Older Women & Friends

No Joke: Getting Older Can Be A Hoot with comedian, Diana Wilde

January 04, 2024 Jane Leder Episode 32
Older Women & Friends
No Joke: Getting Older Can Be A Hoot with comedian, Diana Wilde
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers


      Diana was that bookish girl who sat in the front of the classroom and always had her homework done. A self-described latch-key kid with a lot of time on her hands, she loved to record bits of Disney and other cartoons in many different voices and then sit back and listen to herself. It’s no surprise that years later, she landed a job as an on-air music talent, and for fifteen years, she hosted radio programs like “Light Rock Love Songs. and "Night Magic with Diana Wilde." She adored the job but dealt with sexism and ageism at every turn. “Isn’t it funny how all the rules and regulations that are supposed to protect us are explained away, brushed aside?” she says. These days, Diana, as the “irreverent elder goddess,” hosts the hilarious podcast, “Granny Has A Podcast,” which is unlike any other podcast out there. When I first heard it, I wanted to dump mine and start all over again. Treat yourself to my conversation with Diana and then enjoy her unique brand of humor a la Irma Bombeck. We all need a good laugh!

 

Diana’s Profile

linkedin.com/in/dianawilde
Websites

backstage.com/u/di

         www.dianawildevoiceover.com

Speaker 1:

Do you feel overlooked and invisible because you're an older woman? Have you had those age jump days when you look in the mirror and swear that you're looking at your mother? Do you feel the clock ticking and wonder whether you have enough time to check off all the items on your bucket list? Hello, I'm Jane Leder and I'm the host of Older Women and Friends, a podcast about and four older women that kick stereotypes to the curb. We older women are the keepers of stories, and guests on Older Women and Friends share their stories about love, loss, dreams, friendships. But let's not kid ourselves Aging can be a messy, complex affair. But older women have been around the block a few times and learned a thing or two, and this podcast celebrates their lessons. So put in your earbuds and join me on Older Women and Friends. Happy New Year and welcome to season two of Older Women and Friends. I'm delighted to have you here. When I began this podcast over a year ago, I wanted to encourage the start of a community of older women and younger friends who could share what was on their minds and what was on mine. But every once in a while, I think things got a bit too serious. We all need to laugh at ourselves and all those crazy silly nuts stuff that we lug around at this stage of our lives, and that's why my first guest of 2024 is a comedian who describes herself as an irreverent elder goddess who, like a fine French wine or an expensive bit of cheese, is aged to perfection. Now, that's my kind of humor. Diana Wilde is a woman with a bundle of talent whose podcast Granny has a Podcast is a hoot. So, without further ado, let's welcome all the way from the suburbs Diana Wilde. Oh my gosh, that's a great intro.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, Jane. Hear your official snaps and props for the new year Excellent, excellent. I can't believe I'm kicking off 2024. How may I make your day my darling?

Speaker 1:

Well, you can tell us a little about you, and I think that when we talked initially, you said something like I'm just not like the other kids at school, so can you elaborate a little bit? I've got some ideas in my head, but I'd rather hear from you.

Speaker 2:

I was always that annoying bookish girl who sat up front and had all the homework done and that gave me free time to hang out with bad influences and listen to comedy records by the Smothers Brothers and the Fire Sign Theater and that sort of thing Also. I was quite a bit on my own as a child. They say the Lechke kids started in the 80s and 90s, and no, no, no, no, we started in the 60s. So oftentimes I was playing alone by myself and what I got for Christmas one year was one of those cute little tape recorders that were so fun and so brand new so I would read like Disney cartoons, comic books to myself in different voices on the tape recorder. Then I'd rewind it and sit in my chair and pretend to be in the 1930s listening to radio drama. So I mean, that ain't like the other kids at school, honey.

Speaker 1:

And what did they think of you? Did you have friends? I mean, were you tuned in at all to peer pressure or what anybody else was thinking or feeling?

