The Comedian Who Changed My Life…

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By  on April 8,


The Comedian Who Changed My Life is a series where comics talk about, you guessed it, the comedian who changed their life.

This is Elayne Boosler and the comedian who changed my life was a great comic named Totie Fields even though I never met her. It was in the seventies and I was selling out all across the country and yet I could not get on the Tonight Show because Johnny hated women comics. And as good as I was they wouldn’t put me on and without it you couldn’t really get a raise in pay or get into Las Vegas or work the good jobs because it really was the only door open in show business in those days and it was closed to me and women. So, they did have guest hosts in those days and Helen Reddy was about to guest host. The LA times did a piece on new comedians and I was in it saying that ‘gee I can’t get on the tonight show.’ Totie Fields read it. She happened to be good friends with Helen Reddy. Helen read it and called Totie Fields and said ‘do you think I should put her on?’ Totie had never even seen me and said ‘I hear she’s great, put her on.” And she did put me on and it opened the door to every single thing in show business for me. So even though I had never even met Totie Fields, it was the most wonderful thing anyone could have done for a young comic.


Comedian, writer and activist Elayne Boosler is a comedy veteran who hasappeared on virtually every talk show ever on TV, has produced and written five one-hour Showtime comedy specials, and appeared on Politically Incorrect over thirty times. Her performances in the 80′s were groundbreaking for female comics and paved the way for many who have followed her and she continues to perform on stage and television. Boosler has upcoming appearances in Palm Beach, New York City, Pennsylvania and Maryland. You can get more dates and other information at and follow her on twitter @ElayneBoosler.

Read more Comedians talking about “The Comedian who Changed My Life” and find out who changed the lives of Artie LangeDavid SteinbergRobert KellyJackie MartlingMichael Ian Black and Jim Florentine

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16 thoughts on “The Comedian Who Changed My Life…

  1. I saw Totie Fields in Westbury, oh, a hundred years ago! She was HYSTERICAL! Funniest woman alive back then. Too bad she didn't stay long enough!

  2. Back in the old days, before the recording devices, I would record the Osmond when they guest starred on shows by way of a cassette recorder propped in front of the speaker. One of those shows was Glen Campbell.
    That night Totie Fields and Dom Deluise were also guests. They did a hilarious skit. 40 years later I can still crack up laughing at the two of them even though it's just the audio.

  3. Thanks Elayne. This story is really very important , a great example for a social dynamic not always easy to understand….the power of references, in all of our lives, not just for us in the entertainment field, but individuals that make up our audiences too. You present a good basis here for some really funny material that may inspire many to 'stay the course.'

  4. Totie died from breast cancer while in her forties. So great that she " payed it forward" as Elayne is such a gifted and talented comedian. I'm so lucky to call her friend!

  5. Hi Elayne, I caught your show some years ago and you opened my eyes. You were warm, so funny and so REAL. WOW – Totie Fields, what an incredible lady she was…
    Awesome tribute and great memories.

  6. I have enjoyed your work since those early days of the first female stand-up comics….any chance you could come up to the Vancouver area (British Columbia, Canada? ) Suggest River Rock Casino theatre.

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