Jeanne Nott, Ms. Colorado Senior America, Stand-up Comedian
Jeanne’s philosophy of life:
- Have a sense of humor and enthusiasm! It will add years to your life and life to your years.
- Every day, do something kind without expecting anything in return. Make it a habit. When you are optimistic around others, you attract positive behavior.
How does your theatre training help you do stand-up?
- Because of my theatre training I am more self-confident. You really need confidence for stand-up.
- It has helped me learn how to work independently, quickly, and under pressure while still being flexible and adaptable.
- A healthy self-image is important and it comes through when performing stand-up.
- Most important is learning to accept disappointment, and be ready to bounce back.
How did your theatre experience help you prepare for the pageant?…before the event? at the event?
- One of the most important aspects of the Pageant is for all judges to meet each contestant individually. During this personal interview, the judges have an opportunity to select a woman whose excellent oral communication skills meet the ideals of Ms. Colorado Senior America. I was very comfortable during the interview and I know it was because of my theatre background.
- We needed to be at rehearsals on time, something that came easily for me because of my theatre training. The Pageant strongly stresses to have respect for deadlines, much like being “off book.” When we had to memorize our “Philosophy of Life,” I approached it like if it were lines in a play. Then when we had to present it, I performed it like I was in a play.
- Though the talent presentations could be from music, art, dance, etc, my work as a stand-up comedian set me apart….and who doesn’t like to laugh?!
What would you tell other senior thespians to encourage them?
- There is no age limit for actors. Anybody at any age can start training or working as an actor. All of life’s experiences and the many characters we’ve seen are the the biggest and most valuable advantages an older actor can have. I think there is less competition because there are fewer people persuing this goal at an older age.
What is your top tip for an older actor who wants to do stand-up?
- You need jokes. I know that might sound obvious but the hardest part of being a comedian is being able to write jokes, being relatable to people who don’t know you, and somehow making them laugh.
- The way to get genuine laughs is to think about the real, everyday things that happen in your life that make you laugh and start from there.
Where do you get your material?
Because most of my audience members are older adults, I look for jokes that will appeal to them. One line I use in my routine is “It’s not hard being a Senior Comedian because I never have to write new material!” That always gets a laugh! My father loved to tell me Vaudeville jokes and, luckily I have quite a few of his jokes in my repertoire. Audiences love these joikes because they can relate to them. I also do well with jokes about doctors, marriage, and animals. One liners are also popular.
Here are some examples of the jokes I use:
Growing older is merely a matter of feeling your corns rather than feeling your oats.
I told my husband what I wanted for my birthday. I told him I want something shiny and goes from zero to 150 in 6 seconds. He got me a bathroom scale.
I overheard a woman yelling at her husband. She told him, “I am so tired of you pushing me around and talking behind my back.” Her husband replied, “Well, what do you expect, Gladys? You’re in a wheelchair.”
How do you select material that is funny, but not “Ageist.”
When selecting my comedy material for seniors, I try to be conscientious, compassionate, and empathetic. Living a long life is a privilege and it is important to respect old age and continue to see older people as unique individuals and not to marginalize them into negative stereotypes.
Robert Ingersoll said that humor is invaluable as “a good medicine against all aging-related anxieties of…reality.” He goes on to say how laughter “has long been a mental salve for soothing the discomforts of human suffering.” Professionals can certainly provide comfort in addressing the issues and concerns of aging. However, good humor has proven remarkably therapeutic in helping older people navigate their advanced life stages with the ability to “look on the bright side.” Though tears may be an inevitable part of life for older adults I want to those tears to be ones of laughter.
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