Speaker 2:

That's a fascinating question. I always found myself relating more to kids who were older than me and better read than my peers. This may illuminate a lot. We were just in Laguna Beach last which is one of the nicest sentences a person ever gets to say in their lifetime and my husband wanted to show me this little restaurant he'd found. Well, I had been telling him for years about this eventful day that I was pretty sure took place back in Laguna Beach when I was around nine or ten in the sixties. And we get to the special restaurant my husband has discovered and is built on the site of the old pottery shack store that this whole story centered around. Now, the significance of this story answers your question because, once again, in what we would today called criminal neglect of a child, my mom loved to shop at the old pottery shack at the time it was called the Pottery Barn and her favorite way to take care of me was to say go play in traffic and then Don't get hit by a car, or at least not seriously. Right, and you know if our younger friends are joining us. You got to understand. A ten-year-old kid walking around unsupervised in 1968 was as normal as blue skies and a Beatles record on the radio. Grandma, what's a record? What's a radio? Anyway, I go wandering off down the beach and I meet a bald-headed boy who's dressed all in orange robes and sells me a piece of carrot cake for a quarter and tells me about Krishna. And I wander back up the beach onto the street and I wander into some really interesting shops with some really interesting smells, and then I found the bookstore. And the bookstore had a science fiction and the science fiction section had fresh copies of Fahrenheit 451 and Stranger in a Strange Land and Arthur C Clarke's A Fall of Moondust. And at age ten that bookstore blew my mind behind my mom's back and I was never quite the same again.

Speaker 1:

Never quite the same, wow it reads above grade level Were you, was your path to being a comedian and a funny person straight, or did you make some stops along the way?

Speaker 2:

I would say zigzag with stops. Not everybody has a clear path and, like many of the vibrant, gorgeous women like ourselves who are alive and kicking today, I've had time to take a lot of paths. So the first thing I did was I wanted a lot of parental approval, and I didn't understand it because I'd never gotten into any therapy yet, friend. So the first thing I did was I married the first boy that asked me at age twenty and became a bank teller and wondered why I put on a lot of weight and was miserable and the marriage broke up. Oh no, what a surprise. This does not, being myself in any way whatsoever, contribute to it.

Speaker 1:

I don't know, maybe.

Speaker 2:

Right, yeah, you read me right, girl. So first marriage breaks up, I get into therapy. I realize, oh, I could actually do things I'm interested in with my life. That would work. So I bounced around theater and stand up comedy and radio for many years. I lived in New York in the Ed Koch 80s and did not quite get the financial foothold that eludes a lot of young artists AT THE LIST. I also did Renaissance festivals for about five seasons. I traveled on the circuit and did shows from February to November as various kinds of lane wench. At one point I was selling desserts, at another point I was selling a little dead mouse puppets. They weren't made from real dead mice but the comedy was so Until I bounced around and landed on the radio in 1993 and it was like this is the best thing yet. So I stayed in radio for about 15 years, which any veteran of broadcasting will tell you means more bouncing around. So I've got. I have the pleasure of living in a number of places and meeting a lot of different kinds of people and doing all kinds of crazy gigs.

Speaker 1:

Well, talking about crazy gigs, was the radio gig crazy? Are we talking reading the news or introducing the new songs that have just come out.

Speaker 2:

Great question, thank you. I worked primarily as an on-air talent in music formats, so some of those formats included the Light Rock Love Songs of the 90s. so you'd hear like Chardet and Whitney Stone and all that evening stuff, and I had a love song dedication show, as did many local hosts in the late 90s, and then one year Delilah went syndicated and a lot of us lost our nighttime jobs. But that was one of my favorite ones because it was a call-in show and I did things like announce to someone's husband that they were expecting, or propose to someone for someone, while they were writing in their car listening to my show. So, that was just heartwarming. It was called Night Magic with Diana Wilde and it was just such a lovely mission because they told me it's all about love song. Well, being a child of our generation, Jane, I expanded that a little bit. I included Louis Armstrong's what a Wonderful World as a love song, you know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, what a Wonderful World.

Speaker 2:

yes, he expanded the idea of love song, played Stevie Winwood's Higher Love as a love song and the thing that was fun about that show and really about every radio show that I had was technically I was breaking and bending a lot of rules. And when the boys did that on their shows, they got praise and a raise. And when I did that on my show, I got higher ratings but I was chastised. The sexism hilarious, but I got huge ratings. So what do you go?

Speaker 1:

do? Yeah, exactly, and they couldn't fire you. So I was going to ask you about the sexism and, eventually, the ageism, and you've already answered part of the question. Can you talk a little bit about what these guys did or said, or how they made your life uncomfortable, if not miserable?

