Dying Is Easy! Comedy's Hard

by Jon Sindell


            Michelle: Lanky, lacey, lovely, lithe. Utterly desired by all.

            Me: Grubby, gunky, gawky, gross. Desired by ... Michelle?

            "In the name of all that's holy,” I queried during Date Number Two, my bushy brow wriggling like a lovelorn caterpillar, "whatever possessed you to go out with me?"

            Her mellifluous reply was unintelligible, for the touch of her hand had fried my antennae.

            “Sorry," I said with a puppyish expression, “come again?”

            She squeezed a hand that had seldom been squeezed. “You make me laugh,” she said. Her dazzling smile hinted at bliss.

            I made her laugh—that was the key! And I held it in my hairy little hand.

            My humor stepped lively on Date Number Three, a walk in the park on a romantic spring day. "My cat died," said Michelle with a needful expression that clearly implied: “Laughter is the best medicine. Dose me up, doc.”

            So with the wry sort of grin associated with tuxedoed sophisticates in the drawing-room comedies of Hollywood’s Golden Age, I said: “Now you can leave bloody mice on his grave—like he did on your bed!”

            “What?” she replied, and her flat tone surprised me. Even so, the upward curl of her lip suggested dry amusement, and I congratulated myself on having jolted her out of her grief at the death of Mark Twain.

            I pursued my advantage: "Has the coroner of Munchkin Land determined that Mark Twain is ‘really most sincerely dead’? After all, the rumors of Mark Twain's death have been greatly exaggerated before!"

            She turned towards the lake—undoubtedly deeming it unseemly to laugh—and choose to walk home alone in her grief.

            Sadly, Michelle's grief deepened after that, for I was not there to lighten her load. She was so downhearted she couldn't even rouse herself to reply to my text:


            Roses are red,

            Violets are blue,

            Kitty is dead,

            I hope you aren’t too!



            Thankfully Michelle shook the blues when She Stoops to Conquer came to town, for she adored British humor, and I had bought first-row seats just for her.

            “Now this is comedy,” she said, encouraging me between laughs with a pat on the knee.

            “As the saying goes,” I replied with an erudite air, glancing up from the program that was the source of my erudition, “dying is easy, comedy’s hard!”

            “I suppose so,” she grinned.

            The King of Comedy was back on the throne.

            Then Michelle lost her job, and the comedy cavalry must ride to the rescue. “Thank god,” I said with the eyebrow wriggle she was growing to love, “no more agonizing about which restaurant to choose. You can't afford restaurants now!”

            Her fishy stare made me wonder whether I had committed the comedy sin of killing a good joke by explaining it, but I discerned an appreciative twinkle deep in her eyes. “You’re an interesting man,” she said with a poignancy of expression suggesting she had never met a man quite like me, and would regret it forever if she let me go.

            Bad news comes in threes, they say, and one week later Michelle’s dad died. In her grief she forgot to tell me about the funeral, but I sleuthed out the location, and approached her after the viewing of the body to console her with humor. “This mortuary,” I began, glancing about as if in a tricked-out disco, and shaking my groove thing in a comic pantomime, “sure puts the fun back in funeral!” Her unexpectedly hard look suggested my jest had misfired. “Remember,” I rallied, leaning in with the puppy-dog look she found so endearing, “dying is easy, comedy’s hard!”

            Later that night she shot me dead.

            Which proved me right:

            Dying was easier than comedy, by far.



Jon Sindell wrote the story collections The Roadkill Collection and Family Happiness (both from Big Table Publishing). His humor has appeared in The Big JewelDefenestrationFeathertale,  Go Read Your LunchThe Higgs-WeldonPoints In Caseright hand pointingThe Short Humour Site, and Thrice Quarterly, and before barnyard animals in petting zoos everywhere. Much of his writing hides in plain sight at jonsindell.com