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Cheerful Funeral

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I know how boring funerals can be
I want people to gather
meet new people
have a laugh, a dance, meet a loved one.
I want people to have free drink all night
–- "Death" (Seans Book), Sean Hughes

Someone you knew or loved has died and you have been invited to their funeral. You arrive, but instead of finding people giving condolences, you see them laughing, chatting and telling jokes. And the actual funeral itself seems more like a party than a mourning. Now of course people do talk about the recently departed, but instead of mourning or missing them, they might be celebrating the life they lived, or are celebrating the cycle of life, or if their religion says so, they might be celebrating that the dead have Ascended To A Higher Plane Of Existence. Or perhaps the dead wanted their funeral to be like this, and for their friends and family to not be sad.

These funerals can be very confusing to many and can lead to culture Clash, and it's not uncommon for the people at the funeral to think that people who prefer funerals to be somber just don't take the time to understand that not all funerals are the same.

Not to be confused with The "Fun" in "Funeral" where the light hearted elements are unintentional in universe. They may be amusing to the audience, but awkward or downright insulting to the characters. Also not to be confused with Last Disrespects, where the light hearted elements are absolutely intentional and meant to be insulting and disrespectful to the deceased. And definitely not And There Was Much Rejoicing, where people celebrate the death of someone they hated. Also see Freaky Funeral Forms, for unusual and shocking funeral habits in general.

In Real Life, a cheerful Irish wake will frequently follow a traditionally somber funeral instead of a reception for mourners to express condolences; Well, This Is Not That Trope. This trope is for when the mourning is bypassed completely. Compare with Themed Wedding.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin: Riki tells Gin not to feel sad at the end of the final battle where so many died, but to howl in victory for the honor of the dead.

     Comic Books 
  • Lucky Luke: The Tenderfoot begins with the funeral of Pappy, a rancher and friend of Luke. In his will, he asked the townsfolk to have a round at the saloon in his name, which ends up in a classic Bar Brawl and a good time all around. Afterwards, two of the people who had fought in the saloon are walking home together and says that Pappy would have loved that fight.

     Fan Works 
  • A Growing Affection:
    • Kankuro's funeral is a raucous affair; a feast with music and dancing, and plenty of alcohol for anyone having trouble getting in the mood. Naruto is confused and a bit put off, until it is explained that in the Land of Air a funeral is used to celebrate the deceased's life, and mourning is done in private.
    • Later, Jiraiya's funeral is a similar affair, at the deceased's wishes.
  • Eyes on Me: After Rose dies from preeclampsia complications while having Steven in Do It For Him, her friends and her significant other Greg hold a celebration of life for her. The service ends with Greg dumping her ashes into the ocean.
  • In Warriors Redux, RiverClan cats grieve the week after a cat dies. The first week is spent rejoicing over their life.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Part of the early section of Coming 2 America spends time on King Jaffe's funeral. It's hardly a somber occasion, as he planned elaborate musical and dance performances as well as celebrity guest appearances. Jaffe himself was still alive for the funeral and even laying up in his coffin for the event, but once he'd seen enough and felt his time was close, he simply closed his eyes with a smile.
  • Haunted Mansion (2023): The movie opens with a jazz funeral procession as Leota explains to the audience that New Orleans is a place that embraces death as a part of life and can find celebration even in mourning.
  • Choon-Hwa's funeral in Sunny is celebrated by her reunited high school friends dancing to "Sunny" by Boney M. at her wake.
  • The end of Thor shows Thor and the other Asgardians having a huge feast, and in The Avengers (2012) Thor tells an actually-very-much-alive Loki that they mourned him. At least one person outside the film tried to claim Thor was a Hypocrite because of this, but this was in fact how the Norse honored someone's death, making this a severe research flub (see below under Real Life).
  • In The Wolf Man a Christian priest finds it utterly alien that gypsies would mourn the passing of Bela, a fellow gypsy, with celebrations and even a whole carnival. The movie implies that they were celebrating the fact that Bela is now freed from being a werewolf. But he has passed the curse on to Lawrence Talbot.

