WBEZ | Jeremy Owens http://www.wbez.org/tags/jeremy-owens Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Phyllis Diller: 'You CAN teach an old dog new tricks' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/phyllis-diller-you-can-teach-old-dog-new-tricks-102048 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2329493564_e8b5e17d64_z.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right; " title="Phyllis Diller at the Flamingo in 1964. (Flickr/Dan Perry)" />Last week, comedian Phyllis Diller <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/arts/television/phyllis-diller-sassy-comedian-dies-at-95.html?pagewanted=all">died at the age of 95</a>. But &quot;[w]hat&#39;s the lesson&nbsp;of her life, for us?&quot; asks comedian Jeremy Owens. &quot;Phyllis Diller proves, at least for me, that you&nbsp;<em>can&nbsp;</em>teach an old dog new tricks. You can start a stand-up career when you&rsquo;re almost 40; you get to have your second act. If you&rsquo;re lucky and live to be 95 you might even get a third, fourth or fifth. So I ask you, what is it you really want to do? Why don&rsquo;t you go do it.&quot; Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><p><em>&ldquo;Women want men, careers, money, children, friends, luxury, comfort, independence, freedom, respect, love, and a three-dollar pantyhose that won&#39;t run,&rdquo; at least according to Phyllis Diller. Long before Joan Rivers asked if we could talk and Chelsea Handler sexed it up like a frat boy, there was Phyllis. She created the mold for self-deprecating female comics and did it in an age where women were to be seen and not heard. She was the first woman to tell jokes like a man, did so to great acclaim and all while supporting her family.</em></p><p><em>Born Phyllis Driver on July 17, 1917 in Lima, Ohio, she became interested in classical music, writing and theatre at an early age.&nbsp; She briefly attended the Sherwood Conservatory of Music (aka Columbia College) in Chicago before transferring to Bluffton College. Her plans were to become a music teacher. Instead, she married Sherwood Diller and started a family.</em></p><p><em>She first found work writing a shopping column for a newspaper, then advertising copy. She moved on to writing and promotional jobs at radio stations, anything to make up for her husband&rsquo;s inability to hold down a job. &ldquo;I wanted him to get any job. He couldn&rsquo;t sell Windex to a Peeping Tom.&rdquo; Her knack for making people laugh at church, PTA and club functions prompted Diller, with her husband&rsquo;s nudging, to set her sights on a comedy career at the ripe old age of 37.</em></p><p><em>In an NPR interview to promote her autobiography, </em>Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse, <em>Phyllis recounted her decision to become a comic. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know how to start. I thought you have a show and you find out where to do it. I called the Red Cross and said, &lsquo;I have a show. Where do you want it?&rsquo; They said, &lsquo;The Presidio.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s an Army hospital. My first show was in a room with four beds. We did our dumb little show in that room. Three of the guys threw up and the other one re-enlisted. I&rsquo;ll never forget it. I sweat blood.&rdquo;</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 p.m., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 30 Aug 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/phyllis-diller-you-can-teach-old-dog-new-tricks-102048