Lynn Ruth Miller recently died. She was a friend. She was fun and old and a woman. I think those are the important things she’d like you to know.
I found out about her passing last night and I thought, “Here we go. Here comes the sadness…” but it didn’t come. I have good feelings. She was inspirational and she was on the same mission as me.
Lynn started doing standup at age 70, about 17 years ago. I met her about 17 years ago. She already had a standup set, was already funny, had a personality, and was already doing shows. Her comedy set was still not super. It was fun to watch her, but not packed with laughs. Well, she worked on that. It’s pretty cool that I got to see her develop — from working in standup, in theater, creating her own one-woman show. Then, she performed in Scot Nery’s Boobietrap last year and killed it. She really locked in to her persona, perspective, what the audience wanted from her, and her jokes were all so precise. She came to kill.
Off stage, Lynn was the way you’d expect except probably nicer. She was very sweet whereas on stage, she had much more attitude. The attitude was still there in real life. She was still dirty minded and still liked to get a rise out of people, but she was genuinely concerned with connecting with people that she liked. I was one of those people. We were mutual fans.
Although she was much older than me, I was more established as a performer when we met, so she would ask me for advice and feedback and we would talk shop.
Her position on the industry (although she obviously cared a lot about it) was “fuck ’em I’m almost dead.” It lead to a very playful pursuit of comedy but she never gave the finger to the medium. She was respectful of entertainers and played by the rules of comedy to make her act tight and to give the audience what they needed. I hadn’t seen that in many people and it was really motivating to me.
I can tend to toggle between rebellion and buckled down. Lynn taught me about creativity with lightness and ease. That’s why I have a positive feeling about her death. I hope that I bring the same legacy. Ease, creativity, and continuous progress. Can you imagine? Starting standup at 70! ugh! amazing!