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Couple Starts a Comedy Showcase as a Way to Give Back

Retirees are building a community through laughter

An older man and woman sitting at a table laughing

John Loomis

Malynda and Rich Madzel.

Rich Madzel: I had retired from Motorola, and we'd sold a telemarketing business we ran together. I was bored. When I get bored, I get in trouble or fall asleep. It's one or the other.

Malynda Madzel: He's always been like that. We moved to Maryland to raise our family. We love it here, but when the kids left, we realized we needed a new mission. Rich had started producing 10-minute plays for new playwrights, but he wanted to do more. In 2018, while we were visiting family in Brooklyn, Rich said, “We need to find something that is a need that no one else is doing.” I said, “Here we go again."

"Just because you're 80 years old doesn't mean you have to curl up and die. I don't want to talk about what used to be; I want to talk about what's coming tomorrow."

— RICH MADZEL

Rich: I had the whole plan for the comedy showcase written by the time we got off the New Jersey Turnpike. That's what I do: I get an idea and I go crazy on it for a few hours or days. Nine out of 10 of them go away, but once in a while, one sticks.

Malynda: We put together a comedy night for area stand-up acts, including first-timers.

Rich: I put the word out about what we were doing. Once, we were out to dinner with friends and the waiter was funny, so I asked, “Ever thought about doing comedy?” He said, “Actually, yes.”

Malynda: He performed at one of our shows.

Rich: We always need talent, so we bring it up all the time. You'd be surprised how many people think they're comedians.

Malynda: What I have enjoyed most about this is meeting all these talented people.

Rich: We do about 10 shows a year, at a local restaurant called 18th & 21st. The audience gets a great dinner and a fun night out.

Malynda: This community has been very good to us. This is our way to give back.

Rich: This is the ideal time in life to do something like this. Just because you're 80 years old doesn't mean you have to curl up and die. I don't want to talk about what used to be; I want to talk about what's coming tomorrow.

—As told to Faye McCray

Rich, 81, and Malynda Madzel, 75, are the founders of Try It Out Comedy in Columbia, Maryland.