Laughing in a funeral home might feel as taboo as shouting in a library or microwaving fish in the office, but Ben Wasserman’s Live After Death comedy show performed in a Brooklyn funeral home will have you laughing out loud.
Part catharsis, part circus, you can see this comedy show about grief and loss this weekend on Saturday, September 24 and again on Saturday, October 29 at Sparrow Funeral Home in Greenpoint with tickets for $15. The show promises juggling, karate, a seance, ventriloquism and intimate discussions with the audience about grief.
Live After Death began as a way for Wasserman to work through his own grief after losing his dad, granddad, uncle and four friends in the span of three years. The show brings the audience on a hilarious yet moving journey through grief, honoring and celebrating lost loved ones.
“The funeral home has been really great and a really special place to do this show because I think people come into it a little more open to the conversational moments throughout the show,” Wasserman said.
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The comedian has set up lighting and created props to make the show feel more theatrical, but it’s also very clear that the setting is indeed a funeral home. In fact, the show is subject to cancellation if someone dies and the funeral home needs to be used for its original purpose.
“I stand and juggle where ashes sit at the front of a funeral,” Wasserman said. “It feels like a show, but you do feel also like, ‘there could be a body in the basement.’”
Wasseman’s main goal is to make people laugh and have fun, but the show has also turned out to offer a healing space operating “as some sort of group therapy thing,” he said.
Given the massive amount of grief Americans continue to face during the pandemic (400-500 Americans are still dying every day of COVID-19), it’s important to take time to grapple with those feelings, Wasserman said.
I just want people to laugh, but it’s nice that I’m also helping start a conversation to get people to open up.
“Being able to create a space, even if it’s just for an hour, one day a month, where there’s some sort of collective kind of sharing feels really important,” he said. “I just want people to laugh, but it’s nice that I’m also helping start a conversation to get people to open up.”
Fellow comedian Matt Albani will open this month’s show on Saturday, September 24; Matt DeCaro will open the October 29 show. Expect extra pre-show activities for these two shows, including customizable temporary tattoos with the name of your loved one (temporary for now, but Wasserman dreams of someday collaborating with a tattoo artist). The last show for this season on October 29 (Halloween weekend) will be on Wasserman’s late father’s birthday, so he anticipates an extra special series finale.
After October, the show will take a break, then Wasserman hopes to relaunch it in a local theater. He’ll also be taking the show on tour next year with dreams for a bigger tour in the future, hoping to drive around the country in a hearse and set up under a big-top tent in cemeteries. But for now, find the show in Brooklyn and get ready to laugh or cry or cry from laughing so hard.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.