37 comedians remember their first time onstage after 9/11 and how the attacks changed comedy forever.
Funny Jean Smart very smart for playing wisecracking lady comic in “Hacks.” Now Emmy nominated she cites a few other female funny gals she’s fond of.
Jean Smart: “I’ve always loved watching comedians, Roseanne Barr was hilarious, loved Phyllis Diller as a kid, I remember Ellen DeGeneres’ first appearance on the Johnny Carson show and of course Joan Rivers, especially the early stuff. But of any woman I think my character is closer to Elayne Boosler in terms of rhythms and things like that. I like playing a comedian without the real risks of being a stand-up.”
Your intrepid tale teller and humble hilarity hounder found Boosler, a ‘Tonight Show’ regular over the last 30 years vacationing in Italy. It was late there. She was still funny.
Elayne Boosler: “I am thinking of suing Jean Smart. I cannot believe she is using my name to further her career.” Bawdy Boosler guffawed and then got serious. Elayne Boosler: “I can’t believe she even KNOWS my name! I am beyond fatutsed–that’s flattered in Brooklyn–that she knows my work and beyond that, that it has even one teensy molecule of contributing to the outstanding character she plays on one of the best, funniest and most enjoyable shows ever.”
Also Emmy bound, Smart’s also smart costar Hannah Einbinder. She was already a comic. On the show she’s brought in to punch up Smart’s punchless punchlines. Elayne Boosler: “I think the dynamic between Hannah Einbinder’s character as an ‘alternative’ comedian, and Ms. Smart’s character as a comedian, is brilliant. I look forward to having my name mentioned at least eight to eleven more times. Not many people know this, but Ms. Smart also based her character in ‘Mare of Easttown’ on me. I am thinking of living in Italy. I would only come back to hand Ms. Smart her Emmy for Hacks.”
By the way, schlepping to Italy, was Boosler visiting ruins? In a small local cafe sipping espresso? No. Her very ciao Bella behavior. Elayne Boosler: “I just finished watching Friday’s Mets game.”
Come back Elayne, the Mets play on TV here too.
Tom and Julie celebrate the life and career of the legendary Charles Grodin (1935-2021) with help from legendary guests Martin Short, Elayne Boosler, and Merrill Markoe. They talk Clifford, Grodin’s infamous appearances on Carson and Letterman, Midnight Run, the invention of cringe comedy, The Heartbreak Kid, unlikeability, Real Life, and more.
When I started performing at The Comedy Store in 1976, Paul Mooney was already a star there, leaving audiences exhausted from laughter. I remember so many of his great bits. They were always funny first, but also always packed with cultural awareness and justifiable anger. Paul was a justice crusader his entire life. He was funny, smart and fierce; scary if you didn’t know him and sometimes scary even if you did.
One day I ran into Mooney down my street at Ralph’s grocery store (comics are always amazed to see each other in daylight). I invited him up the block to my house for coffee.
“I don’t drink coffee.” (And remember, he really liked me.)
“Well how about a cup of tea?”
“Oh, you wanna bring a black man up to a fancy white neighborhood to see a fancy white people’s house you think he’s never seen before?” That was Mooney’s first response to everything and anything you might say to him.
“Paul, let’s go to the movies.”
“Oh, you think a black man never saw a movie before? He needs a white lady to get him into the movies?”
He agrees to come over for tea. In those days, I drank only one kind of tea. I thought it was the most special delicious tea I’d ever had. So Paul’s sitting at the kitchen table and we’re talking, and I’m boiling the kettle and putting the cups on the table. And he’s talking and I put the box of tea on the table and go back to the sink, and I realize I don’t hear him talking any more.
“Paul? Paul?” He’s nowhere to be found. I hear his car pull out of the driveway. I don’t know what happened. Then I see it. There on the table is the box of tea: “Plantation Mint”.
I love tv shows about the apocalypse, the dystopian future, contagions; the end of the world. Since I have been staying home to stop the spread of Covid, it’s become all the more real. I have no trouble believing flesh eating zombies exist. I can buy into space creatures, time jumping, intergalactic wars, islands disappearing and reappearing, dead characters showing up again, erudite chimps and Fish Men. I love it. And just when I am IN 100%, a fierce woman in a desolate landscape raises an arm, and BOOM! Her shaved armpits break the spell and ruin the whole construct. In the midst of all that Emmy winning great dusty deconstructed set decoration, they are startling. I can’t get past it. It’s like that Starbucks cup in Game of Thrones.