  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Though it's never seen, the people of the Summer Islands have funerals that are not somber occasions mourning the dead but celebrations of the lives they led, with wine and lovemaking.
  • Discworld :
    • Wizards and witches know when they're expected to die of natural causes, and occasionally like to hold "going-away" parties for those who are soon to kick the bucket (like Windle Poons in Reaper Man or Miss Treason in Wintersmith). It's rather like holding the wake a day early, so the deceased get to enjoy themselves before they go.
    • In Men at Arms, members of the City Watch witness the funeral of a clown, which deteriorates into slapstick. Ritualistic, macabre slapstick devoid of any sense of humor or joy.
    • Inverted in Interesting Times, where Rincewind sees people setting off fireworks in a parade and says "Good, eh?" to the old woman standing besides him, who snaps that it's Mr. Wu's funeral.
    • Though it starts out as a dour occasion, Nanny Ogg quickly turns the late baron's funeral in I Shall Wear Midnight into one of these by singing his favourite song, then encouraging others to add more songs to it, until everyone is happily chatting about the life of the deceased.
  • In The Kane Chronicles, Sadie and Anubis at one point witness a funeral in New Orleans. At the time they arrive, the actual burial has already taken place, and the funeral has moved on to the stage where the mourners celebrate the life of the deceased with song, dance and revelry as they head away from the cemetery. This is a practice Anubis himself approves of, calling it "very Egyptian".
  • In The Coming Race, the Vril-ya have no fear of death, and see a painless death at an advanced age as a cause for celebration rather than mourning. The narrator attends the funeral of a man who died at the age of 130, where the smiling guests sing an upbeat hymn called "Birth Song" to celebrate the man's Ascension To A Higher Plane Of Existence. After the main service, Aph-Lin hosts a banquet at his house.
  • In Mermaid (2011), merfolk live for 300 years before dissolving into foam and becoming part of the sea. When this happens, others celebrate their passing with song and feast. Lenia is one of the few who feel that death is a terrible loss, rather than something to be accepted and celebrated.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Geordi LaForge and Ensign Ro are seemingly killed in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Next Phase". (They've actually been shifted out of phase.) The Enterprise holds a memorial service which is surprisingly reminiscent of a New Orleans jazz funeral. When it's discovered that LaForge and Ro are not actually dead, the celebration of their lives turns into a genuine celebration.
  • The second series of the CBBC sitcom Mud begins with the ever-cheerful Miss Dudderidge returning from her grandmother's funeral, lightheartedly singing and recounting what a wonderful time had been had by all.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • After watching an incredibly boring funeral in The Gunslinger, Joel and the 'bots lie in fake coffins of their own and discuss what their ideal funerals would look like. Servo can't decide between something educational that explains his embalming methods, or a circus-like extravaganza. ("I want elephants, Joel, lots of them.") Crow, on the other hand, wants a beach-themed funeral, complete with keggers and "couples sneaking off to neck—prop me up so I can surf!"
    • In At the Earth's Core, Max invents a cannon that fires cremated ashes like confetti, intended to make funerals more interesting.
  • In Full House, this is how the funeral of the (unseen) owner of Smash Club, who died from heart failure (and left the club to Jesse in his will) takes place, according to descriptions from Stephanie, Michelle, and Jesse, who are all attendants of said funeral. The owner wanted his funeral to be joyous.
  • In Ghost Whisperer at Jim's funeral, halfway through his eulogy his friend Tim states that this solemn, sad mood was not how Jim wanted his life to be represented and starts playing one of his favorite songs (an upbeat one), which gets everyone in the mood to start dancing.
  • In the well-known Designing Women episode "Killing All The Right People", a designer friend of the women (played by Tony Goldwyn) who is dying of AIDS asks them to design his funeral and to include the same Dixieland music he grew up with in New Orleans. At his service at the end of the episode, there is a big band playing "Just A Closer Walk With Thee", all the girls as well as Anthony and Bernice in attendance and sing along to the hymn.
  • black•ish ends with the Johnsons holding a lively, joy-filled funeral with the cast dancing in the street as a metaphor for moving out of the neighborhood.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Hilariously Zig-Zagged in the famous episode "Chuckles Bites The Dust." Much of the cast spends the episode laughing about the amusing way Chuckles the Clown died ("He went as Peter the Peanut... and a rogue elephant tried to shell him."). Mary scolds them that laughing isn't in good taste. At the funeral, though, Mary herself gets a case of the giggles and disrupts the service. The priest reminds her that, being a clown, Chuckles hated tears and would have wanted everybody to have a good time and laugh... at which point Mary breaks down bawling.

