Brighton Fringe 2016
“Lynn Ruth Miller is the poster girl for growing old. She’s 82-years-old and the only thing that frightens her is her own reflection. She’s feisty though and can tell some tales about dating octogenarians, what it’s like being the oldest stand up in the business (RIP Joan Rivers) and why she got her nipple pierced. Young people of the world, come and see your future.”
Lynn Ruth Miller sits confidentially chatting to the audience in an intimate venue. She invites us to sit close by, reassuring us: ‘I talk to you and I don’t make fun of you.’ She greets us as we arrive like a hostess at a party, flattering one of the few older ‘guests’ with ‘She’s getting prettier every day’. Most of the audience, are young, and at least half of them men.
We only know the show has officially started when the stage lights come on and Lynn gets to her feet. The house lights are left on for the duration of the show, lighting up a full house of beaming faces whose attentive smiles never waver for a minute.
And so she begins, wearing a white, flowing outfit reminiscent of a wedding gown. It is just one of the ways this octogenarian uses subversion and contradiction: looking sweet, young and innocent whilst delivering a set containing wicked words of advice that one would be better off not following; talking of her clumsiness whilst performing a perfectly crafted set; or mentioning the memory problems that come with age whilst fluently delivering a perfectly-paced script.
Even without the content, all this is already hugely impressive. But the jokes, that smack of truth, are brilliant. Her set covers everything from dating and marriage to mammograms, drawing mostly on her own life experiences. But she wasn’t short on harsh social commentary either.
On the subject of mental health, she tells us that no one went to a psychiatrist when she was young, or took pills. And just as we crane our necks to hear her pearls of wisdom from the past, she casually remarks: ‘We shot ourselves’. Though diminutive in stature, this is no ‘little old lady’, but a tiger clawing, prancing, pointing, and filling out her stories with elegant mimes.
The only prop she used was a small, wooden sign with CHEER written on one side, and LAUGH on the other. ‘You never needed to hold up the LAUGH side,’ I commented, as she left at 11pm to get to her next gig. The secret to her stamina? Undoubtedly, it’s her attitude to anything that might get in her way. As she says: ‘To hell with it!’