Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

15 Funny Last Words That Are Morbidly Hilarious

These famous last words will have you dying of laughter

“Turn me over—I’m done on this side.”RD.com

Have you ever heard a joke so funny, you said it killed you? You’re in good company.

The 15 wisecrackers on this list are princesses and playwrights, murderers and martyrs. They span centuries and cultures, but they all share one thing: They used their dying breath to utter the funniest quotes of their lives. Like funny obituaries and the funniest tombstones, the famous last words of these witty people show that death doesn’t have to kill a sense of humor.

Their funny last words prove that this is really how the world ends: not with a bang, but with some laughter.

“What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune.”RD.com

Jean-Philippe Rameau, composer

“What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune.”

Eighteenth-century French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau was considered one of the most influential musicians of his time—and had lofty standards to match. It was a tough assignment for a tone-deaf priest, but the resulting funny one-liner is still remembered more than 250 years later.

“Good. A woman who can fart is not dead.”RD.com

Marie Thérèse Louise de Savoie-Carignan, princesse de Lamballe

“Good. A woman who can fart is not dead.”

This one speaks for itself. Marie Thérèse Louise was a princess and a confidant of Marie Antoinette, making these funny last words even more surprising. She was killed in the French Revolution, but not before cracking this frankly hilarious short joke.

“Turn me over—I’m done on this side.”RD.com

Lawrence of Rome, deacon

“Turn me over—I’m done on this side.”

Saint Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Rome, delivered this cheerful quip while being burned alive. He was one of seven deacons in Rome in 258, a time of Christian persecution. His last words were such an unconventional spiritual quote that he became known as the patron saint of cooks and comedians. In religious art, he’s frequently depicted holding the gridiron he was grilled over!

"On the contrary.”RD.com

Henrik Ibsen, playwright

“On the contrary.”

Ibsen’s wife remarked that his condition was looking improved. The Norwegian playwright, best known for writing “An Enemy of the People,” disagreed—and with good reason, as he dropped dead shortly after. These “life is short” quotes will remind you to be like Ibsen and get the last word in while you can.

"Now is not the time for making new enemies.”RD.com

Voltaire, philosopher

“Now is not the time for making new enemies.”

A priest asked Voltaire if he wanted to denounce Satan and all his works—Voltaire preferred to hedge his bets with these funny last words. The French Enlightenment philosopher was a prolific writer, including many reflective quotes about life.

“Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French fries.'”RD.com

James French, murderer on death row

“Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French fries.’”

James French, a convicted murderer, had this to say to a reporter about his impending execution by electric chair. French had the classic hallmarks of a psychopath—he was charming and witty to prison guards and reporters but also committed several cold-blooded murders. If his funny-but-macabre comment made you laugh, you’ll probably enjoy these dark jokes as well.

“Yeah, country music.”RD.com

Buddy Rich, drummer

“Yeah, country music.”

On his way into surgery, Buddy Rich was asked by a nurse if there was anything he couldn’t take. The renowned jazz musician, widely considered one of the best drummers of his time, responded with this quip. Beyond the drums, it sounds like he could also have been a master at dad jokes.

“And now for a final word from our sponsor—”RD.com

Charles Gussman, radio and TV announcer

“And now for a final word from our sponsor—”

Old habits die hard. Charles Gussman was an announcer and soap opera writer for radio and TV. He wrote the pilot script for “Days of Our Lives” and other classic TV shows. An entertainer to the end, he used his last words as a chance to share one more joke.

“Thank god. I’m tired of being the funniest person in the room.”RD.com

Del Close, comedian

“Thank god. I’m tired of being the funniest person in the room.”

Life is hard when you’re funny. Del Close would know—he was a pioneer in improv, working with Second City in Chicago and as an advisor to SNL. Check out these anti-jokes to make the burden of being funny a little easier to bear.

“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist—”RD.com

John Sedgwick, general of the Union Army

“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist—”

John Sedgwick was shot mid-sentence and died almost instantly. It was an ironic end for one of the best officers of the Union Army.

“I’m looking for loopholes.”RD.com

W.C. Fields, actor

“I’m looking for loopholes.”

This was the actor and comedian’s response when asked why he was reading the bible on his deathbed. He was a popular entertainer, known for his hard-drinking, humorously cantankerous character—including a dislike of children and dogs!

“Surprise me.”RD.com

Bob Hope, comedian

“Surprise me.”

When Bob Hope’s wife asked him where he wanted to be buried, this was his funny answer. He was an incredibly popular actor, comic and entertainer in the 1940s, and he used his final moments to crack one last joke.

“This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.”RD.com

Oscar Wilde, author

“This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.”

Oscar Wilde, author of The Picture of Dorian Gray, was famously flamboyant. One of the most famous LGBTQ writers in history, Wilde was imprisoned in 1895 for being gay, which was criminalized as “gross indecency” in England. Though his time in prison was unjust, these funny last words prove it didn’t steal his sense of humor—or his sense of style.

“Oh Lord, forgive the misprints!”RD.com

Andrew Bradford, printer

“Oh Lord, forgive the misprints!”

Andrew Bradford was an early American printer. In 1719, he printed the first newspaper in Philadelphia, which was only the third newspaper in the colonies. In 1741, he also printed the very first Colonial magazine—Reader’s Digest owes him a lot! It’s fitting that his last words were print-worthy.

 “I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.”RD.com

Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist

 “I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.”

Richard Feynman won a Nobel Prize for his work in theorizing quantum electrodynamics. He also worked on the development of the atomic bomb and on investigating what went wrong in the Challenger explosion.

But even though he helped create quantum physics, if he thought dying was boring, he must not have heard about these funny last words. So who really wins?

Sarah Vincent
Sarah Vincent is an assistant editor for Reader’s Digest, covering digital lifestyle stories. She has also worked as a culture journalist, and you can find her published in America, National Catholic Reporter and Sojourners. In her free time, she loves crafting, cooking, traveling and learning (or forgetting!) Japanese.