating too many chocolate covered blueberries and breadsticks so ya know…. it really could be worse” – Tawny

“Maybe I should have kept her out of my life. She once told me, with no shame, she used to…kill…hummingbirds. She fed them to her dog.” – Sami

“As I’ve mentioned before, my husband’s death wasn’t exactly my first time at the trauma rodeo. I’ve had some health issues throughout my life that have caused me to be fairly on edge when it comes to my wellness… probably because the doctors at a notoriously shitty private healthcare group in San Diego I, unfortunately, had insurance with at the time were perfectly fine with letting me die from sepsis.” – Tawny 

“But the older I get, the more I can practically reschedule my worst emotions. This fuckery again? Oh hell no. Come back next Tuesday at 2 pm. That’s a trick I never thought would work. I’m starting to be able to schedule my fee-fees. Lately, I’ve been using a time blocking journal. It helps me manage the endless afternoons of corona time, while also penciling in regular breaks to allow myself a good pandemic cry.” – Sam

Learn more and get in touch – DeathIsHilarious@gmail.com

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9 Months Widowed, Our Wedding Anniversary, and The Deadpool Effect

George and I loved telling the story of how we got engaged and married. We talked about it once on our podcast (when it was The Dirty Bits) during an AMA:

On August 22, 2016, I found a white-ish $16 dress at Target and George put on a pair of slacks and a dress shirt. We  listened to Bruno Mars’ “Marry You” on repeat as we drove to the Eugene, Oregon courthouse. We were married by a judge and we snagged a couple of employees to serve as witnesses and photographers.

It felt like we were the only two people in the world as we stared into each other’s eyes in between our peals of laughter and streams of joyful tears. Afterwards, we bought a cake from a little bakery near our house and went back to celebrate with Babbs. We cuddled and watched our favorite movies and shows. It was the most magical day of my life and one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve ever had. 

I highly recommend eloping if you have the opportunity. 

But why am I writing about this here? Where’s the funny part? 

I’m not entirely sure.

It’s been a struggle to find the humor in things lately… which is a problem because it’s one of the few coping mechanisms that’s proven to be effective for me. 

It was a different story before. You know, when it was just my world that was ending. But between covid-19, civil unrest, and a facist coup, now it feels like the actual world is ending.

I knew that I would get over my personal tragedy… but could I make it through a global one?

Last night, as I was drowning my sorrows in Hulu and baked goods, I realized that a dystopian existence is something we have to endure together as a society. And for many of us, endurance is made a lot easier with dark humor that both acknowledges and lightens our reality.

I call it The Deadpool Effect.

Our experiences shape us, they’re a part of us, but they don’t dictate who we become. Like how Wade Wilson could have let his trauma, pain, and loss defeat him but instead, he chose to deconstruct everything around him with sarcastic cynicism and no fucks given. He doesn’t fear death or consequences. He just keeps surviving- and making jokes.

There’s something in DBT called “opposite action.” It’s when you do the opposite of what your emotional instinct is telling you to do. For example, when I feel overwhelming sadness, my natural response (particularly as an introvert) is to isolate. So instead of isolating, I have to force myself to reach out to friends. When I’m anxious, instead of avoiding my fear, I have to repeatedly expose myself to the offending stimulus in order to achieve a level of desensitivity (I’m still trying to visit my husband’s grave without having to manage a panic attack). 

I can’t help but wonder if Deadpool’s entire personality is based on taking the opposite action in response to a life surrounded by trauma. He doesn’t run from his reality. He accepts it, takes action, and improves his health with laughter.

So while I fully anticipated closing the blinds, diving under the covers, and crying over the aching loss of my best friend and soulmate, I instead have been doing the opposite. I’ve been hanging out with our little fur-baby, Babbs, and doing what George and I would have likely done to celebrate. Babbs and I went for a scenic drive, listened to one of our favorite playlists, stopped for breakfast, and went for a walk before it got too hot (George and I were a very simple couple, to say the least… we just liked hanging out together). 

As it’s 90 degrees today, I know we would have likely spent the rest of the day inside with the a/c, watching Bob’s Burgers. It was our favorite show, our happy place. Consequently, we watched it a lot when he was sick. We used to say that I was the Bob to his Linda, and it was easy to imagine having a child together that resembled their hellion daughter, Louise Belcher. 

