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April 27, 2009 | by  | in News Opinion |
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Student’s battle with cancer mocked by hilarious theatre sports troupe.

In the week that wasn’t, the family of John Michaelson were “shocked and appalled” to learn the 21-year-old’s brave battle with cancer had been used as fodder by a travelling band of improv actors.

Michaelson, who until his diagnosis with stomach cancer in late 2008 had studied law and commerce full time at Victoria University of Wellington, became the inadvertent prop of the ‘Wize Guyz Smarmy Army’ Thursday night improv show during a game of ‘Paper Chase’.

In ‘Paper Chase’, audience members are asked to write brief sentences on scraps of paper. The improvisors begin a scene, and, at regular intervals, read one of the scraps of paper and work it into the scene.

Michaelson’s mother Janet Michaelson was attending the troupe’s show with colleagues from Brunstein & Robinson, and could not believe what unfurled.

“Apparently, one of those pieces of paper had the words ‘Urrrgghgh, I’m dying of cancer like that pussy bitch John Michaelson,” she said.

“The ‘Smarmy Army’ then proceeded to roll around on stage clutching their stomachs and moaning things like ‘Oooh, I’m in too much pain to jump a quad bike over the Manawatu Gorge because my name is John Michaelson and I have stomach cancer because I’m a little bitch, errgghghgh.’ It was horrendous.”

The Head of the Wize Guyz Smarmy Army, Dougall ‘Wolfman’ Richardson, said while the use of Michaelson’s terminal illness and impending death was a “bit rough,” it had yielded surprisingly good results.

“We ended up milking 10–20 minutes of material out of that guy,” said Richardson.

“Ray ‘Corkscrew’ Caplan somehow managed to work Robert de Nero in Taxi Driver into the scene.

Like, he said, ‘You lookin’ at me? You must be lookin’ at me, doctor, because I’ve got stomach cancer and will probably die right here. That’ll be eight bucks fifty for the fare.’ It fucking killed on stage.”

Janet Michaelson, however, did not see the inherent hilarity of blowing spitballs at the terminally ill.

“My boy is lying at home wasting away and these clowns are up on stage squeezing prop horns and saying, ‘Toot toot! Here come da Cancer Cart, all aboard for Chemo Country!’ What am I supposed to tell him?” she said.

Surprisingly enough, John Michaelson himself didn’t share his mother’s sense of outrage.

“It was probably my mate JP who wrote it,” he laughed between coughs. “He’s always taking the piss outta me, calling me ‘Chrome Dome’ and ‘K K Kancer’.”

“When you’re lying around sick all day, you get annoyed with people feeling sorry for you all the time. My body’s failing me, not my sense of humour.”

Buoyed by Michaelson’s response, The Wize Guyz Smarmy Army promised to perform a special one-off performance for the brave student sometime in the near future.

“We better keep it short, like his hair, ‘cos while our material may kill, we don’t want him to die,” Richardson said.

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