What’s so funny about funerals? Today, a growing number of families are choosing to lighten the mood at funerals - by telling jokes, offering funny stories, or even singing show tunes – all meant to inspire laughs, not tears. 

Hari Close is a funeral director who says adding humor to eulogies is a more “realistic” way for people to celebrate a loved one’s life. His thinking is that fewer people have personal relationships with churches these days, so they may feel alienated having a minister or rabbi try to put someone’s death into a serious spiritual context. So rather than focus on a person’s faith, mourners are now focusing on their funny human flaws. 

As you might expect, many clergy wonder if laughter is appropriate at funerals. After all, funerals are considered a solemn rite of passage that has been practiced with respect for centuries. Clergy also worry that a eulogy filled with humor may be offensive, because it distracts mourners from facing the reality of death. That’s why funeral directors recommend following two rules of thumb if you’re invited to speak at a funeral:

  • First: If you find yourself worrying that a story may be too honest or revealing to share at a funeral, then it probably is.

  • Also: If a funeral is held in a church, save your funny comments until you’re gathered with loved ones at home. That’s because many churches consider it “inappropriate” for you to speak from the lecturn unless you’re ordained.