  • Older Than Steam example: The Irish folk song Finnegan's Wake (not to be confused with the novel named after it) is about a funeral featuring dancing and drinking. This inevitably turns into a drunken brawl and somebody accidentally spills whiskey over Finnegan's body, promptly reviving him. He scolds everyone for not inviting him to the festivities.
  • The Menzingers: This is attempted in "Farewell Youth", a song about dealing with an old friend's death, but completely fails.
    "At your Irish Wake we celebrate by trying not to cry."

     Web Comics 
  • Parodied in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. An old woman asks her family to celebrate her life instead of mourning her at her funeral. Unfortunately, she ends up being the victim of a serial killer who tortured her to death, making the mood at her funeral party rather sombre.
    "Look at Dad, keeping on dancing. What a trooper."

     Web Original 
  • The Hard Times: "Funeral for Ska Frontman Surprisingly Upbeat". The titular frontman's friends spend the funeral dancing and singing to upbeat ska music to honor his memory, resulting in some wacky antics when they knock the coffin over with enthusiastic skanking.
  • Vanity Fair's Improv Imagination kicked off with Game of Thrones alumnus Pedro Pascal describing the ideal funeral for his character, Prince Oberyn Martell. Highlights include a beach party for his subjects, a herd of red-clad elephants dumping his corpse into the bonfire, and a Human Sacrifice of the Lannisters, whose ghosts end up slain by that of Oberyn in the afterlife.

