Fans and friends of Laurie Kilmartin already had read her Twitter account of sitting by her father’s side as he lay dying of lung cancer in the winter of 2014.
Kilmartin’s heartbreaking and hilarious 140-character thought process as she coped with her impending loss and her family captivated thousands of electronic onlookers. But how to turn that into a live stand-up special? In itself, “45 Jokes About My Dead Dad,” would make for a powerful one-woman show — perhaps too much for audiences who read their tickets and the marquee but nevertheless still didn’t know what to expect. That Kilmartin and her producers turned it into something truly special, though, combining her stand-up performance with home movies shot with the Kilmartin family while her dad was in hospice, plus documentary interviews with Laurie’s boss, Conan O’Brien, her friend Andy Kindler, and Patton Oswalt (who not only sent many more Twitter followers her way in 2015, but also suffered his own tremendously personal tragedy when his wife suddenly died in April 2016, making this is first real on-camera processing of that) — this makes Laurie Kilmartin: 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad one of the most important, timely and best comedy specials of 2016.
She explains how she tried to process this overwhelming tragedy the way she knew best, then realized how therapeutic it was to document every moment to remember it. “I think this bodes well for my upcoming musical about Ebola,” she quips.