SARASOTA -- When real estate salesman Gid Pool changed careers and went into stand-up comedy at age 61, he was a man in a hurry.
"I am so old I don't have time for a slump," he quipped.
Now 67, the Sarasota County resident is getting national attention for his successful late-life career change. In December, the Wall Street Journal published a full-page story on him, and between 8:30 and 9 a.m. May 8 he is scheduled to be featured on
AARP's "Your Life Calling TODAY with Jane Pauley," a monthly feature on the NBC TODAY show.
If someone had suggested he might achieve notoriety of that sort, Pool's response would have been a skeptical, "Oh really?"
Pool bears a superficial resemblance to comedy star Larry David, but he's closer to the heart and soul of a Ron White. And he has achieved success not only by being funny, but through training, hard work and continually refining his act.
Today, he performs at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre & Humor Institute, 3333 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota as well as other clubs and venues around the country.
In the past two years, he has spent more than 100 days on cruise ships teaching the art of comedy to others.
He knew that he wanted to go into comedy, but it was sort of like the person who wanted to be a rocket scientist, but didn't like physics.
Finally, he enrolled in McCurdy's comedy school, where he literally got his act together.
"I told every hack joke, but I was having a good time. If you are having a good time, you can survive the other stuff until you get good enough," Pool said.
Pool got "bit by the bug," Les McCurdy said of the class Pool took six years ago.
"He put the time and effort into the art form to become an accomplished professional comedian," McCurdy said.
New stand-up comedians start out hoping they have enough material to fill a time slot on stage, but eventually the good ones worry more about making it funny.
Pool is still working on his act, fine-tuning, making every word and gesture count.
He's constantly on the alert for new ideas, and takes notes on possible material with his smart phone. He also has a website, www.gidpool.com, that includes his schedule of performances, a bit of his background, and a video that offers a sample of his work.
AARP picked up on Pool as the exception to stand-up comedians just starting out who are typically much younger.
Baby boomers may be the first generation that gets a "do over," thanks to living longer and healthier through advances in science and medicine, McCurdy said. Boomers who reinvent themselves can stay healthier, need less money from the government and maybe even create new jobs.
"We need in this country to change the whole idea of retirement," McCurdy said.
Toni Ripo, a career adviser at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, says it takes courage and risk-taking for older workers to reinvent themselves.
Key factors are doing the research and planning, and getting the education required, she said.
"It's exciting that he can have a whole new career," Ripo said of Pool. "It's very hopeful when you see someone older get out there and do it again. It's almost like having nine lives."
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021. Tweet @jajones1