by Francine Wolf
The Rogue Festival will be here in a month! This is the second of several Rogue Performer Preview articles to go up in KRL. We also have a Rogue Festival event page with many of their press releases, and an article about this year’s Muse going up next week.
I am a performer in my third act. The third act is defined as being the last three decades of one’s life. I just turned 70 and my dad is 98. For the first time ever, I’ve developed a solo improv show and I’m taking it from my home in Tampa Bay, Florida, to fringe festivals around the country. I will be performing Half-Baked Boomer at the Rogue Festival for four shows in March. In May of last year, I brought my show to the Tampa International Fringe Festival. It was an amazing and thrilling experience, especially getting positive feedback from attendees from around the world. Laughter is a universal language and when you make people laugh, it’s the best feeling in the world. Half-Baked Boomer isn’t just comedy…it’s my truth, not always funny, but hopefully entertaining.
One idea that Jane Fonda shared in her 2011 TED Talk, was the belief that our third act was an opportunity to “finish up the task of finishing ourselves.” I try to forget the ailments I have; if you’ve watched Grace and Frankie, you know that they are unavoidable, and so I have to finish myself to the best of my ability. I look forward to the time I’m 80, and my show will have morphed into something else, but my two adult children will still cringe with embarrassment when they see me perform.
So, you may ask, why did I decide to develop a solo show at this point in my life and cavort around on stage? My reason was this: I needed a scary new challenge and I wanted to do something to bring joy to myself, to others, and to supplement my Social Security. Working with my girlfriend as her test subject (she was getting her “Authentic Happiness” coaching certification), I came up with my mantra: I am ZaZu, undulating through life with pizzazz, creating joy. My production company is named ZaZu Productions. Yes, when I watched TV in the fifties, I fell in love with the quirky actress ZaZu Pitts’ name, and knew I wanted to develop a character named that one day. I called my production company that instead. I’ve produced an original play at the largest venue in Tampa, attended red carpet events as the interactive act-alike characters Fern Livers (Joan Rivers), Joan Crawford, or Queen Elizabeth II, conduct improv workshops, and sing with my musical duo, ZaZu’s Revue, in assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care communities. Real joy!
My dad always introduces me as, “My starving actor daughter.” I took my first acting class at age 40, first improv class at age 45, then did corporate improv and was a member of “Playback Columbus,” a form of improv performed around the world, stemming from psychodrama. When I moved to Florida in 2000, I couldn’t find a Playback group, so I started a short-form improv group called “BAIT” or Bay Area Improv Theatre, a group like the Whose Line is it Anyway TV show. I began studying long-form improv scenes and joined “Stuff Happens Improv Theatre, or “SHIT.” This group has been flushed.
I still work as a commercial actor and model, perform on stage in plays and dinner theatre, and scour estate sales to sell vintage clothes and tchochkes in my eBay store, Chic and Vintage Designs—a shameless plug. I really hope to see you at my show at the Rogue Festival. It’s only one act! Here is the link for tickets: roguefestival.ticketleap.com/halfbakedboomer.