From Ackee Seeds to Stage Time: Getting into Stand-Up Comedy at 58

Black Sheep Comedy is run by two women who have survived their 20s and 30s pretty much intact. One of us has even navigated through her (gasp) 40s!  We LOVE our new venture, Black Sheep Comedy, and we LOVE getting feedback from audience members. That said, many of the women will say things that we don’t love so much. For example, during a two-minute conversation, we hear some variation of: “I wish I had the nerve… Oh no, I couldn’t… Not at my age… No one wants to hear jokes from an old lady.”
Here’s the thing. Even if we are old (which we’re totally not), a lot people DO want to hear jokes from an old lady! Our audiences do not exclusively consist of 20 somethings, and neither do our lineups. Black Sheep Comedy is built on a foundation of diversity and inclusion, including age! So, over the next month, we’re publishing a series of guest articles from women who waited to get into comedy. Please join us as they cover topics such as their personal catalyst or experiences that drove them to comedy, tips for getting started, and other helpful advice…

From Ackee Seeds to Stage Time: Getting into Stand-Up Comedy at 58 by Beverley Ellis

Me NO, absolutely Not.  It only happened because of fear. 

Have you ever looked in the mirror and realized there is less time in front of you than behind and you have dreams you’re afraid to try?

At 58 I appraised my life harder than I ever had before.  Divorced, 2 grown children, in a soul mugging job and 2 years from the tender age of fuck it.  Everything was under surveillance. It was time to rise above mediocrity and embrace the freedom to live a dream.

It started with a writing course at Second City. Changed my life within 6 minutes. Because I learned it was not a writing class.  It was an oral story telling class.  Did I just pay hundreds of dollars to be with yoga bending, kale smoothie drinking, finger snapping hippies?  It wasn’t like that at all.  We were like minded people looking to be comfortable with living out loud.

It was the girl with beauty pageant hair and ackee seed eyes who changed my perspective.  At the end of the session she said she was going on to do a stand-up class. Stand up?  What? Who did she think she was to be able to do Stand up?  She’s pretty. It’s one thing to stand up in front of people and tell a story and suck, its a far greater humiliation to do it in front of the attitude “you better be funny”.  It was then I realized I was a naysayer projecting my own fear onto someone else’s dream. Like my mother did, when I was 8 and I told her I wanted to be an actor and she looked at me as if I lost my mind.  My mind forever straight-jacketed from ever sharing that dream.

I watched ackee-seed’s first show and got flutters in my belly as if it were me up there.  I held my breath until I felt her get high on her first laugh and express pure joy.  I want to feel that too!

Back to Second City for Stand-up level 1 where I learned to craft my first “tight 5”.  Classmates served as a dedicated audience until grad class where I invited 7 friends and family members to watch me perform for my first “live” audience of about 70 people.  My heart was pounding in my throat. More for me than ackee-seed’s.  When I got on stage the lights were blinding and narrowed my vision to a few in the front row.  My first laugh was immediate, and they laughed in places I didn’t expect them to laugh.

Let me tell you. You can not live vicariously through someone else’s experience. When I got my first laugh, I didn’t feel the high.  What I felt was relief and pride. I followed through on a thought to execution.  It doesn’t get higher than that. I am one step closer to living the dream.

Stand Up is like New York. Sing it with me.  If you can make it there………

Beverley is a performer at heart who spent 25+ years as a Certified Financial Planner, helping people identify and achieve their financial goals. Now she feeds her artistic spirit through film and entertainment. Beverley is dedicated to helping others identify their hidden dreams and plan to live them NOW –  @Belivingthedream2020 Outside of her art Beverley’s adult Son and Daughter provides her with an enrichment of pure joy.

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