The 6 Least Solemn Funerals Around the World
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 ...
Surround Your Casket With Strippers
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.
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.
"They're shitty tippers, though."
Get Buried in a Plane-, Phone-, or Uterus-Shaped Coffin
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.
"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:
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.
Go Out in a Giant Fist-Shaped Cannon, Like Hunter S. Thompson
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.
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.
Get Buried in Your Favorite Vehicle
The ancient Egyptians believed that a man should be buried with all his possessions so that they would be available to him in the next world. Ninety-year-old Lonnie Holloway from Saluda, South Carolina, sought to bring this tradition back when he requested to be put to rest in the front seat of his vintage 1973 Pontiac Catalina. To which his family replied with a clear "Sure, why the fuck not?"
"Oh no, we'll miss the car so much because we totally didn't hate it at all!"
Apparently Holloway thought that your first day in the afterlife is like the first day of high school and that you need to make an entrance in a cool car or else you won't get to sit at the popular table. As if this wasn't cool enough on its own, Holloway also requested that his family place a hundred-dollar bill in the pocket of his suit and that his gun collection be buried along with him. Clearly his conception of the next life was less "pearly gates" and more "GTA Vice City meets Death Race 2000."
Holloway might have had the most baller funeral around, but he still couldn't match the hands-down crazy of a Puerto Rican man who, at his wake, was embalmed and posed sitting on a motorcycle in the middle of the funeral home.
We should probably take a second to apologize for calling a dead man crazy before something fucked up happens.
During the three-day wake, the recently deceased David Morales Colon was displayed to the public leaning over the top of his sports bike as if he was just about to slide it under an 18-wheeler. He was dressed in his normal street clothes, including a hat and dark sunglasses, presumably so his friends could drive him out into the world and engage in some Weekend at Bernie's-style shenanigans.
His relatives said that their reason for rejecting the traditional "not posing a dead guy on a motorbike" method of funerals was because riding bikes was Colon's hobby. We think we should all breathe a sigh of relief that he wasn't also an avid nudist.
And apparently, another hobby of his was being Ice-T.
Be a Player at a Palm Mortuary Vegas-Style Funeral
If you can have a Vegas-style wedding, why not a Vegas-style funeral? Seriously, name one reason that doesn't include the words "tacky," "undignified," or "might cause a superior alien race to exterminate us."
"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Forever."
Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas allows you to personalize the shit out of your future funeral. For example, if you're really into casinos, you can totally have giant decked-out playing cards and slot machines next to the box containing your mortal remains, plus a roulette wheel done in flowers. They're even willing to go so far as to take out the traditional stickers on the slots and put your photo in their place. And yes, the reels spin like in a real machine.
But this is just one of the many themed funerals Palm Mortuary offers, which range from $1,000 to $3,000. If you're into golf, there's a golf-themed option where the casket is surrounded by giant clubs and "golf bags filled with floral bouquets made with golf balls." Or if you like Westerns, there's a version that includes hay, cacti, a plastic pony, and a massive cowboy boot.
Because nothing describes a personality better than a massive cowboy boot.
If you're looking for something a little more affordable, Bunkers Mortuary, also in Vegas, offers coffins adorned with the city's fabulous logo and Elvis impersonators who sing during the reception. No word on whether they can officiate at the ceremony, too.
That's weird ... usually in Vegas, they just bury you in the desert with no coffin at all.
For Palm Mortuary, the only caveat is that the funeral must be "dignified and legal." Considering that their definition of the first word is pretty loose, perhaps the second one can also be stretched and you can get some of those Chinese strippers to perform lewd acts in front of everyone.
Get Quick Condolences With a Drive-Through Funeral
We've all had to attend the funeral of someone we didn't know very well, or at all, and just awkwardly stood there for an hour trying to look as somber as possible for the benefit of the bereaved. But that's just how it is, right? Everyone knows that only a fraction of the people who attend the ceremony willingly stick around for more than five minutes, but what are we supposed to do? Set up drive-through funerals for those in a rush?
That's exactly what a funeral home in Compton, Los Angeles, did: You simply drive in, look at the casket set up on display on the other side of the glass for as long as you feel like, and drive out. The manager says that the parlor is convenient for old people who find it hard to walk and lazy people who find it hard to give a fuck about their acquaintance's death.
"I'll have two large burgers with- Oh. Shit, I'm so sorry."
And they aren't the only ones to do this. In the 1980s, a drive-through funeral home in Chicago was set up exactly like a McDonald's. Mourners drove up to a speakerphone and pushed a button to give their "order" (that is, say the name of the person they'd come to see). Then they drove up to a "viewing area" where they could see the deceased's face on a 25-inch screen. The picture only lasted three seconds, but they could keep pushing a button to see it again for as long as they wanted.
The irony of viewing someone who had died in a drive-by shooting would open up a portal to another dimension.
The creator of this system, former construction worker Lafayette Gatling, found the comparison to fast food chains insulting. You know who else might find this a tad insulting? The dead dude who got put behind a window like some damned cheesecake. Yeah, if you put someone up for display like this, you can bet they'll haunt your ass for the rest of your life.