I could only hack half an hour. Seriously - who the fuck would want a funeral like that? If I knew my family did that to me, I'd come back and haunt them and their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on for eternity. Just roast me in the oven and flush the ashes. Why carry on like it's Mardi Gras? In the scheme of things, none of us is that important.
What kind of pastor would preside over such blatant mockery and sacrilege. Professional mourners? Santa Claus in the pulpit? Talking about ribs in an eulogy? These pastors can't be real clergy.
There are a lot of ways to honor the dead, and the Golden Gate Funeral Home in Dallas, Texas, specializes in some of the more outrageous ones. From a barbecue-themed funeral to a trip with ashes on a roller coaster, "Best Funeral Ever" spotlighted the many outrageous ways in which loved ones honor those recently passed.
Perhaps the most bizarre funeral accessory spotlighted was the inclusion of "professional mourners." These are people who audition and are trained to bring the most "authentic" mourning experience to the funeral service, even though they don't know anyone there.
The TLC special took viewers behind-the-scenes to see the audition process, as well as a "class" during which funeral director John Beckwith Jr. made sure these are the best of the best.
"Earn your money! Bite your lip, one more time. That’s it. That’s what I’m looking for!" he told one woman. To another, he said, "Don’t give up. Keep going. It’s a two-hour funeral, we gotta keep it going."
The Hollywood Reporter found these "pros" a little bizarre, while The New York Daily News wrote that they were less comfortable watching this portion of the special.
By T.L. Stanley
January 2, 2013, 7:00 a.m.
One look at the setting — a barn dressed with livestock, bales of hay and picnic tables — and it's immediately obvious that this is no ordinary funeral.
The casket's shaped like an oversized grill used for smoking meat, and pallbearers are wearing crisp white aprons and chef's hats. Live pigs squeal and run amok, while a tabletop fountain spits out barbecue sauce instead of chocolate, perfect for dipping freshly cooked ribs.
This is the eternal send-off, after all, of Willie "Wolf" McCoy, the man whose soulful voice is immediately recognizable to millions of people. Anyone, in fact, who's ever heard the Chili's restaurant theme song has heard McCoy singing, "I want my baby back, baby back, baby back."
GRAPHIC: Faces to Watch 2013
The ceremony, staged by the massive Dallas-based Golden Gate Funeral Home, is intended to properly remember the local celebrity who had performed at Harlem's Cotton Club and toured with the Drifters. What it's not, insists the architect of the event and the cable network that intends to air it, is morbid or tasteless.
"We want you to know who the person was and how he lived, not just the fact that he passed away," said John Beckwith Jr., chief executive of Golden Gate and star of the TLC special "Best Funeral Ever." "This is a celebration."
TLC, home of controversial series such as "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," "Breaking Amish" and "Sister Wives," is testing out another potential lightning rod with "Best Funeral Ever," which after being postponed in recognition of the Connecticut school shootings is slated to air Sunday.
The one-hour program highlights three of Golden Gate's services, called home-going ceremonies, the families and loved ones of the deceased, and the employees who create the over-the-top events themed to hobbies, professions and personal passions.
There are conflicts — a couple of funeral planners repeatedly butt heads — obstacles and resolutions, much like any other reality show. But the subject matter couldn't be more different from other unscripted series on television.
Executives at TLC said they "fell in love with" the crew at Golden Gate and thought the business would make compelling TV. The funeral home, founded by Beckwith's father in the '80s and now expanded to three locations, is on track to handle some 2,500 services this year, making it one of the busiest funeral homes in the Southwest.
"We're documenting what they do, and what they do so well is throw amazing home-going ceremonies," said Mike Kane, TLC executive producer. "We love the fact that they're bringing closure to these families. We don't think there's anything morbid about it."
If the special performs well with audiences, the network brass will consider making it a regular series. The show is "on brand" because, like TLC series that peek into religious cults, enormous families and unusual pastimes, it examines little-known subcultures that thrive throughout the country, Kane said.
