Lisa Markwell: What's so funny about cancer? A lot, actually

FreeView from the editors at i

Share
Related Topics

The C word. Not, this time, Christmas or that profanity that
rhymes with the Culture Secretary. The C word I'm talking about is
cancer.

Normally talked about in the special hushed tones reserved for horrible, unspeakable (well, near unspeakable, obv) events, cancer is in danger of losing its terrifying power. And it's thanks to a film that opens tonight in the UK. 50/50 is a comedy from the team behind Superbad, the college gross-out film that made a star of Jonah Hill and featured the eternally funny Seth Rogan as a dumbo policeman.

Now Rogan has co-written a gross-out comedy about cancer with his friend Will Reiser, who had a brush with the big C himself. Rogan stars as the best friend of "Adam", who's given – you've guessed it – a 50/50 chance of surviving the disease.

I expect there will be plenty of people who'll get their pants in a twist about making a joke of such a serious subject but to them I say, no one cares what you think.

It is those who have had cancer who get to choose whether its funny or not. (BTW, please don't ever say "battled" in relation to cancer, it suggests that the ability to "win" is the patient's and if you don't battle hard enough you'll die. Now that's gross.)

Anyhoo, back to the film. Adam breaks the news to his best friend, Kyle, who reacts with shock and horror (so far, so predictable). But after shaving his head with Kyle's body trimmer – eeeew – the men head out to a club. Kyle convinces Adam that "I've got cancer" is an excellent pick-up line. Cue a toe-curlingly funny scene.

You get the idea. This is dark, dark comedy – it subverts the whole Love Story schmaltz and, by the way, hands out a lot of useful info about cancer, its causes and treatment, along with the humour.

This week a New York commentator called for doctors to stop using the C word altogether. I agree. Patients getting a diagnosis stop hearing anything else once "cancer" is out there; like, if it's not too heretical, a dog who hears "blah blah walk blah blah". Clear, unvarnished, uneuphemistic language, please.

And what entitles me to be so judgmental? I've been the baldie discussing the odds with the oncologist. I was desperate for people not to put on a soft, special voice when they spoke to me, or avoid talking about fun stuff, in case it upset me.

On Monday, the brilliant cancer charity Macmillan celebrates its centenary with a gala show at the London Palladium. I hope there are gags aplenty. There's funny and funny, of course. Nobody wants to hear from the tin-earred Jimmy Carr on the subject.

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Neo-Nazis march in London  

I'm taking my Jewish kids to a vile neo-Nazi rally in London this weekend because I want them to learn about free speech

Richard Ferrer
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves that we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map