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Humorous Tombstones

Updated on September 8, 2012

Funny Headstones

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What do you expect to read on a headstone? Usually, I would imagine, you will see names, dates, and brief tributes from family. But how would you feel if you could come back from the beyond and see people creasing up in laughter as they read the marker on your grave? Most people probably wouldn't be exactly thrilled. Some would - because they composed the funny inscriptions themselves. But others obviously had their inscriptions written by people who either didn't know them or knew them all too well and clearly didn't like them! Consider whether you would like any of the examples shown below to be used on your tombstone one day.

Dead Famous

Death is no joke to most of us. However, if you are professional entertainer or comedian, you might wish your fans to remember why they liked you when they visit your grave. Instead of feeling depressed because you've gone, they know you kept your sense of humor to the end.

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Talk show host Merv Griffin left this sentence on his gravestone:

I will not be right back after this message.


W.C. Fields showed his well-known acerbic wit in his inscription:

On the whole, I would rather be living in Philadelphia.


Mel Blanc, voice of Bugs Bunny, will be most remembered for the phrase he chose to place on his headstone:

That's all folks!


Spike Milligan, creator of the Goon Show, has a cryptic phrase in Gaelic on his headstone in a quiet churchyard in Winchelsea, West Sussex, England. It says:

Duirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite

This means "I told you I was ill."


Lord, watch your wallet
Lord, watch your wallet

Character Assassination

If the late Mexican Tomas Jimoteo Chinchilla was around in spirit, he might not have been too pleased about what he saw inscribed in Spanish on his gravestone (pictured right) The English translation is:

Tomas Jimoteo Chinchilla

Rest in peace - now you are in the Lord's arms.

Lord - watch your wallet.


They say never speak ill of the dead, but those arranging burials don't seem to have heard it. Tomas is far from being the only victim of post-mortal slander. What about poor old Anna Wallace, whose headstone in Ribblesford, England, damns her for posterity with this rhyme:

The children of Israel prayed for bread

And the Good Lord sent them manna

Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife

And the devil sent him Anna.


The criticism was a little more subtle on the grave of Ezekial Aikle in East Dalhousie Cemetery in Nova Scotia:

Ezekial Aikle - Aged 102

"The good die young"


Not all such inscriptions were so judgmental, however. Consider this one in Death Valley Cemetery, California.

Here lies the body of poor Aunt Charlotte

Born a virgin, died a harlot

For 16 years she kept her virginity

A damn'd long time for this vicinity.


Telling the Whole Story

Many tombstone inscription writers in the past had a narrative bent. Perhaps they were frustrated novelists. When the deceased had no relatives able or willing to pay for the burial, it must have been a challenge to fit the story of a person's death in just the few words the parish was willing to pay the stonemason to carve. They deserve credit for some of the most succinct story telling in the English language. Here are a few of their efforts:

A good husband, a good father, but a lousy electrician
A good husband, a good father, but a lousy electrician

First, from a Uniontown, Pennsylvania cemetery, we have an example of the simple and straightforward modern style:

Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake

Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.


An inscription on an older tombstone in Death Valley, Nevada, leaves a little more to the reader's imagination:

Here lays Butch, we planted him raw

He was quick on the trigger, but slow on the draw.


Passers-by can create their own story based on this concise inscription on a Mexican gravestone (pictured right):

Here rests Pancrazio Juvenales

1968-1993

He was a good husband, a good father, but a lousy electrician.


EVERLASTING PUN-ISHMENT

Wouldn't it be the last straw - if you were around to see it - if the person entrusted with composing your gravestone epitaph thought it was cool to make puns on your name? The ghost of Londoner Ann Mann would have been fully justified if she decided to haunt whoever composed this in her memory:

Here lies Ann Mann

Who lived an old maid

And died an old Mann.

Dec 8, 1767


Someone in Ruidoso, New Mexico, thought they were pretty smart when they composed this next little play on words:

Here lies Johnny Yeast

Pardon me for not rising


In Battersea, London, a punning wag rather unkindly revealed to the world the state of a man's finances when he couldn't resist inscribing:

Owen Moore, gone away

Owin' more than he could pay

Is nothing private?


The prize for the slickest punning grave epitaph, however, goes to the unknown poet who composed this first class example found in Boot Hill cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona. Wells Fargo agent Lester Moore had met his demise in the 1880's in typical cowboy-movie fashion. His gravestone is pictured right.


A Shortage of Poets?

Whilst many humorous tombstone inscriptions are mini-works of mini-genius, some have been created by people who thought they were good with words, but were clearly mistaken. In fact, the composers of these were not trying to be funny at all. They were the poetic equivalent of many of the early auditionees on "American Idol."

Margaret Kent's grave is in Winterborn Steepleton Cemetery in Dorset, England. Reading this verse, I can't imagine what she died of:

Here lies the body of Margaret Kent

She kicked up her heels and away she went.


Or how about this poetic gem in Schenectady, New York, U.S.A.:

He got a fishbone in his throat

And then he sang an angel note.


