Toy Balls & Cathartic Comedy | 4M #65
Welcome to the sixty-fifth edition of Morticians’ Monday Morning Mashup, 4M #65, where we’ll serve up bite-sized, easily-digestible nuggets of the deathcare news you need to crush conversations in the week ahead. Bon appetit!
A funny to work through grief
A New York City comedian believes that “clowning, comedy, and crowd work” might be a great way to work through grief and loss. Comic Ben Wasserman is testing that theory with his comedy show, “Live After Death,” which he’s presenting at the Michigan Mortuary Museum this Friday. The museum is housed inside the Michigan Museum of Horror in Monroe. Wasserman, who has lost seven loved ones in the last three years, hopes that his “fun, unique, and touching show” will help to create a “‘not being alone’ kind of feeling.” He’s performed his show in funeral homes for almost a year to sold-out audiences, so he may be on to something! They do say that laughter is the best medicine.
Narrating her own autopsy
Toni Crews died in August 2020 at age 30 of adenocarcinoma, a rare cancer of the tear gland that led to Crews losing an eye. On her Instagram profile, Crews bravely documented both her battle with cancer and her decision to donate her body to science. She also requested that her anatomical dissection be televised. My Dead Body, a tasteful documentary that debuted on December 5 in the UK, satisfied Crews’ wish. Producers used voice recognition technology to replicate Crews’ voice, and supplemented respectful, yet recognizable, shots of the procedure with interviews from friends and family about the impact she made on others. Crews made history as not only the first individual to be dissected on television, but also as the “first British cadaver dissected in a public display in nearly 200 years,” according to one source.
Death Doula, the comedy
An Australian actor/writer/director is pitching a “dark comedy series” called Death Doula, which is branded as a “comedic exploration of death and grief that uses an intriguing blend of live-action and animation.” Jenna Sutch stars in her pilot as “grief-stricken Annie, who after losing her best friend in a car accident starts experiencing visions of a world beyond the mortal plane.” Sutch actually studied to become a death doula in real life as she wrote the pilot, which recently won several awards in Australia and America. No word yet on whether a network will order the full series, but kudos to Sutch for her efforts.
Escape from San Quentin (Cemetery)
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation recently published a blog post about two female inmates who were supposed to be buried in the San Quentin prison cemetery, but due to two separate twists, were, in fact, not. OK, so the fact that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has a blog (called Inside CDCR, by the way) is interesting in itself, right? Anyway, both Mary Hill and Elizabeth Duncan died while in the custody of the prison system. Hill died in the prison hospital in 1925 after serving a few months at San Quentin for check forgery, and Duncan was executed in the San Quentin gas chamber in 1962 for hiring two thugs to execute her son’s lover. Although both women have been rumored to be buried in the prison cemetery, records have revealed that each was transported offsite for private burial to save them the “indignity” of a prison interment. Just another chapter in the “who’s buried where” files.
A different kind of parting stone
Mohan Patli died a few years ago in a hospital in India at age 18, but apparently wasn’t too happy about it. Not long after his death, Patli’s mother and sister-in-law reported that he was appearing in their dreams to inform them that his soul was stuck there. To remedy this, family members recently visited the hospital mortuary with “some goods including incense sticks, basket, and a stone.” For more than an hour they performed a ritual intended to transfer Patli’s soul into the stone, which they then brought back to their village so his departed soul could “attend salvation.”
A sad and macabre anniversary
Eight years after an embalmed severed head was found in rural Pennsylvania, authorities are still trying to find out with whose body it belongs. A young boy found the head of a female near a wooded area in December 2014; investigators determined it had been there for up to a month, but couldn’t estimate how long it had been since the woman had died. As if someone exhuming an embalmed body, cutting off the head, and leaving it on a roadside wasn’t enough, detectives found that the eyes had been removed and replaced with red rubber balls similar to the ones sold in vending machines. The balls were then covered by tan-colored eye caps used in the embalming process. DNA couldn’t be extracted due to the embalming, so authorities turned to the public (including local funeral homes and research institutions) for help in identifying the victim. This year the reward for information has been temporarily increased to $10,000 during the week of the eighth anniversary of the discovery.
There’s a special place in you-know-where for people like David Fuller. The former UK hospital electrical maintenance worker was sentenced in 2021 to two life terms for murdering two young women in 1987. However, he’s also been found guilty for sexual offenses against 101 women and girls aged nine to 100 between 2008 and 2020, in addition to admitting to 12 counts of “sexual penetration of a corpse” and four counts of “possession of extreme pornography.” Apparently, Fuller filmed himself repeatedly abusing corpses in several hospital mortuaries after morgue staff left for the day. UK authorities spent 2.5 million pounds to conduct DNA testing that led to his arrest, but we’d think that anyone reading this story would agree that that’s money well spent.
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