Following Chautauqua Speaks event, Love headlines evening of comedy for Women’s Club


John Warren
Contributing writer

It ain’t easy being Mike McAvey. Not when his wife is on stage.

Sally Love is getting ready to turn 80 (“Eighty is not the new 60, but I’ve decided to claim it”), and she came into standup comedy only a few years ago. Her routine is not for those who blush easily. 

Love will lead a comedy show, “Let’s Keep Laughing with Sally Love and Friends,” at 7 p.m. tonight at the Chautauqua Women’s Club House. It’s a follow-up to her sold-out show in 2021, which included the late political satirist – and Sally’s friend – Mark Russell.

Love, a native of Long Island, was in the Peace Corps, a radio and TV engineer, and a human resources executive recruiter. She also taught yoga and published a book, Sacred Circles, on women’s spirituality. 

Her journey into standup began Feb. 13, 2018, when she accompanied a friend to a standup comedy show. 

“I said, ‘I want to do this,’ ” she said. 

And so it was. Next up came some classes in Chautauqua that summer with “Saturday Night Live” veteran writer Alan Zweibel, followed by a “Standup 101” course in Love’s off-season home of Washington, D.C. 

Back in August 2019, on the last day of a week with the National Comedy Center called “What’s Funny?,” comedian and actor Maria Bamford and radio host Ophira Eisenberg called Love up to the Amphitheater stage as their morning lecture was winding down. After a 10-minute set, Love got a standing ovation. 

The raspy-voiced Love had ready-made content: the absurdity of dating after being widowed following 40 years of marriage.

“I waited two years to do online dating,” said Love, who was born Sally Love Banks. “At my age, I wasn’t expecting Sir Galahad; I was expecting sleep apnea.”

And so goes her routine.

“Atrial fibrillation is OK; most of my friends have it.”

“We want to see pictures of (men’s) garages and closets. We want thread count.”

“We don’t need more dating sites; we need a combination of and Yelp. We need user reviews.” 

That’s the tamer material for Love, who opened her impromptu Amp set by asking, “Can I go a little blue?” 

“I’m into pushing boundaries – the taboos. I like to get into a topic and sort of mine it,” said Love, who first came to Chautauqua in 1973. “I’m dealing with an aging body, so I deal a lot with that.”

Fellow comedian Kelly Carlin said that “Sally’s comedy is fresh, bold, and in a lane no one else occupies at this time.”

The show tonight will be dedicated to Russell, the PBS stalwart who died in April at age 90. In addition to Love, the event will include Stephen Stout, Meredith Flynn, Catie Miller, Nancy Stanley, Phil Lerman and Russell’s widow, Alison. 

Look in the front row for perennial good sport and No. 1 Sally Love fan McAvey, who Love married during this past off-season after several years as a couple. 

For more information and to buy tickets for the Aug. 8 event (tonight’s is sold out) visit

John Warren

The author John Warren