Guinness Book of World Records Names World’s Oldest Female Comedian
Of all the strange categories kept by the Guinness Book of World Records, the honor of “World’s Oldest Female Comedian” is one that takes a surprising amount of time to unpack.
First, how does Guinness define “comedian”? Plenty of people have grandmothers who find themselves hysterical, and at least a few of them must shuffle up to the mic during talent night at the senior citizens’ center. Also, why exactly does the “World’s Oldest Comedian” category need to be separated by gender? Women live roughly eight percent longer lives than men on average — does Guinness consider that advantage unfair enough to print two separate certificates?
Whatever the criteria, Guinness has officially recognized 88-year-old performer D’yan Forest with the honor of “World’s Oldest Female Comedian,” a record which the stand-up and musician accepted on The Drew Barrymore Show last week.
Forest bills herself as a multi-talented actress, stand-up comedian and cabaret performer who has graced stages in New York, Edinburgh, Paris and even Ethiopia. She got her start as a singer and pianist performing regularly in lounges and clubs across the globe, but then, as she told Barrymore, “9/11 happened and all of the sudden us musicians were out of work for a year because people were very sad.” Already in her mid-60s, Forest felt she needed a career change — shortly after the worst terrorist attack in American history dried up her music gigs, she began her work in comedy, which she has continued to this day.
During her career in humor, Forest has rubbed shoulders with some of the most notable names in the business — Joan Rivers apparently once called Forest “the filthy ukulele player” for her incorporation of music elements in her act and her delightfully dirty jokes. Forest prefers to call herself “risqué.”
Comedy enthusiasts of New York and Paris can catch Forest’s performances at venues such as the Gotham Comedy Club or La Nouvelle Seine, but be warned — Forest wants you to know that she is not your grandmother, “So if you kiss me, I expect a little tongue.”