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Winning 81-year-old Northdale comic leaves 'em laughing

Forget what you always thought about little old ladies. Dottie Casper's one dirty
little gal.

At 81, this Northdale grandmother of 11 is blazing a trail as a standup comic, and she's not afraid to venture into mature themes.

Her stage props include cataract glasses and K-Y Jelly, hysterical for shock value alone.

"How did you sleep last night?" she recalls asking a girlfriend, who replied, "I slept like a baby & I wet the bed."

Yes, adult diapers get their moment, too.

Casper broke into the biz after taking comedy lessons at age 77 at Carrollwood's Side Splitters comedy club.

She says she did it because she didn't have anything else better to do, although she also enjoys bicycling and ping-pong.

She fell in love with performing.

And from Philthy Phil's bar on St. Pete Beach to meetings of the Carrollwood Area Business Association at the Northdale Recreation Center, audiences fell in love with her.

In December she was crowned Tampa Bay's Funniest Person at Side Splitters, beating out 140 comedians in six rounds for the title.

Come late May, Casper and the competition's top two runners­up — a 20- and 40-something — plan on taking their acts on the road as the Generations of Laughter tour.

Even with the title, "I don't consider myself a pro at all," said Casper, a former marriage counselor, pilot and teacher.

Side Splitters club boss Mark Craycraft, who thought of the tour, disagrees. He teases that she's got at least another 18 years of career left in her — which would make her 99.

She gets her inspiration from memories of her late husband, Mark, from conversations with friends, from just about everywhere. "Sometimes I can be lying in bed and something will cross my mind and make me laugh," she says. "And I'll tell myself to write that
one down."

If Mark could see her now, she says, "he'd roll over in his ashes and fall off the mantel."

Nothing is off-limits, including the Northdale-based seniors group, Older Wiser Lively Seniors. Casper says the acronym stands for Old Women Love Sex.

Entering the stage with a cane for support, she dishes about belly-button-low breasts and hearing aids. She describes a "gorgeous 20-year-old kid" who tried to hustle her in a game of pingpong on a cruise ship. She told the fellow, "Come down to my cabin and I'll show you what I can do with balls."

Whoops, hollers and shouts of "Go, Dottie!" fill the room, and then she moves on to
politics.

Her running mate if she were on the ballot? George Clooney because "I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have
under me."

After the performance, she muses that it was a "tough crowd." She acknowledges, "I'm at an age where I say I don't know where I want to go
with this."

But wherever she goes, she guarantees it will be fun.

Her son recently got her some business cards that read:

DOTTIE CASPER

Laugh, Cry, Fall off the Mantel

Amber Mobley can be reached at amobley@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5311.

Winning 81-year-old Northdale comic leaves 'em laughing 03/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 17, 2008 11:33am]
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