Andrew Phung (left) and Aisha Alfa present the nominations for the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards are announced in Toronto, on Thursday, February 7, 2019. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Canadian Screen Award honouree Mary Walsh on the ‘big payoff’ that comes with age

This year’s Canadian Screen Awards are set for March 31

A funny thing happened to comedy star Mary Walsh as she got older — instead of slipping into the sad and gloomy decline society had warned her about, she found herself getting happier.

At first she thought it was just her, but then she researched it and realized science has shown it’s a common feeling that comes with age, ”no matter what your physical ailments or your money situation.”

“Now, if you have been miserably unhappy, you’re not going to shine with the light of 10,000 suns, but you’re going to be happier than you were when you were 46 when you’re 66,” says the St. John’s satirist, who recently gave a TEDx Talk in Toronto about old-age happiness.

“I remember reading years and years ago that life was full of 1,000 tendernesses and thinking, ‘Oh yeah.’ But then it hit me: that is true. As I get older and more wrinkly, I can’t see myself really because my eyes are gone, and so when I look in the mirror, I look quite good,” the 66-year-old continues with a laugh.

“It’s the world being tender with you. You’re losing everything that you have, everything that you’ve depended on, everything that you’ve known — and to make up for that, you’re happier.”

Indeed, Walsh appears to be living her best life these days.

The creator of the CBC comedy “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” was announced Thursday as the recipient of the Earle Grey Award at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards, set for March 31.

The award is for her body of work, which has also included starring in the 1980s-’90s ”CODCO” sketch comedy series, and writing, producing and starring in the mid-2000s sitcom “Hatching, Matching and Dispatching.”

“I keep trying to be very calm about it and go, ‘Yes, I’m very good,’ but actually inside I’m leaping up and down and bubbling,” Walsh says. “It is, of course, a great honour.”

It’s one of many things Walsh has on the go.

She’s currently starring in the CBC series “Little Dog,” preparing for another appearance on “22 Minutes” and planning a cross-Canada trip with “22 Minutes” cast member Cathy Jones to record online sketches featuring their “old-lady characters.”

Walsh is also doing a short documentary with the National Film Board of Canada on how “women get more radical as they age.”

“Again with the 1,000 tendernesses theme that I seem to be playing, we find ourselves sexually invisible at some point. We find that we’re not the object of anyone’s desire anymore, we fall out of that place,” Walsh says in discussing the doc.

“But the big payoff for that is we suddenly become the subject of our own lives for the first time…. It is a great revelation, to get older and to just feel that freedom of being the subject of your own life as opposed to longing to be the object of someone else’s desire.”

Walsh is also writing a feature film screenplay about Newfoundland and Labrador’s 1966 Come Home Year civic event, in which those who hailed from the province were encouraged to return. The story features a 13-year-old girl who is sent back “to the people who didn’t want her in the first place,” Walsh says.

The film is taking longer to write than Walsh expected.

“I find that all mountains are steep now and that all steps are more slow,” she says.

But she doesn’t lose heart over such matters anymore.

“I think, ‘No, I’ll just keep going. I’ll get a chance at it again. I’ll sit down at it again and I’ll keep going,’” says Walsh, who is also a mental-health advocate.

“Whereas before I would just go, ‘Oh, well, obviously then I’m not meant to do that,’ and say goodbye.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

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