Laughing at Death: A Great Lesson in Acceptance!
Jason Cook: My dad’s death was one big joke
Stand-up comedian Jason Cook always delved into his family life for inspiration, so when his father had a stroke he turned it into an award-winning show. Then, a year later, his dad died of cancer – but that didn’t mean the laughs had to stop
Dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, and one of the first things he said to my mum was “Well, that’s Jason’s next Edinburgh show sorted then.” He wasn’t far wrong. My 2007 Edinburgh Fringe comedy show, My Confessions, had documented his stroke and recovery and my 2008 show Joy talked about his cancer diagnosis and death. The truth is that my dad and I had written most of the show together. He was and is my inspiration.
My father, Tony Cook, was born in the Tyneside shipyard town of Hebburn, where we lived. He was a big, broad-shouldered fellow, with huge forearms and thick hands and the kindest eyes anyone has ever seen in a human being. They were eyes that always had a twinkle in them, so when you were talking to him you always thought that he might take you out to do something impish.
I followed Dad into the merchant navy at the age of 19. We became easy workmates and drinking buddies. Towards the end of his career, he became a consultant for the company and joined the same ship I was sailing on but was not a ranking officer, so I was technically senior to him on board. It never affected our closeness.