Speaker 2:

Please, how many episodes do you want me on? I've got six months worth right here. Perfect example, and our girlfriends will so relate to it. Now, like many of our generation, we were still gorgeous well into middle age. I haven't to think we're still gorgeous now, but you know, I have had my eyes examined lately and I stand by what I say. So let's face it, I was hot in my early 40s there, I've said it, lots of chicks are and we had a promotional going on at our FM rock and roll station called 963 the Buzzard and it was a very fun format. We played a lot of Van. Halen AC DC really hard driving rock and I had a fairly raunchy delivery. It was very funny stuff. I'm standing around having a talk with my program director in the morning man and we're talking about the upcoming promotional with so and so motorcycle dealers. So to open the event, sam the morning man, who was also about 41, but a fella was going to ride the big Harley in with a model on the back of the motorcycle waving and I was 41. And I said to my program director that will be awesome. When do I get to ride a motorcycle? And he said 35 years ago.

Speaker 1:

Oh, are you kidding?

Speaker 2:

As dogs are. My witness 41 minus 35 is seven. I have a list of things that men can kiss bite.

Speaker 1:

So that's just a horrific example and I'm assuming that you were pretty much my recollection of radio at that time as a bunch of men. I don't remember hearing any women DJs at all.

Speaker 2:

No, it was really crazy. I got my first job right out of broadcasting school in 93 and I was already an adult in 93, you know, I was born in 58. I was grown up, I'd been around and I was absolutely infantilized from the beginning by management and I saw what the other women went through and they were likewise infantilized and played into it, totally played into it. And my first night at my new station, my first job ever, and one of my instructors, who was now going to be a colleague, was showing me around the station. Here's the production room, here's the da-da-da-da-da. And we walk into the broadcast studio after the on-air light goes off to introduce me to the man who was doing that particular air shift and, as dogs are my witness, the guy reaches out and grabs my boobs and does honka-honka right, just grabs and cops a feel. That's how he says hello to his new colleague and that was, you know, 1993. This was 30 years ago when the Me Too movement came around. I just raised both hands and laughed and said oh girls, legre, I'm gonna tell you stories.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and things need to change. Oh honey, we've been at it. Keep it up, Bring the fight forward. Yes, Isn't it funny how often the rules and regulations we expect to protect us are so easily explained away or brushed aside, or I'm sorry it still goes on. Boys will be boys.

Speaker 1:

You know it still goes on After the radio. I'm assuming that at that juncture you decided that you wanted to go into stand up.

Speaker 2:

That that's interesting. I wasn't actually working in stand up at the time. What happened was I used to joke with my friends when I was in radio saying no, really, I'm an actor, I'm just between gigs. And you know, after 15 years it got to be a better joke and what happened was the day after CBS Radio canned hundreds of thousands of people coast to coast. The very next day I went to work as Mrs Vitali in the actors theater of Minnesota production of Tony and Tina's wedding.

Speaker 1:

How do I know that? Have you ever heard of that? I am. I have seen it at Second City or in the space next to Second City here in Chicago, so I do know that.

Speaker 2:

Well, and then you can see me as Mrs Vitali in my black chiffon, mourning and carrying my husband's portrait, my dead husband's portrait, and they had me sing Phunicule Phunicula. That thing ran for a year here. We even changed venues from downtown St Paul to out at Mall of America. We had such a great cast and such a great time, and over the course of the summer I was also playing a lady pirate. Was that the summer of the late? Yeah, I was also playing a lady pirate in the old log theater's children's production of Treasure Island. So it was the summer of doing 13 shows a week at two different theaters, and in my spare time I slept.

Speaker 1:

So my question, then, is how did you get into stand up? I'm still trying to. I mean, you're obviously extremely funny, and you've always been funny, and you've turned everything that you've done professionally and laced it with a sense of humor. I'm the role models, though, of women comedians at that particular time, I mean, I'm thinking about Joan Rivers or Phyllis Diller, and to me, as I look back on it, for example, phyllis Diller, of course, was so self-deprecating and Joan Rivers just was riffing all over her husband, it seems to me, if I remember correctly.

