Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Dorothy Casper

In her 70s, Dottie Casper played her age for laughs

TAMPA — Before she took the stage with a cane and dark cataract sunglasses and a tube of K-Y Jelly as laugh props, before she was voted "Tampa Bay's Funniest Person" at age 80, Dottie Casper was a by-the-book mom whose children weren't always laughing.

It was Miami in the 1950s and '60s. Her husband, Mark Casper, was a divorce lawyer. Her first-born daughter, Susie Cano of Tampa, recalled a strict upbringing, and a parenting script that often came to this: "I'm your mother, and I said so."

With the hippie movement, the parenting shifted. They took their youngest son, Kenneth, to communes for summer vacations. Mom's "I said so" became "How do you feel?" As the children left for college, the mother returned to school to study psychology. She became a marriage counselor, advising some of her husband's clients.

They were married for 45 years, until Mark died in 1993 at age 65. It was a relationship, Mrs. Casper said in a 2008 interview with the St. Petersburg Times, that inspired some of her stage humor.

"Bless you, my husband," she said more than once from the stage. "If you could see me now, you'd roll over in your ashes and fall off the mantel."

• • •

Dottie Casper died Sept. 28 in her Northdale home. She was 83. She had been diagnosed with leukemia a year ago, her family said.

In recent months, she had taken to using a walker, but had not lost any of her previous spunk.

"Dottie was a firecracker," said Brian Thompson, general manager of Side Splitters comedy club in Carrollwood. "She enjoyed life and seemed to get the most out of every moment."

It was at Side Splitters that Mrs. Casper enrolled in a stand-up comedy workshop at age 77. Her jokes were blunt. Most were about aging. Many were adult-themed.

The one about her large bag: "Old ladies carry these big pocket books because we are afraid of being without something we may need right away, like (taking items out) … eye drops … saliva replacement spray … K-Y Jelly."

The one about lap dancing: "We had to find some partners, and we went to a nursing home. We had some really willing men there. It was too bad though, because after only two sessions, we lost our partners. They all got up and started a Full Monty group and went into competition with us."

The one about Gasparilla: "Fortunately, at my age, I don't have to lift my T-shirt very high to flash."

"They don't expect these things out of an old lady," she told the Times in 2006. " People enjoy the unexpected."

• • •

It wasn't until after her husband died that Mrs. Casper found her funny bone. But even before the jokes, it was a life of continual reinvention.

While at Mount Holyoke College in the 1940s, she became a pilot. After raising five children, Mrs. Casper became a schoolteacher, and a swimming instructor. Then she pursued the master's degree in psychology, which led to marriage counseling.

In the 1980s, she and her daughter Karen Zabriskie co-founded a company called Affect Plus, which offers continuing education through home study to mental health professionals.

In retirement, she won local awards for photography and statewide awards for table tennis. In 1996, she helped found a seniors group called OWLS — Older, Wiser, Lively Seniors — in her Northdale neighborhood. On stage, she joked that the group's name actually had a double meaning: Older Women Love Sex.

In her six years in comedy, Casper performed around the state and auditioned for NBC's Last Comic Standing and America's Got Talent. She also landed a comic role in the film Jules Dongu Saves the World, which is in post-production. Her character sleeps with a man 50 years younger.

Her line: "You big hunk of burning love, come home to mama."

Reach Luis Perez at (727)892-2271 or lperez@sptimes.com.

. BIOGRAPHY

Dorothy Casper

Born: Jan. 18 1927.

Died: Sept. 28, 2010.

Survivors: Children Susie Cano and Gary Casper of Tampa, Cindy Kennedy of St. Petersburg, Kenneth Casper of Illinois and Karen Zabriskie of Tennessee; and 11 grandchildren.

In her 70s, Dottie Casper played her age for laughs 10/16/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 16, 2010 9:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Here kitty, kitty ...

    Blogs

    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  2. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  3. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)