Beckwith, who said there's no family request too outlandish to consider, believes the show can educate viewers about home-going ceremonies that are unique to African American funeral parlors.
That includes so-called professional mourners, employees of the funeral home who attend services and encourage public grieving with their own animated displays of emotion. (Beckwith, in a scene from the special, coaches a group of mourners on their technique, singling out for extra praise people who scream and flail.)
"Professional mourners have been around since biblical days," Beckwith said. "They help families through the grieving process."
George Bonanno, a psychology professor at Columbia University and an expert on death and bereavement, said many cultures outside the U.S. have more celebratory, interactive, even boisterous funeral services. There's less an emphasis on the person leaving this world and more on him or her going to a better place.
Beckwith's funeral philosophy is "
With the man's cremated remains in tow, Beckwith, several of his employees and family members hit t
Remember the funeral in Angels in America that had the Sicilian professional mourners?
The Pastor is one scarry dude. Black people never fail to amaze
r7, I never saw that.
I loved the AiA funeral with the Dixieland band, the gospel chorus and all the DQs in the audience (esp "Barbra."
This show has done what virtually nothing can: shock the conscience of America. It was all people talked about last night in Twitter and Facebook. Is nothing sacred anymore?
So as you will fondly recall, I told you about that new TLC reality show, Best Funeral Ever, about the wacky and ratchet funerals done by the Dallas based Golden Gate Funeral Home (HERE) that premiered last night, I'm sure, to great ratings.
In case you happened to miss it, here's a video clip below from a Christmas themed funeral that has to be seen to be believed.
I mean that, really, and after you've seen it, you still won't believe it.
But if you think that's something, you should have seen the clip from the barbeque-themed, Las Vegas stage show funeral that was held for a deceased loved one.
It was jaw droppingly amazing. I mean, it was just beyond ratchet. There aren't any words in the English language to describe it, especially when you see that the coffin is shaped like a large outdoor grill.
So feast your eyes on this:
‘Best Funeral Ever’: Most frightening reality TV show to date?
By Clinton Yates
I've been to a lot of a funerals. Never once did it occur to me to consider I might rank one "better" than another. After all, someone has died. But some people consider death a time to celebrate gaudily and that's where Dallas' Golden Gate Funeral Home comes in. And TLC's new show, “Best Funeral Ever” is positively frightening.
To be clear, I'm not passing judgment on anyone that chooses to make their funeral a big, even if ridiculous event, but those events are private. A television show that effectively trivializes death for the purpose of a party is not the direction that we need to be moving in as a society.
Listen, I get it. Absurd reality shows have become the backbone of television programming, in the way that game shows once littered the landscape. And as I said before, even in the face of seemingly obvious dysfunction, not all of these shows (such as “All My Babies’ Mamas”) are without merit.
But for “Best Funeral,” the problem is that there is absolutely no payoff. The show seems to highlight the fact that people think these forms of "mourning" are weird. The idea of inserting a reality show into the business of death is more ghoulish than I care to ever see again.
Some might say this is another program in a long line that makes black people look bad. Between the Real Housewives series, the Love & Hip Hop shows, the aforementioned “All My Babies Mamas” and so on, there is no shortage of programming that seems to capitalize on highlighting how some people of color tend to operate. But this show is worse than that. This show makes America look bad.
The employees of the home are all black and everyone they go to for commercial help is white. The show isn't some commentary on race relations, but you can't help but notice the obvious juxtaposition of seemingly confused white folks to the funeral home hijinx of the negroes celebrating death.
At one point, we are informed by John Beckwith, Jr., owner/CEO, that his company has a little secret: professional mourners. In his class – yes, they have a class to instruct their employees how to feign grief — Beckwith says, “not all families know how to show their emotions. Some families need someone else to start crying, before they can start crying.”
He then stresses the importance of proper alligator tears. “A mourner can make or break a funeral,” Beckwith instructs. “This family has one time to celebrate their loved one’s funeral. We must get it right.”
