Laura Duneman’s debut solo Melbourne Fringe comedy show It’s Time for Death opens this week. She’s not your stereotypical Goth, self-proclaimed “happy worrier,” with an overactive imagination of how it might end. We had a chat about life, comedy as a type of therapy and how human death is.
Your show is about your crippling fear of death, have you always had this fear?
I’ve been worried about death for as long as I can remember. I recall being in kindergarten and worried about death. I’ve always told people that I’m a happy worrier. I’m a light, content person, but while I’m having a great time there’s always an undercurrent of worrying and death is the best thing to worry about because it’s always a threat. You can’t get rid of it, it’s always there. I think it’s always been with me and perhaps I’ve just become more aware of it as I’ve grown up.
Can death be funny?
Gosh, I hope so for the sake of my show! Yes, I’m certain it can, with respect. Death is such a raw, human event and I think humour can be born out of such real scenarios. There’s nothing hidden, emotions are on the line and so I personally found with the death of one of my grandparents earlier in the year there was humour to be found in the situation if you kept your eyes open for it. Of course, you always have to remain respectful of the situation and other people’s grief. Also, the anxiety of being afraid of death has been the beginning of a lot of my comedy because it lends itself to self-deprecation which often works well for comedy.
Rather than seeing a psychologist regularly about your intense fear, you decided to create a comedy show instead. Are you hoping your comedy will act as a therapy?
It already has! I worry about death and dying more when my mind is idle. For instance, when I’m flying, of course I think the plane is about the fall out of the sky, my mind isn’t busy enough to distract me. My imagination runs wild. Doing this show though has taken up a lot of the head space that I would normally reserve for worrying. As a result, my mind has been at ease the last few months. It’s weird but doing a show about death has made me not think about death anymore.
What do you think is the worst possible way to go?
Shark attack. 100%. Terrified of it.
Do you think the topic of ‘death’ is an appropriate dinner party conversation?
I think so, yes, as long as everyone is on the same page. I find when I am part of a conversation about death we all ultimately end up talking about life. I know, that sounds so poetic, but it’s true. Having said that, I’ve witnessed some painfully awkward conversations about death, but that’s normal for dinner parties, right?
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Funny you should ask. I may or may not play my funeral songs in my show. But you’ll have to come along to see what they are. I’ll give you a hint: they are heavily influenced by the ’80s.
It’s Time for Death
Courthouse Hotel – The Dock, Cnr Errol & Queensberry St, North Melbourne
Saturday 26 September – Sunday 4 October 7.15pm (6.15pm on Sundays, no shows Mondays)
First published on Milk Bar Mag.