That's Not Funny; My Brother Died That WayCommentary • Family • Opinion • death • movies • ISSUE 35•27 • Aug 4, 1999 By Dave Helger Dave Helger Hey, listen, guys. Listen up. This is a great party and everything, and it's cool you invited me and all, but I have to speak up about that scene in Police Academy you were just talking about. You know that part where the guy flies off the motorcycle handlebars, and he flies right at the horse's ass and gets his head stuck in it? Remember how funny you said that was? Well, I just want to say I didn't appreciate that too much, because my brother died that way. I've never really talked about what happened to Brad, because it's just so painful to discuss. But on Oct. 11, 1995, he slammed his motorcycle into a fruit cart and flew over the handlebars, sending his head straight up the ass of a police horse. By the time the paramedics got there to pull him out, he'd suffocated to death. Frankly, I don't see how you guys could think that kind of thing is funny. Or how a director could consider it appropriate for a comedy. Before the accident, Brad was on top of the world. He'd just graduated from UC-Berkeley and was about to take a high-paying job with a top Silicon Valley software firm. His goal was to run the company in 10 years, and I bet he would have done it, too. The day before he died, he told me he was thinking of asking his girlfriend Lisa to marry him. And then, boom, just like that, he was gone. Our family was by no means rich, and Brad's funeral pretty much wiped out our savings. Especially since his life-insurance policy didn't cover equine-anal suffocations. So now you might understand why I don't think it's funny to see that sort of thing played for laughs. You know, statistics show that over the past 25 years in the U.S., motorcycle-borne equine-anal head lodgings have accounted for three deaths. You'd think somebody would do something about that, but the horses are still out there, and motorcycle manufacturers have not redesigned their products to address the problem in any way. I don't want to get all heavy on you, but it just really disturbs me how cold and heartless people can be sometimes. As if deadly accidents involving horse asses are funny. Or accidents involving banana peels or anvils or fishing boats, for that matter. To some people, I suppose the idea of being killed by an exploding, hand-delivered candygram is funny. Apparently, it was funny to Mel Brooks, funny enough to put in Blazing Saddles. But is it funny to the grieving families of all the people who have died that way? I don't think so. In the grief-management retreat I attended after Brad died, I met a lot of people who share my point of view. How would you feel if your wealthy relative careened into a swimming pool on a runaway golf cart that had been sabotaged by "slobs" and then drowned? It wouldn't seem quite so funny then, would it? Especially if those responsible had never been brought to justice and had, in fact, won the big tournament by sinking a lucky putt at the very last second. And then there's the story of my uncle's best friend's death. He was chased by a horde of young women who were naked except for rollerskating equipment. They relentlessly chased him all the way to the edge of a cliff, where he fell off and died. Everyone in the family thought it was an unspeakable tragedy, but not those Monty Python jerks. Apparently, they think being chased off a cliff in the prime of your life by semi-nude skaters is a big joke. Oh, so now you're going to laugh at him, too? You think chasing a man off a cliff is a regular laugh riot? Because I sure don't. If I had my way, it would be illegal to put garbage like that on television. I didn't want to have to bring this up, but I can see I'm going to have to tell you about my great-uncle, a saint of a man who thought only about the well-being of his family. But then came that fateful day when he chased a mouse into a bread factory and ended up on the conveyor belt where the bread gets cut. Well, you can imagine what happened: He got sliced up by these giant hinged cleavers that ratcheted up and down, and he eventually came off the line packaged in an oblong-shaped loaf, with his blinking, confused face on one of the end pieces. The day that delivery truck dropped him off on our front steps was the darkest day of my life. But try explaining that to Friz Freleng. People can be so cruel.