A few months ago, an 89-year-old woman, using a walker, arrived at a class for aspiring stand-up comedians in Boston. But Anita Garlick was not there because she was chasing a career as a stand-up; she was there because she had a plan.
After a life of being told she was funny, she was going to try her hand at stand-up, but just once: at her 90th birthday party. She finished the class a few months ago, has been working on her set ever since, and at her recent birthday party, she made her long-awaited world premiere.
As Billy Baker reported in the Boston Globe,
Garlick wasn’t a complete stranger to comedy. In high school in Brooklyn, N.Y., she had written a humor column for her school newspaper, “Corridor Capers,” and after moving to the Catskills to raise her family, she spent years watching the great Borscht Belt comedians during their heyday at the famous Catskills resort hotels.
“I’ve always loved comedy, and I’ve always loved to make people laugh,” she said. “There are people who appreciate comedy, and there are joke-makers.” She was definitely a joke-maker.
But the stand-up class, a gift from her son, Jonathan, was the encouragement she needed to enter the craft of comedy, to sit down and think and write and try to pull it all together into a 10-minute set.
As she prepared, she had a lot to choose from, because, as she likes to say, “I’ve had three lives.”
The first was her childhood during the Great Depression and her young adult years during World War II, when she worked in a personnel office in New York handling paperwork for the scientists who were developing the atomic bomb. (She did not know what the scientists were working on until she read their names in The New York Times after a bomb was dropped. She also didn’t know that her husband, who was in the Air Force, was secretly on the island in the Pacific where the plane carrying that bomb took off.)
Her second life was in the Catskills after the war, where her family owned, and lived above, a Jewish funeral home for 40 years. “There’s a lot of black humor there,” she said. “We called it the ‘Fun Home.’ ”
Then there was the time when she learned what a “contact high” was because her husband, Joseph, happened to be the mayor of Monticello, N.Y., in 1969 when nearly a half-million young people showed up at a farm in nearby Bethel for a music festival called Woodstock.
And then there is her third life, in Boston, where she moved in 1998 to be close to her sons, and where she continues to lead an active social life while living independently in her own apartment. On the day a Globe reporter visited, she was finishing up “The Great Gatsby” for a book club that would be coming over that night.So turn up the volume on your computer and sit back for a few laughs. If you miss some of the jokes, just read the rest of the Boston Globe article, where many of them appear.
Happy Birthday Anita, and thanks for your support as a subscriber to Jewish Humor Central. We hope you've enjoyed our jokes and thanks for sharing your jokes with our other readers.
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