The very first day, the comedian told Klein: “Some days, I don’t want to talk either, Muriel. When someone gets in my face, I think, ‘[expletive], do I look like I want to talk?’ ”

Klein repeated the expletive — a Yiddish word — laughing. Then she repeated it again. She lit up.

“After that visit, my mom became more engaged and started eating and laughing again,” said Modisett, who has taught comedy classes at the University of California at Los Angeles. “She felt that she was being seen.”

In early 2017, realizing that other seniors with memory loss could also benefit from some slapstick and one-liners, Modisett launched Laughter on Call, an organization that pairs comedians with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. The group also puts on laughter workshops and live comedy shows at care centers.