By Bill Hudson

CHANHASSEN, Minn. (WCCO) — Few things in life are more difficult to discuss within a family than planning for a loved one’s death.

And that’s exactly why Stevie Ray’s Improv Company at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater is tackling the topic head on.

On Friday and Saturday, April 21 & 22, the Cabaret troupe will perform the “Life and Death Comedy Show.” It’s a way to break the anxiety over end of life decision making.

Let’s face it…end of life planning isn’t typical dinner talk. But nothing’s more important than making decisions about a loved one’s mortality.

“We all think we have one more year, no matter how old we are, and it’s going to be someone else,” Stevie Ray said.

Ray’s improv troupe is in the business to make us laugh. So when Health East Emergency Room physician Dr. Ann McIntosh asked Ray to approach the topic with humor, he jumped at the chance.

“We’re not going to make fun of death, we’re just going to make fun of how silly it is that nobody in America talks about the only inevitable thing out there, besides taxes,” Ray said.

Last April, Ray and his performers presented the first “Life and Death Comedy Show.” Their goal was to break through people’s resistance and fear of end of life discussions with humor and comedy.

“I mean, it’s not going to be, ‘Hey Dad, can you pass the mashed potatoes, and by the way how do you feel about life support?'” Ray said with a chuckle.

After the inaugural shows played to sold out crowds, the performance is back for another weekend – Friday evening, Saturday matinee and Saturday night.

Ray says it is a relaxing and fun way to get all of us talking about Advance Care Plans, DNR/DNIs, funerals and honoring a dear family member’s final wishes.

“So what we’re trying to do is say, look, respect it because life and death both need to be respected, but don’t fear it. Make it part of your conversation,” Ray said.

This unique approach to an oftentimes uncomfortable discussion is clearly changing behavior. All thanks to giving audience members food for thought – along with a good laugh.

“Because they say if it’s that easy why not? And now you’ve given me a few tips to get over those oogie parts,” Ray said.

For more information on tickets, click here or here.

For information on National Healthcare Decision Day, click here.


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