When Greenwich House senior Bibi Elvers was out of college, she worked behind the scenes in television alongside some of the biggest names of the mid-20th-century: Guy Lombardo, Jackie Gleason. One day before a taping of “The Jackie Gleason Show”, comedian Henny Youngman approached Bibi and asked her if he could run his routine by her. She agreed and for the next few minutes, Bibi stood almost stoically while Youngman, a legendary comedian in his own right, ran through his bit, desperate for a laugh. Bibi didn’t break.
“I’ve always been the serious kid on the block,” said Bibi. “Which makes it funny for me to be in a comedy class.” It’s not that Bibi doesn’t have a sense of humor, but she always knew how to keep it together, even when amused. “My husband was the laugher.” she added.
Sadly, Bibi’s husband passed away in 2019. So in 2020, when Bibi signed up to take a comedy class at Greenwich House, it was an emotional time for her. “It was a salvation for me.” said Bibi, “I felt like my husband would have been the first in line to laugh with me.”
The class met every Monday morning and comedian Jo Firestone helped her students feel comfortable doing comedy exercises, experimenting with comedy bits and making one another laugh, all in a remote setting. “One of the first things that struck me about Jo is how young she was,” said Bibi of the comedian who was born in 1987. “But as I got to know her better, she seemed older,” she added, wryly.
Bibi and her classmates were “thrilled” to learn that their inventive activity was being turned into a comedy special on the Peacock streaming service. The show became available on Friday, October 15 and the class participants held a screening and a wrap party of sorts two nights prior. On the Monday morning after the show debuted, Bibi and her classmates were right back in front of their ZOOM cameras for another lesson in laughter.