A Cancer Survivor Embraces a New Career as a ‘Sit-Down Comedian’

Heal, Heal Spring 2021,

“Did you hear the one about the cancer procedure that went terribly wrong?” “It turned out to be a ‘bi-oopsie!’”

“Did you hear the one about the cancer procedure that went terribly wrong? It turned out to be a ‘bi-oopsie!’”

“What’s a tumor called at Christmas? A “nod-yule.”

Okay, okay, I own up to writing those silly jokes. With the help of my Gilda’s Club, I’ve launched a brand-new career: A sit-down comedian — ­on Zoom!

Joking Around with Fellow Survivors

You see, Gilda’s Club hosts a “Lunch and Laughs” get-together twice a week, where our goofy gang shares a few jokes to get us through this endless pandemic. I found it to be a good place to warm up for my own stand-up comedy special on Netflix.

Since I’ve been living with prostate cancer for six years, it was about time to poke a little fun at myself. I’m allowed. With cancer, the joke’s on me. Here’s another of my originals:

“What did the urologist say to the baseball player before his prostate exam? Bladder up!”

Caution: Groaners Up Ahead

Had enough? I won’t blame you a bit if you skip to the next article. But if you’re like me, you’re tired of crying a river of tears over your cancer and might want to lighten up some.

What got me started writing cancer jokes? At first, I Googled “prostate cancer jokes” and found tons of gems. I started snickering so hard I almost forgot to get my next PSA blood test. Here are a couple of my early discoveries:

  • “What does a prostate cancer patient have in common with a basketball player? They both dribble.”
  • “What’s the worst thing to hear after a prostate exam? A nurse walking in and asking, ‘Who was that guy?’”
  • “What did the snowman die of? ‘Frostate’ cancer.”

How This All Started

In the first few years after my diagnosis, my sense of humor collapsed under the weight of depression and anxiety. But gradually, as post-surgery treatments took hold and remission set in, my funny bone started to perk back up again.

I nurtured it by binging on standup comedy routines on Netflix and Pluto TV, watching countless silly sitcoms (thanks “SuperStore”) and circling back to my favorite comedians the Marx Brothers to re-watch “Night at the Opera” and “Duck Soup.” I love Groucho’s one-liners!

Then last April, with lockdown in full swing, I joined the “Lunch and Laughs” group at Gilda’s Club. My “audience” has put up with many groaners, including these I found on the internet:

  • “My dad’s brother is a cancer doctor. He’s an ‘uncologist!’”
  • “I paid my oncologist big bucks for this hairstyle.”
  • “Doctor: ‘You have cancer and Alzheimer’s.” "Patient: ‘At least I don’t have cancer.’”
  • “What do you call a fish looking for cancer treatment? ‘Finding chemo.’”

Wrapping Up

I recall a book title from one of my favorite humorists, Erma Bombeck: “If Life’s a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in The Pits?” That perfectly sums up the cancer experience, with a little tongue-in-cheek humor thrown in for good measure.

No, cancer is not all chuckles, but sometimes we just need to giggle, tee-hee and even chortle to kick off those beneficial endorphins that will help boost our battered immune systems as we line up for our COVID-19 vaccination shots.

By the way, Netflix hasn’t called back yet about my stand-up special. Meanwhile, I’ll be here all week!

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