You may have been to one or more funerals (though I hope not). You’ve seen a million of them on TV and in the movies, and they’re all the same. Whereas weddings are all over the place, themewise.
This reality show, which I wrote, is now in pre-production. It’s called “Design a Funeral.”
There are five contestants:
– An interior designer
– A birthday clown/magician
– A wedding planner’s assistant
– An embalmer
– A lounge singer
Each week the contestants are provided with a funeral theme, venue, and budget and must each stage their own version of a funeral. An actor’s corpse is provided in the interest of verisimilitude There are five themes and the shows air every other week.
1. Public Pool – The pool is rented as for a big birthday party. The guests assemble at the bottom of the deep end, breathing via scuba equipment. The coffin is secured to the bottom of the pool. All oration is performed with the mouth uncovered to the water, so that it just sounds like burbling talk sounds, thus eliminating the most annoying aspect of funerals. When that’s finished, the coffin is loosed and floats up to the surface, symbolizing ascension to heaven, as all look up through their goggles. Later in the year, the mourners return and throw flower bouquets into the lanes during lap swimming.
2. The 101 – The hearse, and limos abreast, and more limos ranked in three rows behind, cruise down the 101 at the height of rush hour, at the four miles per hour typical at that time. The fleet brakes to a stop, creating instant gridlock behind and a maddeningly clear freeway ahead. The mourners jump out and the pallbearers extract the coffin from the hearse. A few quick words are spoken, hard to hear over the blare of hours and the shouts and curses of hundreds of frustrated drivers, crazy in the L.A. heat. The coffin is bourne over to the concrete divider to the left, and quickly shoved/tossed into the HOV lane heading in the opposite direction. The coffin is easily manipulated because it is made of paper and contains only the ashes of the deceased. Vechicles in the HOV lane quickly reduce the coffin to paper fragments and the ashes of the deceased are ground into the asphalt for a mile down the road. Later in the year, the mourners return and, car-pooling so that they qualify, cruise down the HOV lane scattering flowers through their open windows as they go.
3. Rock Concert – The deceased is brought to the concert, with a mourner on each side supporting him or her under the armpits. He/she isn’t too heavy, as his/her internal organs and so forth have been removed. He/she is going goth. He/she, at the proper time, will be projected into the mosh pit to surf. The mourners will return later, after the drugs have worn off, and try to find the body.
4. La Brea Tar Pits – The mourners will assemble behind the back wall of the tar-pit attraction at 2 A.M. on a weekday, with ladders and grappling equipment. They will scale the wall with the body of the deceased and gather inside at the edge of the hottest, deepest tar pit. After a few words have been spoken, about the origin of the tar pits and the animals that have been trapped and perished in them, a metaphor for modern life, if I may presume, delivered by a bribed young employee who does the tours there, the deceased will be weighed down, if necessary, and consigned to the tar, there to be entombed until excavated and put on display at some future time. The mourners will return on the weekend to enjoy the pits as paying customers.
5. Wedding – The corpse in its coffin will be conveyed to the largest, most traditional wedding being held during prime time in the L.A. area. When questioned at the door by the wedding planner and the father of the bride, the mourners will claim that they have in fact reserved the church and that the Catholics have double-booked the chapel just to make an extra buck. Or the Jews, if this is a temple or synagogue. An argument will ensue. The bride will emerge. There will be tears. She will ask why the groom isn’t out there sticking up for their marriage. She will go in search of the groom, who will be discovered with the maid of honor. Meanwhile, the coffin will have been bourne in to the apse, if that’s the word I want. Bourne in to wherever the priest or rabbi is waiting, and put down. The cleric will be told to deliver a eulogy, at gunpoint if necessary. All the bridal floral wreaths and other flowers will be confiscated and bourne away with the coffin, which will be fit somehow into the trunk of the Just Married car, half of it sticking out in back. A red handkerchief will be tacked onto it for safety. The car will drive away (rice, no; tin cans on strings, yes) and once it’s out in some neighborhood, the coffin and its contents will be ditched on a front lawn and the mourners will all go to the beach to party. They will return to the church at some later date to sit listening to the sermon and then will put buttons in the collection basket.