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updated: 7/19/2013 7:53 AM

'Funny Old Broads': Comedy for the middle-aged crowd

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  • Caryn Bark, left, Robin Riebman, Pam Peterson and Jan Slavin talk about their comedy show "Funny Old Broads."

       Caryn Bark, left, Robin Riebman, Pam Peterson and Jan Slavin talk about their comedy show "Funny Old Broads."
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

Four middle-aged women are sitting on a couch in Prospect Heights.

That might sound like the opening line of a joke. It's not. But it's definitely something funny.

The four women have gathered to talk about their new musical comedy show, "Funny Old Broads," a compilation of clean-humored comedy acts focused on middle-age issues, suburban family life and growing up in the 1960s.

The "Broads" range in age from 57 to "rumor has it that one of us will be on Medicare next year."

They are: veteran stage and TV comedian Caryn Bark, from the hit show "Diary of a Skokie Girl"; the new-to-the-scene "sit-down comedian" Robin Riebman of Prospect Heights; acclaimed cabaret performer Pam Peterson, who grew up in LaGrange; and singer Jan Slavin, an Evanston and Skokie native.

Peterson and Slavin have performed together all over the country as the musical parody duo "The Boomer Babes." One of their parody songs, "Memory," went viral, and currently has nearly 6.5 million hits on YouTube.

While these women are each successful in their own right, they decided to bring their acts together and create something unique and entertaining.

"People want to see comedy about people their own age," said Bark, who initiated the idea. "They don't want to go to a club with a two-drink minimum. If they have to have the two-drink minimum, they'll be asleep."

Riebman said the show is not only funny, but "HBT."

"That means 'Horizontal (asleep) By Ten,'" she said, noting that middle-aged audiences don't like to stay out late.

All of the "Broads," except Peterson, are Jewish, but they said their humor -- just as with TV shows "Seinfeld" or "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- is universal because it's on subjects people in their 50s and 60s can relate to: families, kids, health issues and life in the suburbs.

Each woman comes from a slightly different place in life: One is an empty nester, one's a divorcee, one is a mom with young children and one is a grandmother.

"We laugh at all the different things we have dealt with at different points of life," said Peterson, who calls herself the group's lone "shiksa" (non-Jew). She met Slavin at a Passover Seder she attended with her then-boyfriend.

"It was b'shert," Peterson said, using the Yiddish word for "meant to be."

"Funny Old Broads" will feature each comedian doing their own act, including storytelling and songs, as well as a few all-cast numbers.

Keeping the show's language and subject matter clean requires them to be more clever and creative, Bark says. That's not a problem for these personable ladies, who -- while discussing the show at Riebman's house -- had so many ideas they were all talking over each other.

With so much material, they expect to change the show each week.

"We hope (by performing together), we will take it to another level," Bark said.

"The good news is, we'll never outgrow our name, 'Funny Old Broads,'" Riebman said. "We call it 'pee-in-your-pants comedy,' so dress accordingly."

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