If you, like so many, are sitting at home trying to figure out what to do with yourself next. You should know about one of the most vulnerable groups of people, a group of 20 seniors living in one of the hardest hit places; New York City, have found a way to laugh their way through their time in isolation.
Every Monday morning, one group of older New Yorkers is spending an hour in an online comedy class! These classes started in person a few weeks before the lockdown began, but once it kicked in, rather than cancelling; they just moved the class online. It is all hosted by a 33-year-old professional Comedian; Jo Firestone. A former writer on the Tonight Show and frequent TV presence who volunteered to lead the class for the Greenwich House, which a community organization that runs four senior centres in lower Manhattan.
So for that hour each week all the stress and fear disappears into a staccato of jokes, impressions and asides in this workshop. Time and again, they look for humor in the realities of masked faces, shut-in existences and worries about infection. “It releases a valve,” says Jo “Maybe they’re nervous laughs, maybe they’re release laughs, but it seems like it’s a healthy thing to joke about it.”
Tequila Minsky, who joined the class after her work as a freelance photographer and writer dried up in the lockdown, remembers students avoiding pandemic jokes at the start. But a shift occurred along the way and the virus is frequently the subtext, even if not explicit. “It all is coronavirus. You don’t even have to say it,” says Minsky, who holds her age close to her vest.
That’s right, even the current situation is not out of bounds in their comedy class; and nothing cuts through fear as quick as laughter. Al DiRaffaele, a 74-year-old retired advertising firm partner, logged on to class from a darkened room after a tough weekend in which he learned of a friend’s death. He feels the weight of the moment, but he sees no reason to stop looking for laughs. “I can still smile and look at life on the bright side,” he says, “and find the good in the negative.”
If you want to read more about this class you will find that in your Good News Story of the Day; here. But what a great lesson from these folks. Not only a good way to spend some of your time in an online class learning and practicing new skills, but also to take away the dread and ennui with laughter and comedy.
Story and Image from the Associated Press.