MIND THE SNAP: TUBE PHO­TO­GRAPHS

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

THERE ARE many 80-year-olds with a nice line in hu­mour. But Lynn Ruth Miller has taken her com­edy fur­ther, swap­ping the bridge club for a ca­reer in stand-up. And the Brighton-based Amer­i­can has no qualms about re­gal­ing au­di­ences with sto­ries about sex for the over-60s and her two di­vorces from “nice Jewish boys” who had turned out not quite so nice.

Seventy-one when she em­barked on a com­edy ca­reer, the for­mer jour­nal­ist and proud daugh­ter of a kosher butcher has since ap­peared on Bri­tain’s Got Talent and per­formed on the Ed­in­burgh Fringe. It is not un­known for Miller to shower au­di­ences with san­i­tary prod­ucts. “I should be in a home but I’m not,” she re­flects. “I’m in a bar talk­ing dirty.”

She was in­spired by a short com­edy course she took in San Fran­cisco. “I had al­ways been a great writer and was look­ing for some­thing to keep me busy, so I signed up to do the course,” she re­calls.

“There I was, 71, with no ego and just ready for a good time. I re­alised you can’t teach people to be funny. But what you can teach them is to present their fun­ni­ness.

“At the end of the course I per­formed this set about mam­mo­grams and I had the au­di­ence roar­ing with laugh­ter. I was hooked on mak­ing people laugh.”

She im­me­di­ately be­gan turn­ing up to open mic spots to test out her new skills. “Of course at first ev­ery­one thinks ‘oh she’s old so she’s just go­ing to be funny be­cause she’s old’. Then they re­alise it is noth­ing t o do with my age. I’m not a gim­mick.”

Cur­rently pre­par­ing for her lat­est show at the Chelsea Theatre in Lon­don, she says there are perks to pur­su­ing a ca­reer at pen­sion­able age. “I can’t think of a bet­ter way to be get­ting old. And I’m trav­el­ling to my gigs for half the price.”

Taboo topics hold no fear. “I joke about sex all the time. I have a song about con­doms and I do a strip­tease as part of the new show. Don’t worry, not all the way,” she adds re­as­sur­ingly. “People think the moral gate closes af­ter 60, but what do they think I’ve been do­ing for 80 years?”

Miller was first spotted by Bri­tain’s Got Talent scouts when per­form­ing her show, Granny’s Gone Wild, in Ed­in­burgh, hav­ing al­ready done the US ver­sion of BGT, of which she re­calls: “Piers Mor­gan is as hor­ri­ble as you imag­ine and David Has­sel­hoff is lovely, as is Sharon [Os­bourne]. I knew what to ex­pect from the UK one. I knew I wouldn’t get far but I love the process.

“Si­mon Cow­ell told me I wasn’t funny but he laughed the whole way through. It is all pan­tomime and the UK au­di­ences are the warm­est I’ve ever met.”

She de­cided to move to the UK af­ter be­ing of­fered a show on new TV chan­nel Lon­don Live. “I’ve per­formed in San Fran­cisco, LA and even Ve­gas but now I’m liv­ing above a fish and chip shop in Brighton.

“I’m soak­ing up Bri­tish cul­ture and want to be near to the work I’m do­ing here in Lon­don and in Ed­in­burgh. I’m to­tally open to meet­ing a nice English Jewish man. You’d think the lime­light at­tracts the men, but they are all in­tim­i­dated. They think if they go out with me they’ll end up in a set — and they are prob­a­bly right.”

The come­di­enne will be per­form­ing an­other show, Not Dead Yet, at Ed­in­burgh this year. “For me, be­ing able to do this is a mitz­vah,” she says. “Bub­bas might be shocked by what I do, but it’s i mpor­tant they know they have a choice, too. Get­ting older shouldn’t hold us back.”

There is Jewish­ness in all her work. “We have faced such tragedy as people and hu­mour is the best way to get over that. We do it bet­ter than any­one.”

Lynn Ruth Miller

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