Old at Heart

Friday, November 10, 2006

This past week something unexpected and very helpful in comedy happened to me. I filled in for a friend at a charity event at the Friar’s Club at the last minute, last week. For those of you unfamiliar, the Friar’s Club was the sort of gentleman’s hangout back in the day. The club has pictures of Sinatra, the Rat Pack and Reagan on the wall. I think women were not allowed in it…a while back. And membership was pretty exclusive. This is back when people got roasted who knew each other and it wasn’t a bunch of people who are strangers cursing each other out. Which is why if you see Bea Arthur and Betty White looking disgusted at modern day Comedy Central roasts, it’s because those ladies are old school.

Nowadays the place is still swank and old school and has a feeling of hallowed halls but really, it’s not hard to become a member.

Anyway I got there and the room was mainly people who had gray hair, if any left at all. In the front row, sat the man who really launched a ton of famous comics from the ’70’s and ’80’s and who started a chain of one of the most famous comedy clubs. I figured I’d eat shit and he’d see it and who cares, I bomb at his club anyway and it would be over.

And then right before I went on, I had a moment where I thought, “But I like old(er) people. My grandmother is 96 and very witty and with it, she laughs at me. Why can’t these people?”

So I got onstage and did some jokes about being a woman in comedy and did my act and talked about all kinds of things. I ended up doing all the jokes that I thought would be too riskee. I saw women in their 60’s slapping the table…applauding…hooting, hollering, the men enjoyed it too. When I got offstage a lot of old men were like, “Good job, sweat-heaht!” And the ladies thanked me. And the infamous comedy club owner asked me who represented me and he left.

The next day my manager called to tell me that the infamous comedy club owner had called him to tell him he liked my set and wanted to help me get more work…weirdly enough in cities and places and situations that I’m too afraid to touch with a ten foot pole. But this guy believes in me, even though the underlings who run his club (which will stay unnamed) usually never book me there.

So last night, I do a last minute spot for charity event at a comedy club, booked for me by my newest fan this club owner. I wanted to say, “Oh no. I always bomb at your club. I’ve had nights there where I gave up and just read the menu to the audience to spite them.” But I just accepted graciously and got my butt over there. The charity is a great one for war vets who come back homeless. (Did you know that 20,000 vets who served in Iraq’s and Afghanistan are friggin homeless? In America! In land of Support the Troops. Sickening. These people come home limbless and mentally ill and they go to the street. Awful.)

Anyway the audience was made up of war veterans, some had been homeless and rehabilitated, the other were older people again. I was psyched. Here we go. The rest of the line-up were seasoned, male road comics, no one under 40. (I don’t think.) And I had a great set. It may not have been as roof pounding as one guy in particular but they once again ate up what I served. And I had fun. And I had to hold for applause. At a club where I usually yell at people to stop using their Blackberry while I am on stage or stop staring at me like they’re going to kill me.

And then I realized. I hate the young. I have such contempt for women who see comedy dressed like Paris Hilton and guys who look like they would have hated me in high school. But older people….I know what they want. To just be treated like people. They know about sex. That’s how WE all got here. They know about swears. They know about life, they’re at the end of it! And they are funny and loose and not hung-up on anything. And when you take the stage as a comic and you don’t secretly hate the audience, I think a light shines out of your heart like those Jesus posters.

So, I wish I could exclusively play for older people. They are not as outwardly sexist and they get irony and when I say things that might be a little sad or shocking they LAUGH they don’t say, “Awww” and they don’t go, “Oooooh.” They respect comedy.

And who doesn’t love a show that starts with the Pledge of Allegiance and a flag ceremony? What was weird about the Pledge of Allegiance, is that I too, disagree with the “under God” part. And I’m a believe in God-er. But to me, it’s not so much putting words in my mouth, but words in God’s. God doesn’t acknolwedge or care about nations, these stupid things that humans make for themselves. God is love and peace. And that’s about as simple as it gets. God does not want to get involved in blessing nations. That’s why God does not make appearances on battlefields. Just my opinion.

It was interesting that we didn’t talk politics on stage. Any time a comic wanted to say something, I think we were all jonesing to know, “What do you guys think about the mid-term elections?” One speaker who wasn’t a comic mentioned it and there was rousing applause for the firing of Rumsfeld and some vets kept quiet. I think that they too, are beyond the battlefield. They are not there, once they get there, for politics, it’s just life and death and your other buddies. However, I’m sure that no one is against a better GI bill.

I liked being in a room full of people who could have a touching and rousing opening ceremony, who could acknowledge that as we laughed, 20,000 vets remained homeless, anger and pride were recognized but these folks were still able to laugh at jokes. Highly intelligent behavior. They weren’t whining like, “This is depressing. God. Why are they talking about homeless people? And now I’m supposed to laugh? This is nothing like On Demand or TIVO, where i can pick what I want. I have to feel all my feelings at once? Eww..” Not like the usual weekend dipshits that frequent this club, the place they go to get drunk before they have more awkward encounters with their blind date.

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