I haven’t been able to watch the series since George passed away but today, I think I’ll take a lesson from Deadpool and just dive right in. 

Now if only I could regenerate my limbs…. 

XOXO,

-Tawny

Special thanks to my dear friend Hannah for this beautiful piece in memory of George.

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interview

Interview: “Widow We Do Now?” With Anita and Mel

In this episode:

“We started a podcast called “Widow We Do Now?” Because we don’t know what to do.”

In this episode, I (Tawny) chatted with Anita and Mel from the podcast Widow We Do Now?, the show that addresses topics related to grief, death, bereavement, and moving forward through the inescapable pitfalls of young widowhood. And it’s funny too! You can listen to their show now on apple podcasts

Anita, Mel, and I talked about podcasting being a great platform for teaching and healing, learning from other people’s grief, normalizing the different ways we grieve, and creating communities for people.

Mel (38) is a musician who tours around the United States and the world (she was also the associate music director for the national tour of Matilda). She married her husband Scott (who was a theater director) when she was 33. After getting surgery for a deviated septum, Scott unexpectedly passed away just days later during his recovery in November of 2017. They had been married for just one year and 11 months. Mel then found herself homeless and couch surfing for a year while mourning the loss of her husband. She went on to overcome depression, a gnarly car accident, learn about passive suicidality, attend a lot of therapy, and get a ton of dogs. Mel also shares funny stories about tacky wolf birthday cakes, Bob Ross and Kenny G board games, and unicorn vomit. 

Anita (40) is a physical therapist, who got married at 19 and “surprise, surprise, we had an awesome marriage.” She’s also a mom to 4 kids which she admits is “crazy.” Her husband Jason, was a marathon swimmer… like he would jump in a lake and swim for 7 miles. Then, in early 2019, Anita had surgery on a thyroid nodule that was huge. The day after the surgery, Jason passed away during a swim at the pool due to an undiagnosed heart defect. A week after the funeral, she found out that the thyroid was cancerous. Anita tells us how she copes with humor, especially with fellow widow, Mel, and her sisters. 

  • “Nothing has ever been sacred, you joke about everything.” – Anita
  • “His timing of death was super stupid.” – Mel
  • “If you haven’t lived through this, your brain actually cannot process the thoughts that you learn going through something like this.” Anita
  • “The stupid doctor had an earring so I hate him forever, even though it’s not his fault…” – Anita
  • “Does this mean for Halloween I can be a black widow?” – Mel
  • “There’s a place for everyone no matter how you grieve. You grow so much as a person through grief. Loss is loss. Take care of yourself. Try to create a new you, where there’s a better you. There’s good and bad and there’s the middle – don’t lose sight when you’re in the middle. Also, eat all the sugar.” – Mel

DeathIsHilarious@gmail.com

@death_is_hilarious – Instagram

@thatdeathpod – Twitter 

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“Alien” and “Wid-hoe’d:” With Tawny and Sam

Note: This was recorded a few days before Tawny was admitted to the hospital with what she thought was a kidney issue. She’s home now, doing well, and will give a happy update on next week’s episode! Thank you so much for your kind understanding. 

In this episode:

“I laid out the whole being independent thing and how I’m not resistant if I hit it off with someone in my life but I’m also not looking. And I shit you not, my therapist,  this little Russian woman, goes, “Ah, you stopped thinking with your dick. Good. ” – Tawny

“Look, I don’t know how to say this nicely, but my mom doesn’t suck. And I get that most moms suck because their moms suck. And my grandma doesn’t suck either. I don’t know who was the last matriarch in my family to suck, but somewhere down the line, someone broke the cycle.” – Sam

“I’m not here for the small talk, folks. I’m here to discuss life’s big, nihilistic-leaning questions.” – Tawny

“A wise person on tiktok once told me, “Anxiety is just conspiracy theories about yourself.” – Sam

“Like… do you know there’s a name for what I did after my husband died? It’s called Wid-hoe’d.” – Tawny

“A few of my friends were in on the alien thing too, and we had secret hand signs and a whole shared mythology and magical rituals and oh my god I was a cult leader.” – Sam

DeathIsHilarious.com

DeathIsHilarious@gmail.com

@death_is_hilarious – Instagram

@thatdeathpod – Twitter 

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letters

“America’s History of Civil Unrest” and “Surprise!”

