Another Sign of Aging

When The Curmudgeon was growing up, if there was a variety show on television you could count on one of the major comedians of the day being on it – people like George Burns, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Phyllis Diller, folks like that.

And to the Curmudgeon these comedians had one thing in common:  they were all old guys.

How old?  The Curmudgeon decided to figure out how old they were by using as a base year 1972, when he turned 15.

So in 1972, George Burns was 76, Jack Benny was 78, Bob Hope was 69, Jimmy Durante was 79, Milton Berle was 64, Henny Youngman was 66, and Phyllis Diller was the kid of the group at only 55.

So what got The Curmudgeon to thinking about this?

Billy Crystal recently performed in Philadelphia and a newspaper article about his show noted that Crystal is 69 years old.

You could’ve knocked The Curmudgeon off his chair with a feather duster.

Little Billy Crystal, whom he remembers from a 1970s performance on Saturday Night Live and his Muhammad Ali impression and as one of the first gay characters on television on the series Soap, is 69-freaking-years old.

69!

Which left The Curmudgeon feeling pretty old.

But it gets worse, because while Google is a wonderful tool when there’s something you want to know, it also can be a terrible weapon when you’re pursuing something that might be construed as self-destructive.

Like the ages of the next generation of major comedians.

Steve Martin is 71.

Bill Murray is 66.

The Smothers Brothers are 77 (Dick) and 80 (Tom).

Lily Tomlin is 77.

Carl Reiner is 95.  Mel Brooks is 88, which means he’s well on his way to becoming that 2000 Year Old Man.   Even Jerry Seinfeld, whom The Curmudgeon wouldn’t go see if you gave him free tickets, is 63, and his soulmate in yutzdom, Larry David, is 69.

If he was still alive Robin Williams would be 66 and George Carlin, gone now for nine years, would have been 80; Richard Pryor, gone now for a dozen years, would have been 77; and Joan Rivers would have been 84.

Which means the funny people who replaced the old guys of comedy of The Curmudgeon’s youth are now themselves the old guys of comedy.

Which makes them peers of those of us who used to look at the leading lights of comedy and consider them old guys.

Which is a little depressing.

As is looking at a piece The Curmudgeon wrote about older rock’n’roll performers and seeing what has happened to an alarming number of them in the five years since that piece appeared in this space.

Which makes it even more depressing.

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