How America Killed My Mother is a deeply personal documentary for comedian Ed Larson.
Of course, so many more people might share this sentiment in the ongoing wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this movie and this journey isn’t about that.
Larson’s mother, Kathy Larson, died from diabetes at 65, on July 19, 2016. But Larson, who started performing sketch comedy with his group Murderfist before going on to host multiple podcasts with The Last Podcast Network (The Brighter Side, The Roundtable of Gentlemen) and writing on roasts with and for his cousin, Jeff Ross, started filming this documentary a month after his mother’s death in an investigative effort to discover why being poor in America is so fatal, thanks to our unnecessarily complex health-insurance industry and economy.
His mother developed diabetes not long after was born, but once she went on Medicare, the cost for her glucose monitor no longer was covered. In November 2015, insurance denied her a NovoLog flexpen.
She had to work full-time hours on a part-time job at a nursing home, earning only $10.25/hour, and when she died, she was broke, with debts to the bank, to Kohls, and bunches of overdraft fees.
The 39-minute doc, directed and edited by Travis Irvine, follows Larson with a hidden camera as he notifies these creditors of his mother’s death and tries to settle her affairs. He also sat down with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in Washington, D.C., in 2017, with “liberal redneck” comedians Drew Morgan and Trae Crowder, with 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, and with striking casino workers outside Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.
In the end, Larson prompts more questions than answers.
“Being poor in America should not be a death sentence.”
Larson is back in his native Florida, having performed over the weekend with Ross at The Dania Improv. Tonight they’re sharing a special screening and Q&A at his hometown movie theater.
As Larson notes: “When I was a kid and my dad was out of town all the time my mother and I lived in this movie theater. Probably went over 100 times in the 90’s. It is going to be surreal to show a movie I made about her there. If you are in the South Florida area, obviously it is chaos right now, and if it is too much of a risk for you please stay at home. But I’m vaxxed with anti-bodies and would love to see you.”