January 10, 1996

Julia Sweeney

When comedian Julia Sweeney and her brother both got cancer, she decided to tell the story the best way she knew how: in a comedy club. It might seem like a strange choice, but what resulted is halfway between standup comedy and true-life diary entries.


Ira talks about the adage "Comedy equals tragedy plus time." Usually it's true, he says, though today's show is devoted to someone who decided to go on stage the same week she was experiencing some horrible things — and talk about those things. (3 minutes)
Act One

Julia's Brother Gets Cancer

Julia talks about her brother Michael's cancer. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, stage four. He had no insurance. Julia took care of him, and he and her parents moved into her house to be near a cancer treatment center. (25 minutes)

Act Two

Julia Gets Cancer

In the second half of the show, she talks about her own cancer — cervical cancer that was diagnosed six months after her brother got sick. Julia eventually turned some of these vignettes into a one-woman show called God Said, Ha!, which Quentin Tarantino made into a movie and Julia released as a book. The comedy club where she performed, Un-Cabaret, is devoted to getting very funny people to tell unusually honest stories. Julia's latest one-woman show is called Letting Go of God, excerpts of which are heard in our episode Godless America. (25 minutes)