‘Conan’ writer used comedy to cope with the death of her mother from coronavirus

Comedian Laurie Kilmartin appeared on Conan, Wednesday. She is a staff writer on the show, and recently made headlines when she documented the death of her mother, JoAnn Kilmartin, from the coronavirus on Twitter.

Kilmartin’s mother contracted the deadly virus while temporarily visiting a nursing home for physical rehabilitation. Due to quarantine restrictions, Kilmartin was unable to physically be with her mother. As a way of coping with the stress, she started tweeting jokes about the situation.

“Like every comic, you don't like to sit in a feeling too long,” said Kilmartin. “You want to pull yourself out of it and the best way to do that is write a little joke about it.”

Her mother’s passing was also a cautionary tale for families divided by politics, as her mom was a supporter of Donald Trump, whom Laurie opposes. “I regret that I let it get in my head so much because I think it affected the last year or two that I had with her because I was so enraged,” said Kilmartin. “I would blame her for policies that she didn't know about.”

Since Laurie finds comfort in dark comedy, host Conan O’Brien shared his condolences in a most fitting way. “You have a lot of people around you that love you and we care about you,” said O’Brien, adding, “And you’re fired.” Kilmartin responded by laughing uproariously.

Video Transcript

LAURIE KILMARTIN: Like every comic, you don't like to sit in a feeling too long. You know, you like to pull yourself out of it. And the best way for us to do is it is write a little joke about it. And I didn't feel like people knew enough what a COVID death was like and how strange, and surreal, and awful it is.

KYLIE MAR: Comedian and "Conan" staff writer Laurie Kilmartin appeared on the show Wednesday, where she discussed the tragic passing of her mother due to COVID-19, which she humorously documented on Twitter.

LAURIE KILMARTIN: "I was just notified that since my mom was a Trump supporter who died from COVID, her death has been ruled a suicide."

CONAN O'BRIEN: Oh, wow, OK. [LAUGH]

KYLIE MAR: Due to quarantine rules, Laurie, like so many others, wasn't able to physically be with her mother in her final hours.

LAURIE KILMARTIN: She's just on my iPad. And I just take her around the house. And we'd be talking to her all the time. We just kind of-- we included her in everything we were doing. And I think that was so important.

KYLIE MAR: Her mother's passing was also a cautionary tale for families divided by politics as her mom was a supporter of Donald Trump, whom Laurie opposes.

LAURIE KILMARTIN: I regret that I let it get in my head so much. Because I do think it affected the last year or two I had with her because I was so enraged. I would blame her for policies that she didn't know about when I looked at the media she was consuming.

KYLIE MAR: And since Laurie finds comfort in dark comedy, Conan shared his condolences in the most fitting way he could think of.

CONAN O'BRIEN: You have a lot of people around you, as you know, that love you. And we care about you. And you're fired--

LAURIE KILMARTIN: [LAUGH]

CONAN O'BRIEN: Maybe this isn't a good [? time, ?] maybe right after the death of your mom and you're not-- here on Zoom, on television. But--

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