Seriously, TLC? In a time when we're forced to witness funeral after funeral due to the ills of an allegedly civilized society that finds people senselessly taking lives, you're airing a show where people are faking misery for money in real life?
In one show scenario, the original singer of the Chili's Baby Back Ribs song is being celebrated. The funeral features a BBQ-sauce fountain, a casket that looks like a smoking pit and a Flinstones-sized prop of a side of ribs. There is a ceremonial dipping of a rib into the barbecue sauce as some sort of commemoration.
Another is a Christmas-themed event, complete with double-digit farm animals as part of some sort of Nativity scene. Lastly, there's one service in which Golden Gate holds a funeral at the Texas State Fair. They bring the urn to the fair and let the family ride the rides with it. The cause is noble enough: the deceased lived with a physical condition that prevented him from ever enjoying such a pleasure while he was alive.
I understand that moments of levity can be helpful, even cathartic. I remember when an aunt of mine passed in 2004. She always had a knack for finding the fun part of life. And during her service, when a man nobody recognized found his way to the pulpit during the remembrance portion and loudly longed for a person of a different name, the comedy of the gentlemen's obvious confusion broke up the tension in the room.
It was exactly the kind of unplanned, irreverent moment befitting of who she was. "Of course that happened," we all said to each other afterward. And not in a bad way. Nobody likes funerals, but they are a part of life. I have no issue with Golden Gate Funeral Home doing what they do to make money, but TLC's exploitation of how families mourn their dead is shameful in an era in which we can barely focus on keeping each other alive.
GODDAMMIT I MISSED IT!!! Is it going to be on again?
The NAACP should march on TLC headquarters to protest this jaw-dropping show. I have seen a lot, but this show takes the cake.
r16, it is on now.
Some viewers have shown disgust over the funeral that was held for Willie "Wolf" McCoy, the famous singer of Chili's baby back ribs jingle. TLC's "Best Funeral Ever" was apparently the worst in their opinions.
The light-hearted but somewhat irreverent service was done at Golden Gate Funeral Home in Dallas, Texas. Pallbearers carried the smoker-shaped casket as they sang the tune that made McCoy famous. The minister had on a chef's toque, and real pigs were added to complete the theme.
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Mourners - if that is the correct terminology - even had ribs to dip in a fountain of barbeque sauce. Classy.
Predictably, some expressed their disapproval over the bizarre idea of a BBQ-themed funeral, in comments posted online:
Sharon: This show made Honey Boo Boo seem sophisticated and intelligent. Absolutely disrespectful and low class. I would not bury my dogs with these buffoons. Incredibly asinine!!
purplepar: Does this family really think that he would be honored to know that they reduced his entire life down to one stupid song in a rib commercial? That was the most ignorant mess I have ever seen at a funeral. Was this man a husband? Father? Son? I guess none of that mattered.
peppertrekker: Sounds like he went up in smoke.
Anonymous: I have heard about "homecomings" before, but is this legit? The excess of this? Has anybody ever been to something remotely close to this? I'm Catholic and sing at funerals -our funeral masses are pretty staid so this just blew my mind. I do know we get lots of weird requests for songs that the deceased liked but this was just WTH land.
However, to be fair, the widow of the deceased was apparently pleased with the entire production.
Our reaction? Perhaps best summed up by another posting:
Jacqueline Moore: THIS IS SO SAD
Perhaps not moving, but sad nonetheless.
Watched the show, the only positive funeral was the one for the handicapped man, who loved county fairs, but he could never ride the rides, since he was disabled.
End the end, he could ride all the rides.
[quote]End the end, he could ride all the rides.
And puked in his urn on the Tilt-A-Whirl.
I'm home recovering from surgery and watched this today. OMG this shit was SO over the top. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to rip my stitches out. This would be the perfect show to watch after smoking copious ammounts of pot.
Damn it R14 you beat me to it!
It's back on TLC.
Golden Gate is doing this for the money. Black funerals in Dallas are NOT like this & most are quite subdued. Had several family members funerals there over the years & there were no professional mourners.