It was on a plane back from Paris that David Garver felt his life shift. His wife had taken him to the city as a surprise gift for his 50th birthday. “My first and only time to Europe was Paris,” he says, “and it just blew my head wide open.”
A side effect of having one’s head blown open is that it leads to introspection. “I remember coming back on the plane and feeling this grand sense of, Who am I, what am I, what have I done?” he says. “Maybe everything I knew was wrong.” Garver decided the culprit behind those thoughts was middle age, and he started talking to his other middle-aged male friends to see if they were thinking the same things. “I came to the conclusion that this was some sort of evolution,” he says. “It wasn’t growing old and falling; it was becoming more of who I truly am.”
Garver took all that mulling and pondering and molded it into a one-man show, The Age Between Sage and Fool, a comedy about a series of men in the throes of mid-life. Drawing from people he knows and, most of all, himself, Garver crafted characters who represent different sides of aging. There’s the unemployed actor-cum-hit-man, the loquacious baseball manager and the spiritual sex guru. And then there’s the Elvis impersonator, who’s perhaps most closely based on Garver’s real life.
“I accidentally, for a time, was an Elvis impersonator in college,” Garver says, somewhat sheepishly. It started when he dressed up as the rock legend for Halloween. Someone saw him and hired him to do it at a convention in Vegas. His stint didn’t last terribly long, but “there’s always Elvis creeping around inside of me,” he says. Including the character in his show felt necessary, he adds. “I think most guys identify with Elvis in a sort of way, like he’s the ultimate male.” Of course, in Garver’s impersonation of the impersonator, he’s performing in a retirement home, breathing heavily and pulling muscles.
The Age has been developing for two years. Garver put the show together by alternating between writing the script and video-recording the work-in-progress. Watching himself on film helped him find what was and wasn’t gelling, he says, and it also led to his choice to include film vignettes in the live show. Three-minute movies of his characters in various locations serve to separate scenes and give Garver time for costume changes.
Garver has written two other one-man shows, but this one comes with an especially personal message. He shares it through a line from his baseball manager. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts,” he says, adding, “you can’t stop evolution.”