     Real Life 
  • Jim Henson's memorial service was called a "celebration", and featured such things as a Dixieland band and prop butterflies for attendees to wave around. Henson even stated in his will that nobody wear black.
  • Some funerals in New Orleans are accompanied by jazz bands that play festive music.
  • John Cleese's eulogy at Graham Chapman's funeral has John Cleese recite an excerpt from the "Parrot Sketch", proudly claims to be the first person to say "fuck" in a eulogy and says "good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries," stating that Graham would never forgive him for not taking an opportunity to shock everybody — "anything for [Graham] but mindless good taste." Later on, everyone sings "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". Knowing how close they were in life, John Cleese was clearly doing it to honor him as a beloved comedian.
  • In recent years, North American funerals and memorial services have become less about tradition — in the religious context, the reading of sacred texts, hymns sung by a vocalist, a sermon, and prayers sanctifying and committing the dead — and more about celebrating the lives of the deceased loved one. Such services often take place at a site other than a funeral home or church, such as at a golf course, community hall, park, or a place where the deceased loved to spend time. Attendees often wear no more than business casual clothes, and often are asked just to come in clothing as informal as a T-shirt and shorts, or dressed specifically (for instance, a football uniform or other shirt signifying the deceased's favorite NFL team, or a Halloween costume). While there may be a brief prayer or sermon, the gathering is more for having fun and celebrating the life just passed rather than mourning for the dead.
    • Even at traditional funerals, a close family member giving a eulogy may include funny stories about the deceased, and sometimes a video may be played highlighting the humorous points of the loved one's life.
    • Interestingly, celebrating the deceased's life in a happy way is more in keeping with the north European version of a wake. Many people in Ireland and the UK have been sent off by their loved ones getting together, drinking heavily, and remembering the good times. All while the body is present.
    • Southern Italy and Sicily have the tradition of il conzu, which is pretty much a Latin take on the idea of the wake. Although in a less forgiving and often far hotter Southern European climate, the coffin might only be on open display for at most two days.
      • It's becoming more and more common for people to make their funerals more fun from the beyond, figuring "My life wasn't dull and depressing, why start now?" They'll often enforce this, often stating that they request that the attendees not wear black (in funerals where the culture dictates black is traditional), and even request in their funeral plans that they play such songs as "Another One Bites The Dust" or "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead."
  • A notable instance of the above is the funeral of Andy Kaufman, who even had a sing-along for those in attendance about how great the world is.
  • Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was depicted as an advocate of Fun Funerals (or rather as a half-conscious clot) in this joke:
    Brezhnev (making a speech): Comrades, this is unacceptable! Yesterday, at the funeral of our beloved comrade the way, where is he?.. when the music started, I was the only one who showed the courtesy of inviting the widow to a dance.
  • The people charged with escorting the coffin of Billy Mays were dressed in his iconic uniform.
  • The Vikings celebrated at the funerals of their chiefs, at least. They got drunk, had fights, and stayed up all night sharing tales of heroism. This was because they believed that the deceased's ghost came to the party, and they would be haunted by him if he didn't enjoy it.
  • Charles Addams loathed funerals, so he left a request to hold a party instead when he died. Given his cartoons, this is appropriate.
  • The esteemed author, journalist, and provocateur Hunter S. Thompson had his ashes fired from a cannon of his own design, that was topped by his double-thumbed fist logo. The entire enterprise was funded by his friend and fellow Kentuckian Johnny Depp.
  • Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett both had their cremated remains launched into space.
  • The cast of The Goon Show were noted for their dark humour. Peter Sellers requested that the Glenn Miller song "In the Mood", which he hated, be played at his funeral. Spike Milligan claimed to hope that his fellow cast member Harry Secombe died before him, so that he couldn't sing at his funeral. Sure enough, Secombe died less than a year before Spike; nevertheless, a recording of Secombe singing was played at his funeral.
  • Puerto Rican comedian Jose Miguel Agrelot reportedly was asked by a friend to make jokes on his funeral if he died first. He did indeed die, and Agrelot showed up at the funeral, apologized for what he was going to do- and then launched into a tirade (mostly insulting his late friend!) so funny that even the grieving widow cracked up!
  • A Doctor Who fan who bore a strong resemblance to David Tennant was buried in a coffin painted to resemble a TARDIS.
  • Many traditional slave funerals in 18th and 19th century America were often times of joyous celebration due to death being seen by some slave cultures more as transcendence than as an end, due to strong animist spiritual traditions and the toil and suffering of slave life. There would be shouting, dancing, and loud music as the deceased was buried. These traditions live on in the form of the New Orleans jazz funerals mentioned above.
    • Even to this day, African-American funerals tend to be more lively affairs. They are also often referred to as "homegoing" ceremonies, reflecting the celebration of life and the idea of returning to Jesus.
    • Similarly, Caribbean funerary tradition has the wake being far more akin to a party—music, food, drink, etc.
  • David Simon has requested a second line funeral after his experience making Treme... at his Jewish cemetery in Washington DC. It should be quite a show when it arrives.
  • GG Allin's funeral became a party. Just for reference, he had a bottle of Jim Beam in his casket. By the time it came to stick him in the dirt, the bottle had been drained to only a few drops.
