After she finished her stand-up comedy routine in front of an audience of about 50 people, Mimi Schneider seemed to borrow from Sally Field’s infamous 1985 Oscars speech to describe her feelings about the experience.
“They liked me!” the retired school teacher said after her five-minute set. “It was so gratifying that people liked what I said.”
The Advocate and Gochis Gallery at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza was temporarily transformed into a comedy club on a recent afternoon for the final performances of more than a dozen LGBT seniors enrolled in the Stand-Up Comedy Workshop.
The performers come from many different backgrounds but had one thing in common: A strong sense of humor.
“Twenty-three years ago, I had an hourglass figure. Of course, the sands have shifted,” Phyllis Rose-Child said during her set. “My partner used to say, ‘Your body’s like an amusement park.’ Now she says, ‘Your body’s like an ancient ruin!’”
Carl Moebus’ comedy routine focused on his life as a bisexual man.
“The weird thing about bisexuality is that everyone has this assumption that you double your pleasure,” he shared. “But we know what it really is: it’s that you double your pain—it’s the pain of rejection! By both sexes!”
Johnny Simonello tackled life as a senior in her set.
“I’m a senior citizen and getting old isn’t what it used to be,” Simonello explained. “Before when you were old, you were an elder and your opinions were respected. You were looked up to and the community embraced you. Now, everybody thinks they know everything and if they don’t they just Google it.”
Over the course of four weeks, the seniors learned the basics of standup comedy and how to perform a short set. They crafted original jokes and funny stories and were coached on delivery and overall performance by writer-comedian Caitlin Durante.
“I went into the class not knowing what to expect. By the end I was astounded with how funny they all were, how they are able to perform in front of people,” Durante said after the show.
“Most had never done it before. The fact that they were was just so inspiring and invigorating. I was so proud. They really exceeded my expectation and blew my mind,” she added.
Holland McFallister entered the class with previous stand-up experience, but he tried out new material focused on his relatively late in life realization that he is a “homo-romantic asexual.”
“I’m watching YouTube and I’m watching these 20-year-olds talking about their sexuality,” McFallister shared. “Oh my God! There’s so many more choices now. Please listen carefully the menu has changed! There’s binary and trinary and none of your damned business mister. Watching these videos I discovered what I’ve been all my life which is a happy, well-adjusted asexual.”
He described his asexuality this way: “I’m attracted to men romantically. But sexually I find men and women sexy from the waist up. I like to hug, I like to kiss, I like to touch. I’m just not that interested in sex. To me, watching porn is like watching a horror film. It always starts out nice with pretty people doing pretty things. But you know very soon something horrible is going to happen. People are going to make bad decisions and it’s going to end up with people screaming.”
After the show, McFallister described the experience as “an absolute high” and said the camaraderie in the class was “spectacular.”
“It’s such a unique group of people when you have the commonality of being LGBTQ, then you have our age, and then you have a great teacher,” he said. “The whole thing has been terrific.”
The next session of the class, again taught by Durante, begins on July 30 and has been expanded from four weeks to six weeks.
The Center’s Senior Services offers more than 100 different activities and events each month including support groups, health and fitness classes, and various cultural workshops.
Learn more about the Center’s Seniors Services, including upcoming activities and workshops, at lalgbtcenter.org/seniors.