Speaker 2:

Oh, and Phyllis Diller. When I looked her up at one point I was quite thin and I was thinking of doing a Phyllis Diller impersonation. So much of her humor is very dark rape humor. It's just shocking. But when I was in the clubs it was the glorious 80s, so I was around. Miss Judy Tanuta may she rest in peace. What a beautiful fountain of laughter and joy. And Paula Poundstone and Rita Rudner and the initial incarnation of Roseanne, which is actually a interesting phase of the Roseanne story. So I was going out and doing clubs in an atmosphere that had these unusual ladies and what I would do would be write topical song parody to fit the headlines because of, you know, mad Magazine damage and all that exposure to the Smothers Brothers and the Fire Sign Theater. I had evidently I have the weird Al Jean and the evil gift of song parody. So like, give you a seasonal one. When we invaded, what was it years ago in the Bush administration? One of them was for Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. Miss Anita Hill testify in Congress, yes you will. The chorus was like harassment, harassment, harassment. She said it was harassment, harassment and so I would do that kind of thing. Did not get to the stardom level, but it was a lot of fun and I carry that forward into song parodies I'm putting into my podcast now. So, like the opening to the one they all laughed at, granny has a podcast said the concept wouldn't fly. They all laugh but now they're asking themselves why Doodly-ah, doodly-ah, doodly-ah? I'll send you that one, it's festive.

Speaker 1:

Yes, love it. So Ben perfect segue. Let's talk about. Granny has a podcast. Are you a granny?

Speaker 2:

I am technically a granny, in that I'm the third wife of a man who had children with the first wife.

Speaker 1:

So Is that called On paper, I can claim it. Yeah, Is that like a granny twice removed or something like that, I mean very removed.

Speaker 2:

He has like 12 grandkids and I've only met six of them. So it's like third wife is always like a stranger, no, so so I'm technically a granny, but what I found was when I was doing non-equity theater as an older woman and going to voiceover conferences as an older woman, I seem to have my spiritual grandchildren flocking to me. There seemed to be a lot of real, different, real creative young people out there who don't have an example of how to get weird when you're a how to get weird. Huh, there was a Freudian slip how, wow, how to get old when you're kind of a weird person.

Speaker 1:

Uh-huh.

Speaker 2:

You know cause? The media portrays everything. You know everybody has the same short white haircut. We all walk with the stoop. And we all sound like this. None of us sound like human beings and I'm sorry, you've noticed, jane. Every day when you wake up you sound like a Dick Van Dyke parody of an old lady. You know it's crap the way we're portrayed. So I meet a lot of younger people in theater and in voiceover and so forth, and there seems to be a crying need for somebody to be the good example of the weird grandma, just as there seems to be a crying need in my life to meet the young people who you know, like me. So you wanted to know about the origins. I went to a voiceover conference in 22 to learn about the state of the art as it was, and I realized that one of the things I was missing was a recent resume, cause you know showbiz and your podcaster, you know how it is. What have you done lately? What have you done lately? So I thought, well, I have the skills, I need the equipment. I could create some sort of online portfolio that showcases my ability to produce audio, my ability to write comedy, my ability to do voices what the heck would that be? And so one thing led to another, and Granny has a podcast is more of a comedy monologue with ramblings in a tribute to Irma Baumbach, and I don't think it's quite like anything anybody else is doing.

Speaker 1:

So we'll say it's not because there you don't have guests like I do. You know, you don't have interview questions sent up. You talk to yourself in different voices, you have all kinds of sound effects. In fact, when I listened to it the first time, I said to my husband ah man, I hate my podcast. That was the podcast. Ha ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ha ha.

Speaker 2:

For our listeners who don't understand, that was the nicest compliment Jane could have given me. Yes, see, that's why I'm laughing my ass off. Thank you, honey, that was sweet.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I mean, it was like, wow, this is fabulous, I wanna be doing that. So let's talk a little bit. You've mentioned ageism loud and clear, and sexism. Ha ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ha.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I'm on about those topics.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and where did you come up with the irreverent elder goddess? You know, that's very funny and we don't generally think of goddesses as older women, that's for sure. And how did that enter your funny little brain?

