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Comedian Alexei Sayle confronts attitudes towards terminal illness and society’s last taboo in the short film Last Laugh, which was produced as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week, which ran from 14 - 20 May 2012.
Watch 'Last Laugh'.
In the film, the veteran stand-up talks to four people whose life expectancy is less than a year, discovering how humour not only helps them to manage their illness but breaks down the isolation and frustration they feel when professionals, friends and even family treat them with kid gloves.
The six-minute film was commissioned to encourage people to talk more openly about dying and bereavement, and to help educate health professionals involved in end of life care.
Last Laugh was made by PictureWise Productions with the support and advice of the Bolton Dying Matters Group, Bolton Hospice and St Ann’s Hospice, Greater Manchester. PictureWise also produced Dying for a Laugh, featuring comedians including Ardal O'Hanlon and Jenny Eclair, for Dying Matters Awareness Week 2011.
As well as producing the film, Manchester-based documentary maker Kathleen LaCamera is personally involved in supporting people with terminal illness through her role as health care chaplain for the Royal Bolton Hospital and Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.
She said: ‘‘Whether I’m on a hospital ward or out in the community, what people tell me over and over is that they don’t want others to become overly cautious around them or simply avoid them for fear of saying the wrong thing because they are dying.
"What they do want is to do the things they’ve always done for as long as they can: talk to friends and family, complain about what’s bugging them, laugh at a good joke, feel useful, get the help they need on a bad day and most of all connect with those things that have always made them feel most like themselves.
"As a healthcare chaplain it is a privilege to be supporting and learning from people at this time of their lives.”
Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of the National Council for Palliative Care and the Dying Matters Coalition, added: “As a film, Last Laugh is tremendously important because it helps to break down the stigma and isolation that many people feel when diagnosed with a terminal illness."
Buy 'Last Laugh'
We've packaged together short films 'Last Laugh' and 'Dying for a Laugh', which features comedians including Ardal O'Hanlon, Jenny Eclair and Dave Spikey talking about death. The cost of the oackage is £6.00. 'Buy Last Laugh' and 'Dying for a Laugh'.
PictureWise Productions - external link