In this episode:

  • ” We got a question that got some attention in one of our discussion groups. Katie M., asked, “Why do white people think they deserve peace after all we have done to people of color?” – Tawny
  • “I’ve been learning about a little something called the theory of constructed emotion in the book “how emotions are made” by Dr. Lisa Feldmen Barrett. I’m going to do my best to make summarizing neuroscience entertaining, but if I fail, you can find her Ted Talk.” – Sam
  • “While I can’t give you the answer to this question in its entirety, I can let you know what the history and research says about how those of us who are white progressives can talk to our not so progressive family and friends about racism. So this is my dirty bit of history on civil unrest and white entitlement in the United States.” – Tawny
  • “And now, for some comic relief, I invite you to laugh at the tragicomedy that is my life. The rest of this letter has a three act structure.  ACT ONE: (ANXIETY IS HILARIOUS)  So, one way to get a COVID test is to schedule a surgery. Oh yes, I got my surgery. I am super, super grateful that I got my surgery to remove my fallopian tubes and affirm my identity as someone who never wants to get pregnant. But this wouldn’t be my life if I didn’t have to go through a fucking ordeal over it. “ – Sam
  • “So that’s why a bunch of Bostonians were like, “Nope, throw that shit in the river.” But when they do this, England goes, “I’m taking away all of your privileges. Self government? Gone. Boston Commerce? Gone. Nintendo Switch? Gone.” And how did the good people of the 13 colonies respond? They went, “The actions are intolerable! They are Intolerable Acts!” and then, oh hey, they started protesting. Like, they burned down a whole damn ship that was carrying tea in Annapolis.” – Tawny
  • “I knew if I woke up convinced that I died, I probably didn’t die. I mean, I’d probably know that anyway, because I don’t believe in an afterlife, but they were going to be giving me pretty strong drugs so anything was possible.” – Sam
  • “Like, straight up, Samuel Adams said in response to the Boston Tea Party, and I quote, “Hells yes! Brew that tea in the river and serve it! This is a protest and there’s no other option when it comes to defending our constitutional rights! Suck my dick, FUCK the police!” – Tawny
  • “ACT TWO: PAINMAGGEDON – I woke up feeling great one morning, and hadn’t even taken my pain medicine yet. I thought, I’ll make myself some breakfast while my partner sleeps in. He deserved it after fetching me water, cookies, and more cookies for the last 36 hours.” – Sam
  • “So a bunch of angry white guys storm the dissecting room and see a ton of bodies in various stages of mutilation, which makes them even angrier, so they pick up these various body pieces and start holding them up to the windows to the rest of the 2000 person mob outside, like, “Look at this fucked up shit they’re doing!” – Tawny
  • “The oatmeal sat in the microwave for about 20 seconds while I finished my imaginary conversation between my anxiety and my sassy coping mechanisms. Then, I got hit with a massive cramp. I abandoned my oatmeal to crawl into bed.” – Sam
  • “Posting snarky memes and berating someone doesn’t endear that person to your message. I would know because it’s my go-to move and it’s zero percent effective.” – Tawny
  • “One, I am eating raspberry chocolate oatmeal. It’s red like blood and truly a poor choice when you’re trying not to worry about bleeding out and dying. Two, watching my partner clean up after me, I think, wow, he would make a great dad. And he’ll never be one. That’s hilarious.” – Sam
  • “This is an area enmeshed with conservative evangelical christian leaning values – which means, you can eat bacon and watch rated R movies but grandma can’t come over anymore if she has a girlfriend, and terminating a pregnancy is the equivalent to using an infant as target practice at the beloved shooting range.” – Tawny
  • “Gotta jump on that sweet sweet surgery train before it leaves the station. And because who knows what the fuck is going to happen to my Healthcare as the evil oompa loompa and his terrifying cronies continue to trample on our rights.” – Sam

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