After hearing several clever ideas from the elderly woman in his comedy workshop last Sunday, comedian Tim Davis told her approvingly, “you should have a Web site.”
“I don’t even have a television,” she snapped back. “Gave it to my super.”
Despite differences in age, style and outlook, there was a strong rapport between Davis and fellow comic Pat Candaras of Stand Up New York and the dozen or so seniors who took their three-month class, sponsored by the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged (JASA), a UJA-Federation beneficiary. It was one of a number of Sunday afternoon classes offered by JASA in Manhattan, from the fall to the spring, at a nominal cost. The most popular, according to program director Sara Tornay, is on how to use a computer.
On the last day of the comedy class, which focused on how to tell a funny story, Davis, a large, curly-haired man, encouraged each of the participants to share a story or joke. Morris, who sat up front, was eager to respond, telling of an unhappy husband who offered his friend Arty a dollar to kill his wife. But the hit man had to finish off two witnesses, resulting in the next day’s headline: “Arty Chokes Three For A Dollar.”The awful pun elicited laughs all around, and was followed by stories from most of the seniors, and an original poem on aging from the TV-less woman. “Let’s remember pleasures without regret,” it concluded. Morton, a trim, gray-bearded man, told a true story of how he left work early many years ago to help his distraught wife find her missing basset hound, Fannie. It didn’t have a punch line, but it was told with style.
Morton also spoke of growing up envying his younger brother, Stanley, who was so funny that in wartime he entertained his fellow soldiers on the eve of battle.
After class, Morton told a visitor that his last name is Goldman, that he will be 77 in July, and that he was a successful textile designer now enjoying poetry, art and yoga classes. “Like yoga,” he explained, “humor helps you search for your real self.” He said he enjoyed the class because co-instructor Candaras “showed us how to turn our fears into comedy.“Besides,” he added, “she ignites my endorphins.”
Candaras, a middle-aged Irish woman who grew up as one of 17 children, shared a story with the class about her own complex relationship with an older sister who always seemed to have things her way. Candaras told the class that humor comes from life experiences, including sadness and anger, and the trick is to turn it into poetry. “A joke starts with a story that you keep working, like the stock of a soup, working it and watching it grow until it crystallizes.”
After class, she told one man to “keep that little boy in you.”“My wife says he’s always there,”