Comedians on Aging
Eleven beloved comics on longevity and living well
Some people might tell you that aging is no laughing matter. So how do you deal with that, if it's always been your job to be funny?
Below, we pull together different quotes and thoughts from some of our favourite aging comic legends: some funny, some wistful, some wise, some wisecracking, of course. From just-turned-65 Tim Allen, to the possibly immortal Betty White, here are some often lighthearted takes on "getting up there."
Tim Allen: stay interested!
On June 13th, 2018, "Tim the Toolman" (aka Buzz Lightyear and other memorable characters) became old enough to retire and collect a pension. Of course, he's doing neither.
I never had a midlife crisis because I'm a very interested person. I love science and medicine and people ... I'll always find something interesting. And there's no sense in complaining about getting older because we're all waiting in line for a ride we don't want to get on.
Rob Reiner: learn to not spin your wheels
The director of Stand by Me and many other favourites is a proud septuagenarian.
[As you get older] you learn what's important, what's not important and you don't spin your wheels in areas that are not important. It does get easier from that standpoint. Now, the hard part is that you're older, so physically it's more taxing, but you learn where you need to spend your energy.
Eric Idle: keep on self-effacing
At a recent launch party for the impending publication (October 2018) of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography, the Monty Python alum (one of three featured here) cracked wise.
We used to be babe magnets. Now we’re fridge magnets... I thought it was time to tell my tale before I suffer from Hamnesia, which is what happens to elderly actors.
Michael Palin: living that "older bit of life"
Interviewed in 2011 for the documentary How to Live Forever, Palin had this to say on the subject of longevity:
A long, interesting life is the ideal... But at the same time there's a lot to be said for life being uneventful, haha... There's an older bit of life, now, when you're 70 or 80. Say you're 79 and you want to look young... you should look the way you are, you should feel the way you are... if you're feeling right, you probably will project youthfulness. But to say there's a kind of identikit to make someone look young when they're not is just fooling ourselves.
Here's the full 2 minutes:
Billy Connolly: just don't grow up
In an interview with CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos a couple years ago, the Glaswegian comic spilled some sage secrets.
I think the trick is to not grow up. By all means, grow old! But growing up is always someone else's idea! I've never heard anybody say, I think I'll grow up... yeah, next Wednesday, I think I'll grow up... Or people tell you, 'You've got some growing up to do, Mister!' I still hear that a lot!
Below is the full interview, worth watching to hear Connolly's delightful brogue, and to get a glimpse at what looks like an under-appreciated movie, Quartet (2012).
John Cleese: there's beauty in aging
The Monty Python master (78 years of age, and whose mother lived to be 101!) waxes philosophical:
If you're beautiful when you get older, it's not a free gift. It's because your face shows qualities that are timeless — strength, kindness, dedication, wisdom, enthusiasm, and humour, intelligence, compassion.
Bob Newhart: stay a child!
The legendary deadpan comedian is now 88. In 2014, he offered, this bit of wisdom:
I think you should be a child for as long as you can. I have been successful for 74 years being able to do that. Don't rush into adulthood — it isn't all that much fun.
Mel Brooks: keep an open mind
The director behind classic comedies like Blazing Saddles and Spaceballs turned 92 in June! Here's his advice:
Be interested in everything. You don't have to adore it. I don't adore hip-hop, but I'm still interested in what they have to say, I listen.
Jane Caro: stay the course
Not necessarily known as a comedian, Caro's TED talk (below) on the gifts of aging is often lol funny.
Aging for men is much harder I think. They go from being a man to being an old man. It hits them like a ton of bricks. But for women it’s really much easier because we’re used to being a group that no one paid much attention to all our lives, so we’re not remotely concerned about being old women because it’s really not that much different from being (shrugs) women, really.
Betty White: stay curious!
One of the oldest working comediennes in history says the key is to stay curious.
Amy Poehler: stop whining!
Stop whining about getting old. It’s a privilege! A lot of people who are dead wish that they were still alive.