I have worked for Macmillan for nearly 3 years. It's a great place to work and I still really enjoy my job which is quite unusual these days. I have pondered and skirted around writing comedy material on cancer. It's a really tough one as on one hand, I'm all about making light of difficult situations and trying to make them easy for people to relate to, but on the other hand, it is really hard to get the balance right. Cancer is not funny. Cancer tears up lives, families, relationships regardless of age, gender, religion. Cancer doesn't discriminate. I get that. I totally get it and am not immune to the shadow of fear and sadness the big C casts over life. My mum has had cancer twice now. She is lucky to be alive. My grandad has prostate cancer. Not aggressive, thankfully, but another thing to add to a long list of 'old man' related ailments. None of this is funny. What is funny to me are the things that come out of living with or after cancer. People's take on life. The other day at a work conference, I said to one of the delegates, a GP, "yeah my grandad has prostate cancer. It's a real ball ache" and without realising, had made a joke about cancer. My mum often makes (to be fair, usually ill timed) references to the fact she has the trendiest "undercut" around due to the intensity of both her chemo and radiotherapy following the surgery to remove her brain tumour 30 years ago.
My grandad has developed osteoporosis due to a number of factors, one being a knock on effect of the hormone treatment he is on to control his prostate cancer. He now has to take a strong pill every week to help prevent his spine crumbling. My nana recently told me over the phone that "grandad is much more talkative after his acid pill on a Friday". There they are. Stories. Jokes. Waiting to be told to people, usually strangers, to make them laugh, albeit, guiltily at cancer.
I guess the reality is, its not cancer that is funny. It's the way you deal with cancer. It's the humour you find in a terrible situation. It's the story you tell and the way you tell it that is funny. Cancer is a total fucker. You will never find anyone sticking up for cancer in a discrimination row so I say let's all rag the shit out of cancer! Make people laugh about cancer, hell, people have spent enough time crying about it!
Anything that you are passionate about can be funny. It's the things I am most passionate about that I get the biggest laughs for on stage. I am going to attempt to grab cancer by its ugly fucking horns, rinse it hard, dress it up like a dancing bear and make it dance until people are bent double in laughter! OK, maybe not the bear thing, but I will be attempting to make light of some of the shared experiences of people affected by cancer. Watch this space...