Funerals are for the benefit of the living. The people being buried don't give much of a shit whether you spend a million dollars on a ceremony or throw them into a ditch, because, you know, they're dead. The whole point of a funeral is to help people go through the grieving process -- but everyone grieves differently, and some do it ridiculously. So who are we to judge if you choose to ...
Believe it or not, in some cultures, popping a boner in the middle of a funeral is considered rude. In China, on the other hand, it's openly encouraged -- hence the (absolutely real) tradition of hiring strippers to pose during the service.
Via James Patton Funeral Directors
Please pretend we've already done a pun with the word "stiff" so we can move on.
You see, in rural China, it's considered lucky and a mark of honor to have as many people as possible attend your funeral. Sometimes, however, not enough people show up, and some extra measures are required to boost the crowd numbers -- sexy measures. Like hiring strippers to perform during the funeral, which needless to say is a pretty effective way to get more people to show up when the corpse you've put up as the centerpiece for your party lacks the expected drawing power.
It's all very tasteful, though. According to one report, "Some strippers even take off the trousers of male viewers and persuade them to join in the dancing, while others bathe in public or perform nude with snakes."
"Oh no! Another friend of mine has been poisoned! I guess we'll just have to have another funeral."
The Chinese government doesn't really appreciate that their funerals look like rap videos, so they have been cracking down on the "obscene performances" and even set up a hotline where concerned citizens can report "funeral misdeeds." They've actually arrested people for putting together these shindigs.
The phenomenon is also popular in Taiwan, where it can include something called "Electric Flower Cars" that accompany the funeral procession. These would be brightly colored trucks outfitted with blinking neon lights, with racy burlesque action going on in the back of the flatbed. Some say that these performances are necessary to "appease the wandering spirits," which is a classy way of saying that ghosts get erections, too.
Marc L. Moskowitz
"They're shitty tippers, though."
The casket can be the most expensive part of a funeral -- if you're going to spend thousands of dollars on a box you'll only use once, why not go with something with a little pizzazz? Like, for example, the "fantasy coffins" of the Ga people in Ghana, also known as the race car beds of the funeral world.
Reuters via The Telegraph
"I think we found a section worse than coach."
The people of the Ga ethnic group in southeastern Ghana believe that coffins should reflect who you were before you died, especially if you happened to be the sort of crazy person who wanted to be buried in an amusement-park-looking contraption. The Ghana artisans can model your coffin after anything, and we mean anything -- for example, if you're a fisherman, you might get a fish-shaped casket:
Because if you're dead, sanity really isn't an issue anymore.
Or if you were always on the phone, there's a special model that allows you to spend eternity inside of one:
It comes with Snake preloaded, so at least you won't have a boring afterlife.
What if you just sat around drinking soda and booze all day? No problem, they've got a solution for that, too:
Via Papa Joe Workshop
The giant bag of pork rinds is available upon special request.
This seems like an elaborate joke the Ga people are playing on us, but it's real. The coffins aren't exactly cheap, either; they can cost what an average family makes in a year, and can be personalized for anyone from an airline pilot to a gynecologist. We're not even kidding about that last example, by the way -- there is a recorded instance of a lady-parts doctor placing an order for a lovingly polished wooden uterus.
They drew the line at the proctologist's request.
The functional art of these African craftsmen has made its way to European shores in recent years in galleries and as part of worldwide museum exhibition tours. Perhaps not coincidentally, being put to rest in your own unique, made-to-order wormbox has also become increasingly popular in the U.K., where one funeral home is now offering a new line of "Crazy Coffins" shaped like skateboards and guitars, among other things.
There's no way this doesn't play the intro to "Stairway to Heaven" when you open it.
When he wasn't writing books that would be endlessly quoted by annoying college stoners for decades to come, eccentric author Hunter S. Thompson liked to dabble in complete and utter lunacy and extensive drug use, a hobby that tragically led to his suicide in 2005. And when it came time to do away with his remains, it became obvious that a simple ceremony for close friends and family just wouldn't cut it. Something so mundane would be an insult to the man's memory.
Nope, Gonzo looked at the phrase "go out with a bang" with manic literalism and arranged to have his ashes mixed into some fireworks that were shot out of a cannon ... 15 stories tall ... shaped like a fist.
Reuters via Spiegel.de
God's jaw is still dislocated.
The final shot in Thompson's lifelong blood vendetta against the concepts of subtlety and restraint was fired when, following his specific instructions, his ashes were mixed into some fireworks and loaded into a 150-foot-tall cannon. Then, in a ceremony that even ancient Egyptian pharaohs would have considered "a bit much," Thompson's nearest and dearest gathered around this massive tribute to overcompensation and watched as his earthly remains were shot into the sky.
Oh, and the giant red fist was clenched around a peyote button, because at this stage, why not?
If you too decide to go this route for your funeral, be aware that it will set your family back $2 million, but don't worry: You can always just get Johnny Depp (who played Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, of course) to foot the bill. Unfortunately, Depp later erased any goodwill Thompson's ghost may have held toward him by starring in The Rum Dairies.
Bill Murray, seen here mourning the death of the only other man who could "get" the joke that is his life.