Seattle’s 95-year-old stand-up comedian ain’t no joke

Jan 5, 2016, 10:29 AM
Georgie Kunkel began doing stand-up comedy in her 80s, and at 95 she gets on stage once a month to tell funny stories taken from her life.

On a cold and rainy Seattle Tuesday night, a small crowd gathers in the cozy underground bowels of The Rendezvous to watch Comedy Womb, a weekly stand-up comedy show (recently renamed Comedy Nest). On the bill this night, West Seattle’s Georgie Kunkel, most likely the oldest standup comedian in town.

“Howdy, everybody!” Georgie says, opening her set. “I’m so glad to be here. I’d be glad to be anywhere at age 95!”

Georgie is 95 years old, and she got into comedy a bit later than most.

“I was in my 80s,” she explains.

She started performing after her husband got sick.

“My husband was having quite a downturn in his health. I don’t know, I didn’t really consciously go on the comedy stage to to cheer myself up, but I did. He would wave to me goodbye and say, ‘Knock em dead!'”

Now Georgie performs stand-up about once a month.

“I don’t have my monthly cycles anymore, gotta come down here once a month,” she laughs.

She always takes the mini-book she wrote, My Sex Secrets by Grandma, on stage.

“Young women worry about getting pregnant and you young men worry about getting enough sex,” Georgie says, into the microphone, on stage. “I don’t have any sex worries. My guy takes Viagra and I can’t get pregnant, yippee!”

A former teacher, Georgie says she always wanted to perform and she doesn’t get nervous.

“I never did care what anyone thought, too much. I was in the women’s movement and I gave talks about things that people didn’t want to hear. I was a trailblazer all my life. I talked about women getting out and being independent and not just listening to their husbands all the time. It was a man’s world.”

Danielle KL Gregoire founded Comedy Womb, with the idea of encouraging more women to get on stage. She says Georgie’s narrative, storytelling style makes her a crowd favorite.

“Oh, they love her so much,” Danielle says, as Georgie listens in, giggling. “I have had so many people inspired by her. I think when someone sees an older women get on stage, they have this tendency to like, ‘Oh, isn’t that cute?’ And Georgie is not cute, Georgie is a fiery force of nature. Automatically you’re thinking, I want to be like that when I’m 95.”

I asked Georgie if she does comedy to stay young.

“Well, not young so much as involved. I want to stay involved. I go to church and I had been singing in the choir, I go to my political women’s meetings every month. I’m going! I write a column every week for The Westside Weekly.”

She also visits a local senior center, even though she’s older than almost everyone there, and encourages the people there to tell and write down their own stories.

“I find that it’s necessary to keep going and to prove that your life isn’t over until it’s over!”

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Seattle’s 95-year-old stand-up comedian ain’t no joke