Terminally ill comic Quincy Jones ignores the clock

Quincy Jones on the rush to make laughter his legacy, despite an aggressive cancer diagnosis.
Terminally ill comic Quincy Jones on the rush to make laughter his legacy, and how Ellen DeGeneres stepped in to make it happen. (Janet Van Ham)

In the comedy world, "burning the light" refers to the light comics see when their time on stage is running out. Essentially, says Quincy Jones, it's your cue to wrap it up.

Thing is, the rising comic would be happy to go on for longer than he's meant to. His new HBO comedy special Burning The Light starts with an acknowledgment of his terminal cancer diagnosis. 

"I acknowledged it but I didn't accept it," he says of the news. 

Like the veteran record producer who shares his name, Jones's love of entertainment runs deep. Today he joins guest host Gill Deacon to discuss the new sense of urgency that now fuels his passion.

Last August, doctors told Jones he only had about a year to live. In one of the interview's most candid moments, he admits he's tired — not just physically — but still determined to forge on in the face of dismal odds. 

"Comedy is like therapy to me," says Jones. "If I can make cancer funny, anything can be funny."

WEB EXTRA | Comedy heavyweight comedian Ellen DeGeneres was instrumental in helping Jones land his special. Watch his live reaction to news that HBO has picked it up. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?