Sorry for Your Loss is both hilarious and painful as it is meant to be, dealing with the topics of death and grief but in a light fashion. Michael Cruz Kayne, stand-up comedian, staff writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and the host of the podcast A Good Cry, has a genial delivery much like Mike Birbiglia whom he resembles. Like Birbiglia, he also weaves personal anecdotes around the story he is telling. Dressed in blue jeans and a hoody (from designer Rodrigo Muñoz), it is as though he is talking to you from his own living room.
The inspiration for the show was the tenth anniversary of the death of his son Fisher who passed away after 34 days. Kayne tweeted that he had not talked in all those years about his grief to anyone other than his wife; by the next morning he received 40,000 retweets and likes. He realized that modern society has no mechanism for public grief, and people do not want to feel that they are alone.
As directed by the astute Josh Sharp, Kayne begins his show as a stand-up act, but warns us “This is a comedy show. BUT it is also sad. There will be long stretches where you will not be laughing. I don’t want to feel like I tricked you, so I’m telling you in advance.” However, Kayne is able to find the absurdity in things that are inherently sad so that there is much humor in his one-man show. After his stand-up comedy routine, he gives a short math lesson using a white board and later a black board (set design by Brett Banakis) to demonstrate that things are often not what they seem.
Kayne finds humor in things normally thought of as morbid: at the funeral home he received a receipt that said, “Thank you! Please come again” at the bottom. He describes a skydiving date with his fiancée later his wife that was intended to show how masculine he was but now he feels it was foolishly courting death. He reviews how grief used to be a very public ritual and that many people participated in (Civil War, the death of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, etc.) until scientists Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister explained germs and bacteria. From then on, illness and death has been thought of as something preventable and treatable because of science.
Kayne reviews the greeting cards that are available on the internet for someone who has lost a child, one more ridiculous than the other. One good thing that came out of the loss of his son was that his wife became a pediatric intensive care nurse to help other children. His podcast seems to have brought a great deal of comfort to people who need an outlet to talk about their feelings. He discusses particle and wave theory and that when we are helping others we are sending out both. Sorry for Your Loss is a very funny comedy on a serious subject. You may find it as catharsis or as enlightenment. In any case, it sends you out on a high while at the same time reminding us of some of life’s trials and tribulations but always with a very light touch.
Sorry for Your Loss (extended through June 10, 2023)
Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane, between Sixth Avenue and MacDougal Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.sorryforyourlossshow.com
Running time: one hour and 25 minutes without an intermission