Somehow, no matter how many years we’re expected to believe it’s been since the world ended, or the cast has been stranded on an island, or in space, no matter how dirty people have become, or how many zombies are banging at the gates, women on tv still shave their pits… What are they shaving with? Clam shells? Covid has kept women like me home indoors for a year. I have running water and fifty kinds of soap yet I’m sure I’m not the only woman who now ignores her Lady Schick. And I’m not even fighting for my life in hostile territory with murderous predators at my heels. I have leisure time.
I can accept everything else; Zombies all wearing jeans because it seems the world ended on casual Friday. Fine. New fair Hollywood hiring practices that put overweight women four years into the apocalypse despite there having been no food for the last two. I’ll buy it. No candles in the apocalypse despite there having been five Pier I stores in every city in the world. Why aren’t the suburbs buried ten feet deep under Cinnamon Arugula wax? But okay. Still buying. Everyone on tv knows how to start a generator with a shoelace and a toothpick. No doctors survived but any grocer can take out a bullet, sew you up and you’ll be just fine. Why not? I love it! Even the women’s hair, except for one fine character whose hair looks like mine at home these days, is all pretty awesome. Symmetrical spiraling curls. Soho worthy cuts that definitely demand product long since discontinued. Shiny curtains of gossamer tresses. All teeth are whiter than white. Sure, I can go there. But no hairy pits? How fragile do you think we are?
And this my friends is why we need more women behind the cameras in Hollywood. This pits business is all because men can’t handle the truth. Men will show the Real Housewives getting their tushies bleached and waxed on tv, because, well, tushies! But hairy pits? No, man. You want ratings like in the old days? ONE show where the women have hairy armpits would be written about non- stop for a year. They’d all win Emmys and they’d raise their arms in an apocalyptic salute and get a standing ovation from the whole world. Especially Italy.
Hi My Peeps,
Thank you for all the loving posts, texts, phone messages, e-cards, and donations to Tails of Joy wishing me a happy birthday yesterday. I have not heard/seen any of them yet but I will later today.
I had a nice, low-key birthday planned. I was going to swim my usual mile in the pool. I swim a mile every day but always make sure to do it on my birthday to prove to myself I am not getting old. Then I was going to cook some great fish for my nephew and me, and we’d watch the Mets together and drink some champagne. I quit drinking a month ago after becoming an alcoholic during the first few months of lockdown. My hubby had already given me the greatest gift; solitude. He’s off with two friends on a bucket list motorcycle odyssey across the west, giving me the space I always crave and never get enough of. He sent pictures of Old Faithful spouting; gorgeous.
I woke up in the LA heat to find my never-sick-a-day-in-his-life younger dog pretty much paralyzed. Actually, I could not wake him. He was rigid and cold and locked in sleeping position. I tried and tried with no luck, but finally, after yelling loud enough for several minutes, maybe his soul heard me and came back into his body? (I know many of you will stop reading now lol. Pet owners “know” and will continue..) The vet was fully booked but I could drop him off and they’d get to him. On the 405 Fwy by 9am, speeding crosstown to the westside, immobile dog next to me. Dropped him off, headed back. For those who don’t know the 405 Fwy, it is what hell will be if we get there. You sit for hours to go one inch an hour. The heat had already hit 100°.
Rushed home to meet a workman who was coming to fix a phone problem. By then it was mid-afternoon. I rushed to Costco to buy the fish & champagne. I splurged and bought one I didn’t know but looked great for $19.99. I felt guilty spending that. I used to buy expensive bottles, but Tails of Joy cured me of that. Not buying a $50 bottle of the good stuff is a dog or two cats saved. The heat was stifling. As I left Costco I saw two incredibly handsome, fit, young black men rolling their cart to their car. They both wore t-shirts with stark black and white thick print so you could not miss the words if you were coming at them, “UNARMED“. I burst into tears.