And who cannot shed a tear at the tragic story of a nineteenth century lady in Burleigh, New Jersey?

Here lies the body of Mary Ann Lowder

She burst while drinking a seidlitz powder

Called from this world to her heavenly rest

She should have waited til it effervesced.


Finally, a non-poetic but extremely succinct and to-the-point inscription in an Albany, New York, cemetery deserves some kind of recognition.

Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York

Born 1903 - died 1942

Looked up the elevator shaft to see if

the car was on the way down.

It was.

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    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks, kashmir56! Glad you liked it.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for this awesome hub, enjoyed read all of them and it was a very fun read !

    • Annette R. Smith profile image

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      You're welcome, Mazzy! My teacher was a lot of fun. She loved to talk, and she did choose the words for her gravestone. She lived well into her 90s, but she had the stone made and stored years before at a local granite/marble stone cutter.

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks for commenting, Denise, TycoonSam and Annette. I hope I won't get something too insulting on mine:) Annette, the one on your high school teacher's grave is hilarious - I hope she herself chose those words or at least agreed to them!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Great hub! I like to explore cemeteries, read the various inscriptions and admire the beautiful old stones. Your collection of humorous epitaphs reminds me of those for my high school German teacher (Frau Tiedt) and her husband. Hers says, "She finally quit talking" and his says, "Rest in peace."

    • TycoonSam profile image

      TycoonSam 5 years ago from Washington, MI

      Very entertaining Hub! Thanks for ending my day with a smile.

      Voted up and funny

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Had to check this one out, shared by Peggy. I love those funny inscriptions. Makes one wonder what we would put on our own. Thanks for the chuckles...

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks, Peggy W. Some inscriptions help you imagine the person when they were alive, even if they're not very complimentary:)

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks for commenting, TToombs08 and jennzie! I agree with you absolutely - I think it's best to write your own epitaph before you go:)

    • jennzie profile image

      jennzie 5 years ago from Lower Bucks County, PA

      I couldn't help but laugh at these! Still, I would hate to be the person buried beneath those grave stones... LOL.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      lol! These were great, Mazzy! I'll be sure to write my own memorial marker! Voted up and more. :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Up, funny and interesting votes. I loved this! Cemeteries are such interesting places to visit and you assembled a great assortment of humorous tombstones in this hub. I'm still smiling over some of them. Sharing!

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks, Peanutritious. I guess when someone's focus was making others smile in life, they don't want them to be too sad after their deaths. Spike was a one-off.

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 5 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      What a great idea for a hub. I love reading grave stones and find it quite moving. It's refreshing to see these humorous ones, after all, death happens to us all! I love Spike Milligan's, he was a legend. Voted up!

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      That would be a great inscription, whowas! I hope you live a really long time so you can use it. I'd love to know what shows you wrote - maybe I watched some of them. Thanks for coming by :)

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      whowas 5 years ago

      Very funny, most of these I'd never heard of apart from Spike Milligan's.

      I do remember hearing once of one that ran something like this:

      Here lies Fred

      Who was alive

      And is dead.

      Then more recently, there was:

      Here lies an Atheist.

      All dressed up and nowhere to go!

      Then there was a review of one of my early shows that read, in part, "It went on a bit too long but I enjoyed quite a lot of it."

      I thought that would make a fitting epitaph if I make it to a ripe old age.

      ;)

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks, Millionaire Tips. I think it might be best to compose your own before you go :)

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      These are so funny! I hope my family comes up with something interesting and amusing (but nice) to say about me on my gravestone.

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks, Haley. In fact, there were so many funny epitaphs I had to leave some out, as the hub would have been just too long! Some people actually compose their funny inscription themselves as they want people to smile rather than feel sad. Most of these probably didn't though:)

    • HaleyMCruz profile image

      HaleyMCruz 5 years ago from California

      This was defiantly a hub that I didn't want to laugh at...I mean it's a rather sad thing to laugh at someone's tombstone after all!!...but I tried to not laugh out loud! Some of these were hilarious, and makes me wonder how awesome those people were while they were alive! And the poet in me was happy to see so many people who could rhyme with a sense of humor. Great and Funny hub :)

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks, Green Lotus!

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Just what I needed. You have a new fan :)

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks, Nell, glad you enjoyed it!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Lol! absolutely hilarious! loved this one, Here lies Johnny Yeast

      Pardon me for not rising! haha! oh and the Charlotte one! so funny! what a sense of humour at the wrong time! lol! wonder what their other relatives thought? great hub, and so funny!

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks for commenting, mollymeadows. I guess we could avoid the whole thing by being buried at sea:)

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      Wow -- some of these are just plain cold -- Hahaha!!

      Here's the takeaway: write your own epitaph, and *beforehand!*

      Funny hub!

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image
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      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      Thanks, B Lucy. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • B Lucy profile image

      B Lucy 5 years ago from Podunk, Virginia

      This just might be THE best hub EVER!! Imaginative topic, awesome pics, and hilarious results!! Voted across the board AND shared!!