It’s not too late

Recently I was talking to a guy who I have been coaching. He is probably 19 or 20. We were walking into a music room for rehearsal and he said something along the lines of, “I wish I had taken more music classes,” as if it were too late for him. I’m sure I’m taking his words a bit out of context, but it made me laugh, because I couldn’t help thinking of John Ward.

John “Dr. Wimpy” Ward, was a very dedicated and passionate member of the New York improv scene over the last eight years. He took classes, performed and was a huge supporter of others. He often appeared as an agent with Improv Everywhere. He was a funny man and by all accounts a joy to play with. He started doing improv in his mid 50s. This last Sunday he passed away very unexpectedly.

Auditions for improv teams were held the weekend before he died at the UCB Theatre. It’s a collective freakout the community goes through every year as hundreds of UCB students compete for a handful of coveted spots on Harold teams. And among the hundreds of hopeful 20 something kids, desperately wanting to be on a team, was John Ward, a man in his 60s who looked remarkably like my childhood vision of Santa Claus. He was one of the few that got a call back, and I bet he was as thrilled as anyone to be seriously considered for a team.

It’s hard to resist the urge to reduce a man’s life down to a simple life lesson. I’m sure there was much more to John than his improv career, judging from the stories trickling in about his life before improv. But his example is an obvious slap in the face to anyone who thinks that it’s too late for them to be an actor, a musician, a writer or a comic.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about John, I’ve included some links:

If you knew John and have things you’d like to share about him, please feel free to add them to his wiki page.

2 thoughts on “It’s not too late”

  1. Wow, and I thought I was old at 35. I wish I’d known him. The one thing I love most about Improv is that it doesn’t seem to matter how old your are or what you look like. Everyone is equal and it’s just about getting better.

  2. John Ward was amazing. I was lucky to know him for a couple of years, and always felt he was someone that didn’t get bogged down with “growing up”. I was pretty wrong. Improv literally changed his life. His family talked about how he used to speak in technical jargon to keep people at a distance from him, when he spoke at all. He had a rough life teased as a kid and hiding away in academics. Improv unleashed the kid he shut down in order to adapted to the world.

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