Wednesday, February 28, 2024

90 years old, doing stand-up comedy

By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor

Marlene Osier, beside her brother Nick Buttino. Chronicle photo/Mark Frost

It’s not every day a 90-year-old woman does stand-up comedy to a live audience.

I went to the Strand Theater in Hudson Falls to see Marlene Osier take on that challenge on Friday, April 14.

Wow, she “killed,” as comedians like to say. She was funny. She didn’t just tell jokes. She presence. Her act held together.

Periodically she’d rummage around in her bag for a prop. One time when she lifted her head, it hit the mike and caused a rumble. Marlene didn’t miss a beat.

“I didn’t know a hat would make that much noise,” she said, not a joke, just the train rolling right along.

Marlene was dressed outlandishly as her character “Gert Newton, Fashion & Beauty Consultant.”

“I started my career as a ballet dancer,” she told us. It didn’t go well. In Swan Lake, she said, they cast her as a lifeguard. “Instead of a tutu, they made me wear a three-three. One night I badly hurt the groin muscle — and it wasn’t even mine.”

She said she met her beloved husband at an Eljer toilet bowl convention. “Every time I saw Murray I got so flushed.”

On their first date, “I had to slap his face five times. He wasn’t being fresh. I thought he was dead.”

Gert said her Aunt Maude met her guy at a travel agency. “She went looking for a vacation and he was a last resort.”

Gert admires Maude. “She’s 96 and still doesn’t use glasses. Drinks right out the bottle.”

Gert told us that Maude is “a housekeeper. She’s been married four times and four times she’s kept the house.”

Meanwhile, “Cousin Jake married an Amish girl. Within two weeks he was driving her buggy.”

Gert said her cousin Flo at 80 started walking five miles a day. “She’s 83 now. We don’t know where the heck she is.”

Gert knew when it was time to make her exit. She said was wearing an 18-hour bra. “It’s only got about 15 minutes left.”

The Strand was packed, rooting for her. “Love seeing all you people here,” she said.

I’m sure many were friends and relatives, but I asked the man next to me in the balcony, “Do you know her?”

He said, “No. I saw it was happening so I came to check it out.”

Marlene was introduced by her brother Nick Buttino, the retired SUNY Adirondack business professor who handles the Strand’s finances. He told us what he said was the first joke he’s ever told on stage. “Two nuts were walking down the street. One was a salted.”

Before the comedy, the evening was fleshed out with screening of most of a Laurel & Hardy silent film, accompanied by the inimitable Jonathan Newell, the Strand’s executive director and driving force.

After the show, Gert/Marlene made her way to the crowded lobby where refreshments were served and the place was abuzz due to this 90-year-old.

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