This Week in Elder News: 16 February 2008
Elders and the Stimulus Package

The TGB Interview: Mrs. Hughes

Coy_carol_150Category_bug_interview A couple of months ago, I posted a video of standup comic Mrs. Hughes. Many readers loved it and "Mrs. Hughes" has since become the top search term that brings readers to Time Goes By. Both lilalia of Yum Yum Café and Cowtown Pattie of Texas Trifles suggested I do a TGB Interview with the comedian, and so today, here it is.

Mrs. Hughes was 40 when she began doing standup and 26 years later she’s still at it. Why we aren’t seeing more of this funny woman on television is beyond me, but she has taped an interview with Florence Henderson on Retirement Living TV and I’ll let you know when it will be broadcast.

She also appears frequently on cruise ships (“The Funniest Grandma on the Seven Seas”) and around the country. You can see her upcoming schedule here. And she has released two CDs. Information on how to order them is at the bottom of the interview.

Before we get started, here is Mrs. Hughes’ video for those who have not seen it or would like to see it again. She is an elder who does us proud, and will make you laugh out loud.

RONNI BENNETT: Comedians don't generally make their debut at age 40. How did that come about for you?
I was at Weight Watchers and the lecturer was a comic. I asked how to become one and she said write five funny minutes and go to open mike night at the Improv. I had five funny minutes already so she and I went. I went on at midnight and got a standing ovation. That was the start of it all.

RB: Did you work before you became a full-time comedian?
I used to lecture on antiques, do craft fairs but never a real job.

RB: When did you first discover that you're funny?
I don't know, I could always tell a good story. My Dad was funny and a great story teller.

RB:Is being a standup comedian fun?
Yes, you get to sleep all day, you're the center of attention, and make pots of money. The travel is the only not fun part. Sitting around airports can get very dull.

RB: What or who makes you laugh out loud?
My kids and grandkids make me laugh. Do you know who Craig Ferguson is? He is on after Letterman. He always makes me laugh. I love Ellen as well.

RB: Some of your humor is distinctly women-oriented - menopause, being a wife, etc. Do men and women react differently to your act?
Not really. Kids have even told me they love my act (PG).

RB: Aging is also a good part of your act, so let's talk about that a bit. What's the best part of getting older for you?
People help my put my bags in the overhead on the plane.

RB: And the worst?
How do these people know I need help?

RB:How is getting old different from what you imagined when you were young?
I don't know. My husband is older and I just thought he was cranky. Now I'm getting cranky. I am just waiting to pick a fight.

RB: What, if anything, do you miss about your youth?
I didn't know how pretty I was. I wish I had known so I could enjoy it instead of missing it. I look in the mirror and I am horrified at how old I look.

RB: What's the biggest surprise - positive or negative - you've encountered about getting older?
I couldn't wait to get boobs and now I just want to get them out of the way of my putt.

RB: Who are your role models for getting older?
Betty White. I adore her.

RB: How comfortable are you thinking of yourself as old?
I'm okay with it. I loved being 40. Fifty was hard, but I'm okay with 60.

RB: Age discrimination in the workplace is a big difficulty for many older workers. What affect, if any, does it have on a 66-year-old comedian?
This has been a problem since I started stand up. It was very difficult to get many people to realize that I was serious about being a comic. Even my husband thought it would end up in the attic with the Afghan I started knitting. I thought my fabulous career was waning and that's when I went on the ships. Now with the amazing success of my video I am in demand again. I guess I am an overnight sensation after 25 years.

RB: From what I've seen on your video, your personal life is a big inspiration for your comedy. How true is that?
Almost everything in my act is actually a part of my life. That is why it is so difficult for people who want to write for me. My act rings true and all of it has made me laugh.

RB: The subject of getting old has a long tradition in standup comedy. Jack Benny was 39 forever. Phyllis Diller has had a good run with it. So did George Burns. What did you learn from them?
All the comics you cited were inspirational. I admire and loved Henny Youngman, Myron Cohen, Totie fields. They were funny without the language that permeates everyones act today.

RB: What contemporary comedians do you admire?
Again Craig Ferguson, Ellen. I love the Blue Collar Guys. There are some not so famous comics that I adore - Tom McGillen, Woody Pittman, Lizette Mizelle, to mention a few.

RB: There's an old belief that clowns - comedians - are laughing on the outside, crying on the inside. Do you think that's true?
Yeah. There have been so many suicides and drug overdoses that it is impossible to overlook the underlying sadness. Nearly every comic I know has had major trauma in their lives.

RB: Why "Mrs. Hughes" and not your full name?
I started out as Mrs. John Hughes. For some reason, that confused people and they thought my husband was the comic. I dropped the John mainly because I hate to type and not using John made my name shorter. I think we are way too familiar with each other. There is no respect for teachers, seniors, any authority. I hate having to tell some pimply-faced pizza boy my first name. I don't want to be chummy with the teller at the bank. I prefer to do business with some one efficient rather than a pal.

RB: Have your kids inherited your humor?
Yes, my kids are the funniest people I know.

RB: What is one lesson you've learned about life you would like everyone to know?
You can do any thing you want. You just have to work at it. It may be harder to achieve things when you are older, but you can succeed.

