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Jest in Peace - Finding the Funny Side of Eternal Sleep
By T Roberts

Death can the most sombre of subjects, this much is clear. But while many people are understandably fearful of reaching the end of their life and prefer to brush the topic under the carpet, there are also those who take it all in their stride, making light of the inevitable.

Prime examples are those people who choose to display their positive outlook on life - and death - by devising a humorous epitaph for their headstone. Take dentist John Brown, for example, whose resting place is graced with the following words: Stranger! Approach with gravity! John Brown is filling his last cavity.

In fact, there are a number of famous folks who came up with witty or apt sentiments for their gravestones before they died. Some made it on, others naturally fell by the wayside. Here are a few of the best:

Spike Milligan
Revered as one of the greatest comedians and writers of all time, Milligan often revelled in black comedy. When his close friend Harry Secombe succumbed to cancer, Milligan reportedly said: "I'm glad he died before me; I didn't want him to sing at my funeral." His dark sense of humour made it to his headstone, which reads: Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite. (I told you I was ill.)

George Carlin
American comic Carlin was another one to enjoy pushing the boundaries when it came to his stand-up act - his 2005 TV Special Life Is Worth Losing, originally titled I Like It When A Lot Of People Die until Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, centred largely around the subject of death. When asked about the passage of time near the end of his life, Carlin suggested his headstone should say: He was here a minute ago. Where did he go? He was just here.

Winston Churchill
British Prime Minister Churchill is famed for his leadership of the United Kingdom during World War II but his sharp wit was also admired far and wide. He famously told a woman that accused him of being drunk that "I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly." His humour even stretched to the subject of death; on the eve of his 75th birthday he is reported to have said: 'I am prepared to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter."

Peter Ustinov
Oscar-winning actor and writer Ustinov was also famed for his wit, famously telling a reporter that the only reason he agreed to make a commercial for American Express was "to pay for my American Express bill". When asked about ideas for how his headstone should read, Ustinov suggested: Please keep off the grass.

Mel Blanc
Perhaps the most apt epitaph of all time belongs to Mel Blanc, who found fame as the voice of a host of world-famous cartoon characters, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Sylvester the Cat. Another of his characters, Porky Pig, would bring most Loony Tunes to an end with his most famous catchphrase - the self same sentence that's displayed on Blanc's tombstone today: That's All Folks

But don't worry, you can still have a traditional funeral with headstones and a church.


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