Jim Gernhart: Colorado’s Living Corpse

Jim Gernhart

In 1951 Burlington, Colorado farmer James Nelson Gernhart pulled a variation of the old “Tom Sawyer” and held a rehearsal of his own funeral. The trial run consisted of eight pallbearers carrying a casket from his home to a waiting hearse, they then attended it to the local armory, where almost half of Burlington, Colo., turned out for a funeral sermon by the Rev. S.H. Mahaffey. The local newspaper also published Jim’s obituary. Jim Gernhart continued to gain fame by holding annual funerals drawing even more attention from the media. His “last” funeral was held in 1980 after his death at the ripe old age of 103.


“Real nice funeral, ain’t it?” Gernhart once remarked. “Does a man good to see so many people out to bury him.”

Casting Call

I’ve never been afraid to talk about my favoritism toward the “reality” style of television. My interest in them has spanned all genres and styles. So it may come as no surprise that I would actually try out for one. Well, I never thought I would, but it might not surprise you.

Yesterday, G and I went down to the Teatro Hotel to try out for the travel channels new “1000 Places To Visit Before You Die” show. Both G & I are well traveled and have few serious responsibilities, so this looked like a great opportunity for us. You know, quit work and travel the world for four months on somebody elses bill. This was right up our alley.

Now I am well experienced with casting calls – I went through two very arduous tryouts for the Littleton Children’s Theatre at the tender young age of six or seven, where I proved my talent in order to win demanding roles as a goober pea in Brer Rabbit, and a punk-robot-type-thingy in some play I have nearly no recollection of (Thank God). Despite my expansive experience in “the industry” we bombed yesterdays casting call.

I don’t consider myself ugly really, but I didn’t know that the casting call went out to all the modeling agencies in Denver. Yikes. Everyone waiting around in the lobby was so perfect it made me want to puke. These were all actual TV type of people with headshots and “representatives”. But the best part is when we went in for the interview.

“Sit closer, take off your coats, we want to see what you look like” I was just hoping they wouldn’t make me spin around.

They asked us a series of questions that were relatively easy to answer and then they stumped us with this one, “What do you guys have to offer the show? You know, you would be the hosts, why would people want to watch you?”

G and I just turned and stared at each other blankly. Finally I blurted out something about being smart, and quick witted, and able to think on our toes. It was one of my worst displays of “thinking on my toes” ever. I continued to blab for what seemed like forever. It was more like my toes were doing the thinking. After jammering-on for about two minutes too long, G said something that finally shut me up. I can’t remember what she said because I was so dumbfounded I have blacked it out from my memory.

Then they got us with this one, “Where would you guys like to travel?” G said Africa and then started talking about some sort of Angelina Jolie type of stuff about culture and saving the world type of crap. Then I said, “Well my answer would be something of the opposite.” Here, they seemed to light up, thinking there might be some sort of good dynamic or drama that our relationship could add to their show. I quickly deflated their hopes by following up with, “I would like to go to Malaysia or Indonesia cause I just want to lay on the beach the whole time.”

I could just imagine what kind of ratings they would get by broadcasting my skinny, pasty body laying awkwardly in an uncomfortable beach chair occasionally dipping into the ocean to get the sand off my ass. 30 minutes of that. That’s what I told them I wanted.

For the rest of the interview I babbled incessantly while G tried to recover from how horribly everything was going. Not surprisingly, it was a short interview. Expect to see us in the very first episode where they show all of the idiots who tried out but are laughably under-qualified.