Suicide is not funny. But in 1930, owing to the Great Depression, there were a lot of them. So Jean Bruller (1902 – 1991), a french cartoonist and humoriste, wrote 21 Delightful Ways of Committing Suicide, a comedy by any other name (in French it was 21 Ways of Committing Violent Death). His premise was simple, make more creative ways to achieve self-destruction. He wrote:
“W hen the publication of my book in 1926, the editor pointed out to me that to resist my own recipes and remain stubbornly alive . . . could seriously jeopardize the publication of my book. So, I had to prepare my own suicide carefully . . . I tied a rope to a tree, leaning over a cliff above the Dordogne. I loaded a revolver. I procured a potent poison. Then, in the presence of the press, I passed the rope around my neck, swallowed the poison, and jumped into the void firing a revolver in the right temple. I thought to put all chances of my side. I had not expected that the shock would divert the blow, the bullet cut the rope that I would fall in the Dordogne, a trout fisherman take me back to shore; this half-drowning finally make me vomit the poison. You could not do better in terms of failed suicide. Fortunately, it was a highly dramatic failure, as my editor, the press and public opinion kept me from trying again. “
The humor has its moments, but the notion that this is a witty handbook, the subtitle of which reads, “For the use of persons who are discouraged or disgusted with life for reasons which do not really concern us,” could be seen as wit gone awry. In any case, you be the judge. Here are some excerpts.