I got into the car and the thermometer showed 111°, an unbelievable first. Thank dog global warming is only a hoax or I’d be worried. I was supposed to stop at a stranger’s house to pick up Bill’s lost cell phone, which he lost the day before his trip and this person just found, but she did not answer so I headed home instead. Thank goodness I did; as I pulled into the driveway, the car exploded in steam. The coolant tank just split in half and coolant was spewing all over the engine. I had my own Old Faithful!!
Luckily my nephew had arrived. So we could get back on the 405 to pick up the dog. If we didn’t have to drive, I might have downed the whole bottle of bubbly right then, but oblivion would have to wait. So we finally get to the vet and okay, it was most probably a disk in Beau’s back. He came out so stoned it was like trying to talk to Robert Downey Jr. in the ’80s. But he certainly looked $567.42 better, and that’s with a rescue discount. Important Note: I never, ever, EVER use Tails of Joy money for my own dogs. That would be a SCROTUS move. We run a clean ship.
We get home and fuzzy Keith Richards is able to walk from the car, yay! My other dog and my nephew’s dog whom I love love love come out to greet him and they run into the house happy. We crack open the champagne and both take one sip and spit it out. Tasteless bad fizz like putting an Alka Seltzer tablet into your mouth. We’re too tired to cook the fish so we take out leftovers. We bring them to the outdoor tv at the pool and turn on the Mets game (mlb.tv, watch the game any time you want). And there, umpiring at first base, is my Sheepshead Bay High School buddy Steve’s son. Steve had texted me it was happening but during this day I forgot. I realize I don’t feel even a little bad about the day. Why?
Because these “problems” were the whitest, most first world problems anyone could have, and I am one of the luckiest people in the world. “Bad champagne”? LOLOL. “Outdoor tv by the pool”, not “bleeding and sweeping up shrapnel in any one of a score of countries”. And all day there was a solution available at every turn: I had the money to help my dog, a vet who knows us, a beautiful car that has run well for 20 years and deserves to let off steam, a wonderful nephew who loves the Mets like I do, and shares fish with me that my husband won’t touch. And I am not forced to wear a t-shirt that says “UNARMED”. My friend’s son is a Major League umpire because we were not shot in school. My dog will probably be okay, and I have the money to send him to drug rehab after the medicine is gone because right now he’s smoking a Marlboro and listening to the Stones. I am waiting for a tow truck, and it’s only 105° today so things are looking up. On the shallow end, I weigh exactly 38 pounds less than on my birthday last year. And hey, the Mets WON!!! Plus, my nephew brought us a flan from the most delicious little taco joint on Sunset, and my great friends Penny and Dewey Bunnell sent a birthday cake all the way from Wisconsin.
I got into bed and saw the beautiful, proud, loving people in all fifty states nominate Joe Biden for president at the Democratic National Convention. I feel sure that the people who vote for Biden will help change the soul of this country so that, one day, no one in America will have to wear a t-shirt that says “UNARMED”. I drifted off to the righteous indignation of John Kerry expressing the anger that all decent human beings feel at what has been done to our country, our people, our system of justice, our constitution. I drifted off feeling there will be better days ahead.
I am waiting for the tow truck. I will then read and enjoy the many many good wishes everyone posted, texted, phone messaged to me yesterday. I will then get back to work sending out help for pets and homeless animals all across the country, as I see Tails of Joy has received about thirty new hopeful emails, asking for the help I was lucky enough to be able to afford for my own dog yesterday. I know I have made it, I am lucky, I am here.
What a great, great birthday.
Find on @SIRIUSXM #127 we are broadcasting LIVE and check out this guest list:
@peterframpton @ElayneBoosler @LisaBloom @igorvolsky
@bobcesca_go @Comedydaddy, covering EVERYTHING, plus your calls at 866.997.GRIT.
With my cousin Dorothea, August, 2018
Follow the ongoing saga of my cousin Dorothea. Had her own long held family burial plot in a Jewish cemetery. Victim of Covid-19 in a Brooklyn nursing home, where they did not answer the phones for three weeks, and never informed the family she died. Then they buried her without telling us. In a catholic cemetery…
July 9, 2020 Update in LostMessiah