An Occupational Hazard

One of the occupational hazards of being a professional comedian is that I say a lot of things that are not funny. You would think that the opposite would be the case but with comedy the only way to truly know if something is funny is to try it. This means that it is not unusual, in a delicate situation, for me to say something completely inappropriate.

I once went to the vets to pick up some routine anti-flee drops. At the counter I asked, “Can I buy those bags here?”

“Bags?” a confused receptionist asked.

“Yea, you know, the ones you put the cats in and then throw them in the river.”

That didn’t go down very well with the customers waiting for the cat clinic.

My favorite opertunity for this kind of behaviour was when my wife was being treated for a brain tumour.

Oncologists, neurosurgeons and cancer nurses dispense serious news about serious illnesses – they really can’t laugh that much. To me that’s like a red rag to a bull. I think my best moment was during one of Caroline’s treatment meetings.

You only get one shot at radiation treatment for a brain tumour and when it’s administered is a matter of debate. When Caroline’s tumour started acting up we had a meeting with her doctors to determine if now was the time. Sitting in a row in front of us was: our oncologist, the neurosurgeon, the McMillan nurse and three medical students – it was like we had been subpoenaed by a Senate sub committee. Just as we were going through treatment options the fire alarm went off and it was loud – really loud. It was immediately followed by an even louder announcement shouting that the alarm was malfunctioning and that we should not leave the hospital. We waited for about five minutes and then Caroline shouted a question. One of the doctors answered and we continued the meeting at the top of our lungs.

We shouted questions about side affects and they would scream answers and then howl treatment schedules at us. It was just awful. Finally the alarm stopped. I watched as the entire team visibly dropped their shoulders.

In this blessed calm we came to a decision. We were practically done when our oncologist asked, “Do you have any more questions?”

At that second the alarm roared back to life. Through the din I shouted, “When the treatment is over, will the ringing in her ears stop?”

They didn’t laugh – which must have been difficult, cause it was a bloody good joke. Caroline liked it. I know because she gave the signal she always gave me when I told a good joke – a really hard elbow in the ribs.

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2 Responses to “An Occupational Hazard”

  1. ymp Says:

    Yeah, neurosurgeons aren’t usually gifted with a sense of humor. Not really why you seek them out though…

  2. After me - you guys will be the first to know. « John Lenahan’s Year of Gratuitous Socks Says:

    […] he is 18 doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be sponging off me for the next decade.  As usual with British civil servants she didn’t know how to react to […]

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