At first glance, you might think that humour has no place at a life-cycle ceremony. After all, a wedding, say, marks a significant change, so should be solemn. And a funeral is the last place for a laugh, surely.
And yet …
The “fun” in “funeral
A funeral should be a celebration of life (not merely an opportunity to grieve – important as that is). If the deceased was a joker, that’s what people will remember. So why not remind people of a few of the laughs they had with them?
The whole family will fondly recall the time Reg (not real name) attended a bingo session. With his ‘gift of the gab’ he persuaded the organisers that he had won the main prize (a television). Once awarded it, he owned up – but was still allowed to keep it.
Not untypically, Reg carried on drinking. When he it was time to go, the stairs proved too much for him, and he dropped the TV down the flight!
Amazingly, it was undamaged (but for BBC2). But stories like that just sum up the man Reg was!
At another funeral, where I felt I knew the family reasonably well, rather to my surprise, I ad-libbed. The deceased was a rabid Chelsea supporter, and we played the theme tune “Blue is the Colour”. I encouraged those who wanted to, to join in, but pointed out that I was from the wrong side of London and totally refused!
It’s easier to ad lib or include humour in celebratory ceremonies. Gravitas may still be relevant, but not necessarily all the time.
As a celebrant, when I put together a wedding, I normally work with the bride and groom. As a rule, the groom is not always as engaged in proceedings as the bride. On one occasion, the groom left me to work with the bride, and we agreed to include a humorous poem (by Pam Ayres) without him knowing. He didn’t suspect a thing and was completely floored on the day, bringing proceedings to a near-stop!
My clients are encouraged to write their own vows, and sometimes these can be quite revealing, as well as amusing! I did have to question whether one particular groom really wanted to include public reference to his bride’s arse! (He did!)
I hope this short overview will convince you that humour can have a place in ceremonies – if used judiciously!