Speaker 2:

But when you study the mythologies of the Greeks and Romans and Vikings and all the non-European mythologies, we find that many of those goddesses are ageless and can appear as either maiden, mother or crown. Ooh, she said a mouthful Yaman nerd. Irreverent is a word I frequently had hurled at me and I accept it with glee and gratitude. Elder, because I love the feeling of elder, like a tribal elder, like it did a treatment for a movie that never got produced and it was just the trailer and it's me as the tribal elder no makeup, just a black robe, out in the forest Walking with someone who is obviously one of my younger priestesses, and we're talking about calling upon the ancient powers to destroy the humans ability to make war in the first place. And maybe we never got that movie made, but that day gave me a whole character. You know what I mean. And I guess the phrase Irreverent, elder, goddess, fell into place as I was thinking about re-upping my positioning statement on LinkedIn because there's so much competition in voiceover and audio production. I needed to set myself apart, so I've recently taken an interest in gaming. In gaming when there are where there are elder goddesses. I don't play video games. I'll not that end of video games, but it turns out, my friends, there's a huge industry and it's one of the markets where a vintage union experienced voiceover actor can actually find work. Led me down another garden path of special interest, research, right, a whole new thing to learn. And as I stand before the mortal, I find that there are powerful women characters being drawn, and they're not all being drawn in the United States, so that's kind of where that came from. I dislike the way society treats the elder woman. It's as if, once we go through the change, we are a tootsie roll wrapper to throw away. And it turns out why we are so discarded is because we are to be feared. We have not only experience and wit and education, but we can finally synthesize all that because of the miracle of what I call in my podcast Time travel, time travel, time travel, time travel. I didn't get it about the old folks. When I was a kid I didn't understand what they meant, and now that I can look back and remember events that took place six decades ago, the wealth of information you gain over a lifetime makes getting older the freaking thing you can possibly imagine. And if there's anybody young listening to me and Jane, today, I want to tell you about a conference conversation I had with three guys in their early, mid and late twenties at the end of a voiceover conference in Boston, because they were all history nerds, because they're all gaming nerds and they get into the history attached to the stories, attached to the games, attached to the strategies. And as our conversation rolled on, I pointed out that we're sitting in the 21st century and I am a 20th century woman telling you about my 19th century grandfather. We are occupying three centuries of space time right now with our own minds and sisters. The men were with me.

Speaker 1:

They were with you, they dug it.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, I think I just thought irreverent, elder goddess. Now, all of a sudden, I've written a character in the reader's mind she's irreverent, she's old and she has goddess powers. Maybe she could voice a commercial for my brand of feminine protection for the older woman.

Speaker 1:

Fabulous, fabulous so we'll see me. We could go on forever and I would love to. We could, alas, alas, but before I let you go, I'd like you to tell people where they can find you and where they can find out more information and how they can find your podcast and all that good stuff.

Speaker 2:

I would love to. So if you're looking for Granny has a podcast it's easy and maybe one day I'll tell you the Downton Abbey story of how it got its name Go to grannyhasapodcastcom. It's just that easy. I'm also available on Audible and Google Podcasts and Spotify and probably anywhere else you get your podcasts. If I'm not my forward-facing email that I'm not afraid to say, is Granny has a podcast at gmailcom, because duh.

Speaker 1:

Let me guess you have a website, and is it by chance? I don't know but cranny has podcastcom. Am I? Am I sort of close?

Speaker 2:

Jane, you are so spot-on. We are gonna give you the refrigerator, the trip to Hawaii and the VCR from 1987.

Speaker 1:

It's a good one, it's a pioneer, the gifts from all three doors, right and time to help. And what's behind door number one? Or do you want door number two? So I get all three.

Speaker 2:

All right, yes, and the tray that J Merrill is bringing down the aisle right now. That's a year's supply is super right there.

Speaker 1:

It's been really, really, really fun to spend some time with you. The fact that you came all the way from the suburbs and the suburbs of All right, well, I'll be out in the station wagon count potato chips. Thank you so much for having me.

Speaker 2:

I have a wonderful new 24. I can't wait to see what it brings us.

Speaker 1:

Thank you. Thank you very much. Bye, bye. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of older women and friends. Speaking of friends, please tell yours about this podcast and if you'd like to contact me with comments or suggestions, you can email me at older women and friends podcast at gmailcom. And while you're at it, please take a few minutes to write a review. It's really easy. Go to Apple Podcasts, type in older women and friends, scroll down the page and click on reviews. Until next time,

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