  • The Concert for George, George Harrison's memorial service held one year to the day after his death. Among the other musical acts performing were Monty Python, singing "The Lumberjack Song" and "Sit On My Face" which included mooning the audience. note 
  • Christopher Titus described his father's exact wishes on how he wanted his funeral and how he wanted to be buried. He wanted to be put into a cardboard box, "open casket," a cover charge at the door (ladies get in free), and everyone would get a chance to pee on him (complete with Willie Nelsons "Blue-Eyes Crying in the Rain" playing). And that isn't even covering what he wanted done with his ashes...
  • Joan Rivers stipulated a nonstandard funeral. Already off the beam because Rivers was Jewish, a previous book from her described her desired funeral in great detail. The general theme was that her star-studded funeral would be more or less in line with the style made her famous: flashy, unabashed, and not afraid to be funny. Among the entertainers present were Howard Stern and the New York City Gay Men's Chorus.
  • Good Friday services in some churches can be this, although with much more reverence. This is justified for Christians as Jesus's crucifixion and death led to his Resurrection and his glorious ascendency into heaven, and therefore, the permanent removal of sin for God's believers. This is also a case of rejoicing out of gratitude and awe and not out of scorn or resentment.
  • China has recently announced a crackdown on the practice of hiring strippers for funerals to boost attendance.
  • Bela Lugosi was buried in a full Dracula costume. According to now-debunked rumors, Peter Lorre reportedly asked (right in the middle of the ceremony) if they should stake his corpse before they put it in the ground, "just in case". In reality, Lorre wasn't even present for the funeral.
  • In Korean Funerals, when the deceased has lived a long and fulfilling life and died of natural causes, his/her funeral is considered a 'good funeral' and is mostly rejoiced by the family and attendants.
  • When Mexican showman and comedian Roberto "Chespirito" Gómez Bolaños died in 2014, many kids and adults showed up to his funeral in the Estadio Azteca of Mexico City... cosplaying as his characters.note 
  • Aleister Crowley was ornery to the last. At his funeral in Hastings in 1947, he stipulated his worshipers should perform the Rites of Pan (one of his occult ceremonies) knowing full well that his reputation as the Great Beast and his perceived Satanist identity would combine with this to provoke uproar. So it proved: there was outrage at a perceived Satanic ceremony taking place in a nominally Christian building (the chapel of Hastings Crematorium). There had previously been no ban on the nature or type of service held in local government-run cemeteries. After Crowley's funeral, by-laws were hastily drafted, and any non-standard form of funeral now needs to be officially passed as being of good taste and in keeping with the purpose of the building.
  • Irish Catholic funerals are renowned for this, but the truth is a little more complicated. First the body is waked, displayed in an open coffin while the bereaved receive the condolences of friends and family. Despite common perception, this bit is not any kind of party-like atmosphere, but very respectful of the family's grief. Usually after the condolences, there will be another room with a livelier atmosphere where people socialise, drink tea and reminisce about the departed. It was at this point that people might strike up some musicnote . The funeral mass itself and burial the next day are sombre again. After the burial there is another happy social gathering with tea and sandwiches, and that can sometimes stretch into the evening, with music and drink - but not usually the absurd amount heard in old songs. There's an old saying that "a good funeral is better than a bad wedding". And then there's usually a family gathering again for the month's mind the following month.
  • Carrie Fisher knew exactly how her obituary should read: "I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra." Several reports of her death in late 2016 used the line. Fisher was cremated and her ashes were placed in a giant novelty Prozac pill she'd bought a few years earlier, in acknowledgement of her public struggle with mental illness.
  • Joe Heller of Essex, Connecticut was known by family and friends as a prankster, so his daughters wrote him a hilarious obituary that quickly went viral, describing how he named his first dog Fart, was a 'consummate napper', and hoped that he taught at least one of his grandchildren to curse properly. It also described how he became a chemist for a cosmetics company without a college education and served as local dog-catcher and refused to euthanize any of them. His funeral was also quite fun, with his casket carried in on an antique fire engine he restored, and people wearing embarrassing t-shirts, at his own request.
  • In Ghana, they have pallbearers who dance while carrying the coffin just to lighten the mood of the funeral attendees. Families of the bereaved can request their services so they can send off their loved ones in style. Hilariously in 2020, the dancing pallbearers became an Epic Fail meme when someone gets seriously hurt with "Astronomia" by Vicetone and Tony Igy being played.
  • Shigesato Itoi has stated on several occasions that for the longest time he didn't have an answer to the question: "What kind of person do you want to be?" Now, he does: "The kind of person with a lively wake."
  • In France in April 2023, a French teacher, Agnès Lassalle, was stabbed to death in her class by one of her pupils. At the end of the funeral, her husband started dancing in front of her coffin, followed by other people around. The couple loved dancing.
  • After Shane MacGowan of The Pogues died in November 2023, fellow Irish artists Glen Hansard and Lisa O'Neill were invited to perform the band's song "Fairytale of New York" at his funeral. A widely-circulated video from the ceremony shows some of the mourners getting out of their seats to dance in the aisles during the song's closing instrumental.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Celebratory Funeral, Happy Funeral


Dancing Pallbearers

A BBC News Africa piece on the (in)famous dancing pallbearers of Ghana who, for a fee, will add elaborate choreography to the carrying of a coffin for families who want to give their loved ones a more upbeat send-off. The troupe also became a meme in 2020.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / CheerfulFuneral

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