Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Twisting the Plot

Jul 6, 2021

Who knew getting older could be so funny?

In the 1960’s gerontologist Robert Butler told us that thinking back over our lives is therapeutic. He termed his method of reminiscence, “Life Review”. Through a life review, experiences from the past, particularly the unresolved conflicts, can be resolved and reintegrated into our life experience.  

There is also substantial research pointing to the benefits of humor. Humor has been found to lower blood pressure, increase pain threshold, and improve the immune system. Humor reduces cortisol and increases endorphins in our systems. It also helps us gain perspective, sharpen our memory, and allows us to forgive ourselves and others. 

Story and laughter bring people together.

Enter, Mary Clohan, a stand-up comedian and graduate student in New York University’s program for Drama Therapy. Mary decided to combine these two healing processes. For her Masters’ thesis, she examined the process and benefits of what she calls, “Laugh Review.”

On this week’s Twisting the Plot Podcast we hear from Mary and five of her actor/subjects, all residents of Penn South, “a naturally occurring retirement community” located in NYC, fondly referred to as NORC.  

Take a listen and laugh along with us.

We are honored to have the following participants on this podcast:  Hilda Aronson, Michael Bournas-Ney, Martin Sturm, Florence Cohen, and Harriet Kriegel.  


Cast Bios:

Mary Clohan is a writer, performer, teaching artist and recent graduate of the NYU Master’s Program in Drama Therapy.  She has been performing stand-up comedy and improv comedy around NYC for the past 4 years and is interested in the therapeutic potential of humor and comedy within the creative arts therapies. Reach out to Mary Clohan via email at

Hilda Aronson - Hilda had her 89th birthday six months ago and, being in very poor health, or lack thereof, is very proud of her highest achievement: simply being alive. Personal and professional successes lose importance. Giving and receiving an abundance of love, that's what she identifies with. All the rest is illusion.

Michael Bournas-Ney - Michael premiered as an actor in first grade, when he played the part of a washcloth. (His friend was a bar of soap.) He loves humor and was thrilled to be part of Mary's stand-up class.

Martin Sturm - Martin is now a playwright, standup comedian, and actor. These are accomplishments that he didn't think were possible, in all his wildest dreams.

Florence Cohen - Florence is a lifelong closet comedian who always tried to keep companions amused. She is also a current abstract painter and a senior trying to keep up with a constantly changing world.

Harriet Kriegel - Harriet began as a high school English teacher, moved to health care, and became Vice President of Public Affairs, Development, and Marketing at The Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged. After retiring, she joined the Board of Penn South Social Services, which sponsors the Penn South Program for Seniors, where she has become involved with theatre and acting, discovering new talents, and doing Stand-Up Comedy. It is a thrill to discover a new skill when you are 87!