This subject perfectly suited the First Cut strand of documentaries, which doesn't presume to take up more than 30 minutes of your time. Clair Titley's film had the humble ambition of telling a quick, quietly extraordinary tale to leave you warmed and perhaps a little teary.
Jack Woodward, a 90-year-old Chelsea Pensioner, dreamed of reviving the stand-up comedy career he'd given up in 1968. But he didn't want to return to the working men's clubs of Gateshead, where they used to throw coal at his head. Jack, a keen viewer of stand-up on the telly on Friday nights, craved a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo, spiritual home of one of his favourite comics, Michael McIntyre. (Jack's other touchstone: Max Miller.)
This aim was cheerily stated by Jack, who had more twinkle and gusto than most of us have left by 25, but knew his limitations. "At my age, the biggest problem with stand-up comedy is trying to stand up."
The warm-up gig was a deathly fiasco. At an old people's home "luncheon club", Jack took the mic and told a joke that would have been weak in 1912, let alone 2012. One of the audience got up to leave immediately. Tough crowd.
As comedy writer Les Keen was brought in to do some emergency schooling, we learnt the basics of Jack's life story: the lost loves, the daughter gone to America, the near-fatal heart attack last year. Such is the likely emotional and physical pain accrued over nine decades of living, but it was enough for us to start rooting for him as he stared determinedly into the mirror and stumbled over Les's gags.
Come the night itself – a five-minute support slot for the game Ed Byrne, who charmingly introduced Jack to 3,000 Apollo ticket-holders – and Jack aced it, walking very, very slowly across the huge stage to deliver the killer opener: "I heard you clapping. I came as quick as I could," before running fairly fluently through a set of jokes, most of them knob gags, held up on giant cue cards.
As Jack shuffled off again to a standing ovation, comedy felt like the simple, folksy joy it more often should be. His daughter was back in the UK to see the show. "Dad's always told me, 'When I'm gone, I want you to put on my tombstone: Here lies Jack. He made us laugh.'"
Britain's Oldest Stand-Up is available on 4oD.