I wrote this about Lynn Ruth Miller last year.
And, although she died a month ago, I cannot bring myself to put any of it into the past tense.
Lynn Ruth was a joy to be around, in every way. A little bundle of positive energy made up of generosity, talent, passion, outrage, intelligence, pride and funny. So so much funny. She found the funny in everything.
I remember the first time I saw her, in a bar basement in Edinburgh, performing at full throttle LRM to a half dozen bemused young people and enticing them all into the palm of her wrinkly hand. . I remember the last time I saw her, ripping into ageism the onlty ism that seemingly fails to worry the woke.
I loved Lynn Ruth Miller and I miss her every day
So I will not be putting this into the past tense. Lynn Ruth just doesn’t fit there
The word unique is bandied around as if it were merely a comparative version of ‘unusual’. This catastrophically devalues the word. Only one. In the known universe. One of its kind. That is unique. And if you ever get to find it, you will know it. And you must appreciate it. So, thank you, America, for Lynn Ruth Miller. Whatever ghastlinesses you have hurled at the world, you gave us this glorious, unforgettable, 86 year old comedy performing phenomenon. Although frequently billed simply as a stand up comic (the oldest there is), the woman is an author, a journalist, a teacher, an artist, an activist and someone who has seen feminism through more changes than Kylie in concert. All of that is here, distilled into the heady spirit of her shows. Watching her you feel the riches of her years, the strength she has gathered through experience, the power of the truths she has learned and ( which is one of the most extraordinary things about the women) is still learning. And she makes all of that, as she would say “Hilaaaiiirious”.
The hours you spend with her are packed with big laughs, some of the biggest extracted from within the wrinkles and under the saggy bits we get to explore with as we age. Lynn Ruth Miller performs a miracle for our times : she makes you feel great about being old, if you already are, and to look forward to it, if you are not.
Miller has done more to turn burlesque into the ultimate platform for the truly empowered woman than anyone since the invention of the self adhesive pastie. We get raunch and flashes of flesh in her shows and with them she remixes the chemical cocktail released when human eye meets live, bare, old female flesh. This is Well Aged Feminism, Lynn Ruth Miller stylee, and it has to be listened to. This comedy goes for the jugular (and other parts vital) of that last of acceptable isms. Ageism. We older women need her. She is our voice. She is our little old Boudicca. You younger women need her, she is your Obi Wan Kanobi. She is taking comedy and burlesque to fresh battlefields and we should follow her. Her writing skills give her powerful weapons. Over her years in the UK, she has grown her her fanbase and reputation from a cellar under a pub to national award winning shows and, more recently, and finally, as it happened, to television. Her latest book of memoirs is an absolute joy and inspiration, but it is watching her live that allows an audience to bask in the warmth and risque-ness, the fun and the passion of her performances. She is, dare I say, well on the way to being A National Treasure.
Ask anyone, across the country. Ask other performers, amongst whom she is revered. Ask me … I’m a critic.
Read more about Lynn Ruth Miller and her amazing career here.
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