…But The Jokes Are New!February 20, 2012
Doing stand-up takes nerves of steel, a thick skin, and lightning-sharp mental reflexes. Maybe that’s why it’s always been a young person’s game, at least when you’re starting out.
Not anymore. Over in the UK, Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival, the longest running festival of its kind in the country, just hosted the first Silver Comedy Stand-Up of the Year competition. The only requirement for eligibility is that comics must be older than 55. Or, their laugh lines must be on their faces as well as in their material.
The event was born after LCF chief Geoff Rowe talked with his mother’s 70-year-old friend, who’d never been to a comedy club and told him, “I’m too old. It’s not for the likes of me.”
George Baddeley, managing director of Silver Comedy, which conducts comedy workshops for mature individuals, said, “You don’t see new people breaking in who aren’t young – this is a chance for them.”
The fact is, a vast number of vaunted comedians are still going strong at AARP-eligible ages, including 69-year-old Billy Connolly, who just last month was voted “most influential comic” in a poll of fans and top stand-ups in the UK. In 2009, a 75-year-old comic named Grandma Lee was among the 10 finalists on America’s Got Talent. And look how Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers, and Don Rickles are enduring, with careers still thriving in their golden years.
The Silver Comedy contestants included 24 comedians, both veteran and untested, male and female, some as advanced in age as their 70′s and 80′s. After presenting a three-minute set in the first round of review, the final 10 selected had the opportunity to perform before a paying audience of about 100.
The coveted golden microphone went to 63-year-old transsexual–and seasoned stand-up vet–Shelley Bridgman.
Seventy-seven-year-old Julie Kertesz, who was glad to challenge stereotypes about seniors, was awarded Best Old Newcomer. An immigrant who’d never used profanity before she climbed on a stage, she now acknowledges that four-letter words earn her laughs. Kertesz’s act also includes riffs on senior sex lives and her husband’s fooling around.
Most satisfying of all had to be the audience reaction that night. As one mere child of 18 reported, “I know it was specifically older comedy, but I didn’t see it as that. I just saw it as good comedy.”
Thanks Emily! The award was : Best Silver Comedy Newcomer 2013.
Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival,Grandma Lee, Julie >