Mrs. Hughes has released two CDs - one is PG and the other, she says, is R-lite. You may order one for $15 or both for $25 by sending a check or money order to:

Mrs. Hughes
P.O. Box 1507
Pismo Beach, CA 93448

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Susan Gulliford recalls a special Valentine's Day Dinner.]


Thanks so much for letting us see this clip again. I laughed just as much second time around. And the interview was interesting as well.

Wow! All that talent and she gets to live amidst beauty--Pismo Beach, indeed! (Of course, that is a giant leap that I make that she not only has a business concern in PB, but a home.)

I use the Mrs. Hughes video as a benchmark of my hearing progress with my implant. The first time I watched it I didn't hear a word. Now I only hear about a third of what she says, but I will keep trying because I think she is a joy to watch even if I never hear the complete joke. I am determined to hear all of her punch lines because the ones I do hear are so funny.

Aside to Mrs. Hughes. You are still pretty.

Mrs. Hughes, thanks for being so funny. What a great thing to do with 40, 50, and 60; make people laugh. I do hope that you will continue on for the next 25 years.

I had JUST finished having a squabble with the resident 14 year old when I watched that clip. It made me laugh my Mutley laugh. Thank God there are others going through the same thing.

Mrs. Hughes, you are inspirational!

Great interview, Ronni. One question - which cruise line does Mrs. Hughes work for (or on...)?

What a job, cruising nad laughing...

Another overnight success in the entertainment world! She's funny.

Pattie: I'm not sure it's one particular cruise line. Follow the the link in the intro above for upcoming schedule which lists which cruises.

"My act rings true," that's her secret, she's perceptive and very funny indeed. Thanks, Ronni.

please come to the Pacific NW soon!

I have a teenage son (16) and I related to everything you said...I kept thinking... I know I have said that!

Informative and interesting interview! She's great! I also really like Craig Ferguson.

I just saw this for the first time and loved the way you did the interview with whom I had a meeting said he saw my video and your interview and was very interested in doing a project with me. More if that happens. Here's the exciting news. I am taping the LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON on March 27
I don't know when it will air.
Thanks to your readers for their nice comments.
Carol Hughes

Late to comment, but I am just seeing this now and gasping for air, eyes streaming. Carol, you are so right when you say your act rings true. I only hope to see the whole thing one day live and in person. Much luck with the CF show.

I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. I sent the video to lots of friends and told them all to be sure to wear "DEPENDS"!!!! Please, please send mre of the fabulous Mrs. Hughes.

Mrs. Hughes is extraordinary. But as a feminist I do not, myself, use Mrs. since it means "wife of" and I do not want to be designated as wife of anyone. I am first a person in my own right. I realize the title Mrs. as well so it's OK.

I admire her so much because I have been appearing on the local Open Mike comedy stage every six months to let off steam after caring for my husband full time. My husband and I usually generate lots of material in a six months period.

But I have a short term memory problem so have to cheat by bringing notes to the stage. I slip them into my little mini book I wrote about Grandma's Sex Secrets. Just showing the cover of this book gets a laugh. No one expects grandmas to talk about sex in their lives--or lack of it. But I do.

I recently produced a DVD about my Caregiving Journey with my husband over an almost three years period. I thought it was time that a caregiver told all, as it were. If our government doesn't care enough to help caregivers and the one being cared for then I felt it was time people understood what a couple in our situation go through.

Keep on, keeping on Mrs. Hughes.
You are special. You have voiced what all us oldies go through and made it tolerable. When I look at the poster sized photo of my husband and me on our wedding day which we had on an easel at both our 50th and 60th wedding anniversary celebrations I still feel young and vigorous. Now I wish my body would realize it too.

This month we will celebrate our 62nd wedding anniversary and we are surviving, cherishing each day and
never forgetting to kiss and say we love each other each night before going to sleep.
What more can one ask?

Revision of my previous comment. For some reason it didn't register my correction earlier. I said that
Mrs. Hughes spoofs being a Mrs. so it is OK for her to be Mrs.

This is the first that I have seen of "Mrs. Hughes" but sure won't be the last. I forwarded this little snippet in email to a few friends in my age group and resulted in the same side splitting laughter. I am looking forward to seeing more of this fabulous stand up comic.

Married - no
Children - no
Hot Flashes - yes
Laughed harder than I have in years - yes
Thank you Carol!

About once a month, I watch the above clip of Carol Hughes. I saved it in my "favorites". Humor gets me thru life and Mrs. Hughes is some of the best humor I've ever heard. Thank you Mrs.Hughes.

Mrs. Hughes is so funny and I laugh so hard. I can really relate to her on what she says. I wish I could be a stand up comedian to make people laugh. Would love to meet her inperson some day! Joyce

A friend of mine sent me the clip from her Ice House act via e-mail and I got a really good laugh out of her act. She's hysterically funny, very true to life, and I have no idea why we are not seeing more of her. Love her act and will be sure to look for more of her. I hope to get the Ice House CD for a friend of mine who has also "been married too long".
The interview posted here was great, thanks.

Love the lady! We need to see more of her - just one clip doesn't cut it. Bring on more please.

As the oldest standup comic in the Seattle area I really appreciate Mrs. Hughes.
The timing and preparation that it takes to become a comic is tremendous.
I am still appearing on stage at age 91 and now that I am dating I have a whole new repertoire of laugh lines.

The comments to this entry are closed.