I first heard of Tom Davis, one of the founding SNL writers, in Al Franken’s book Giant of the Senate. He was Franken’s best friend in high school and his comedy partner for years. In 2012 he died of throat cancer at 59, and as is often the case with comedians who die slowly enough, he was funny about it.
He wrote a piece called “The Dark Side of Death” that made me wish I had known about him earlier. “My chemotherapy is working,” he said. “I’m still buying green bananas.”
After detailing his illness a bit, there is this:
I wake up in the morning, delighted to be waking up, read, write, feed the birds, watch sports on TV, accepting the fact that in the foreseeable future I will be a dead person. I want to remind you that dead people are people too. There are good dead people and bad dead people. Some of my best friends are dead people. Dead people have fought in every war. We’re all going to try it sometime.
It is odd to have so much time to orchestrate the process of my own death. I’m improvising. I’ve never done this before, so far as I know. Ironically, I probably will outlive one or two people to whom I’ve already said goodbye. My life has been rife with irony; why stop now?
As an old-school Malthusian liberal, I’ve always believed that the source of all mankind’s problems is overpopulation. I’m finally going to do something about it.
Now I’m peckish for more writing by dying comedians. It should have its own section at Barnes and Noble.
Davis’s book Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss
Image: Youtube screenshot