Two-Person Workshop

To the older people starting out in improv: You belong

To the older people starting out in improv: You belong. This is for you.

If you are an older person and you are just starting out doing improv, stand-up, storytelling or acting, I want to say to you are in the right place.

You did not wait too long.

You are not wasting your time.

You belong.

We need you.

I know that is not what you think.

I know that is not how society thinks.

But you are wrong.

Society is wrong.

I am right on this.

Trust me.

I am old.

I am so old I don’t need to lie to you.

We have been told improv, stand-up, storytelling, and acting is all a young person’s game.

That is bullshit.

Ok, maybe in Hollywood that might be true.

Are you going to be hired by Saturday Night Live? I don’t know.

Look, at Leslie Jones. She was hired by SNL when she was 47 years old.

So who knows.

Are you going get a Netflix special?

I don’t know this either. So please stop asking.

This is what I do know.

I know there is an audience for you.

I know that there is a place for you.

I know there people who want to work with you.

You have a lot to say because you have been around a long time.

You have seen things change.

You have changed.

And we want to hear those changes in your voice.

We want to hear from you in any form you want to express it.

In improv, in stand-up, storytelling, acting, interpretive dance or any other type of performance art that I am forgetting here. I am old.

We want to hear it! (Let’s move on, I am getting worked up.)

The reality is we need you more than ever.

The world is crazy, if you haven’t noticed.

So, we need your life experience, your success and your disappointments. We need your patience, your wisdom and maturity.

We need you in classes, and in shows, in open mics, in story nights, in plays and performances.

As a teacher of improv, I love it when I have a good balance of young and older students in my classes and workshops.

It always makes it a lot of fun.

The young people give the older people permission to play with abandon. The older people give the younger people permission to not care so much what people think.

They are grounded.

They have been through it. They are over it.

Those classes can be inspiring because we have so much life experience to choose from.

If you feel lost now, or feel like you haven’t found your people, know they are out there.

Yes, we have to look a little harder sometimes and ask around, but trust me, they’re out there.

And if, for whatever reason, you can’t find your people, then find some like-minded people to create something together, a show, an open mic night, a play.

Because you belong.

Looking to study with a veteran improv teacher? Sign up for Jimmy’s Two-Person Scene Tune-Up on Dec. 30, or for his Art of Slow Comedy Level 1 class starting Jan. 10!

14 replies
  1. Louis Hirsch
    Louis Hirsch says:

    I started when I was 55 and now I’m 66. Yes there will be some who will want to make you dad in every scene. But I have played small children to characters my own age. Have fun and it works. Most people will accept you for who you are.Fun is something you can have att any age.

  2. Michael G
    Michael G says:

    I am “old” also, at age 54 as of last month. I don’t feel old though.
    Been doing Improv the past few years with no prior experience, and let me tell you it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. Soooo lucky to now be in an Improv group with people both younger and older than myself. They all inspire me.
    If you are out there and thinking of taking the leap-DO IT!!
    You won’t regret it!
    Thank you Jimmy for the encouragement both in your classes and beyond- including this blog!!

  3. Kerstin Rao
    Kerstin Rao says:

    Thank you. I’ve loved my improv journey these last 9 years and can’t let go. I cherish the folks I meet in classes, workshops, and theater communities (UCB-NY, Magnet, Second City Chicago.) I’m on a team of midlife folks; we get each other’s references, plus we attract an audience that seeks us out. So we give as good as we get!

  4. Mary Rust
    Mary Rust says:

    I am in an improv group and I am having such a fun time. The people I am with are so amazing! Every one has their own style. I am 69 and loving every minute of it.

  5. Louie Pearlman
    Louie Pearlman says:

    Jimmy – this is great. I am a longtime improviser and work for an arts non-profit service organization that supports sequential arts classes for older adults. Improv is very popular with a lot of the populations that we serve, which is not a surprise! We’re called Lifetime Arts if you’re interested!

  6. Mike Harris
    Mike Harris says:

    Thanks, Jimmy. I had the good fortune to be one of John’s students last semester and am continually one of the older students in my classes. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you wrote.

  7. Shirley
    Shirley says:

    Hi Jimmy,
    Yes, I am in a group of older improvers and we are performing on stage and one of our members is 90 and he steals the show! So I sent this article to our director and he read it to our group. I did start out in my 20s in the 80’s at Second City…not so young anymore:)

    Thanks again,


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