Carol Leifer

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Carol Leifer
Carol Leifer 2011-05-14.jpg
Carol Leifer on May 14, 2011
Born (1956-07-27) July 27, 1956 (age 64)
East Williston, New York, U.S.
MediumStand-up comedy, television, film, writing
Alma materBinghamton University
Queens College
GenresObservational comedy
Subject(s)LGBT, Jewish, women's issues, everyday life, parenting
SpouseRitch Shydner (1981–1987)
Lori Wolf (2002–present)
Children1 son (adopted)

Carol Leifer (/ˈlfər/ LEE-fər;[1] born July 27, 1956) is an American comedian, writer, producer and actress whose career as a stand-up comedian started in the 1970s when she was in college. David Letterman discovered her performing in a comedy club in the 1980s and she would later be a guest on Late Night with David Letterman over 25 times. She has written many television scripts including for The Larry Sanders Show, Saturday Night Live and Seinfeld.[2]

Leifer's inner-monologue driven, observational style is often autobiographical, encompassing subjects about her Jewish ancestry and upbringing, coming out, same-sex marriage, relationships (having been married previously to a man and now partnered with a woman) and parenting.[2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

Leifer was born in East Williston, New York, to an Ashkenazi Jewish family, the daughter of Anna, a psychologist, and Seymour Leifer, an optometrist.[5]

While studying for a theater degree at Binghamton University, Leifer accompanied her then boyfriend Paul Reiser to a comedy club to see him perform at the open mic night at Catch A Rising Star. Later she tried performing at New York's Comic Strip and was introduced by emcee Jerry Seinfeld.[4]


Carol Leifer

Leifer is a stand-up comedian, writer, producer and actor.

She performed stand-up comedy on Late Night with David Letterman 25 times. Leifer also appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Dr. Katz, Politically Incorrect, Hollywood Squares, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Her stand-up experience also includes opening for Jerry Seinfeld and Frank Sinatra. Sinatra praised Leifer as "one funny broad!" and "I wish my mother had been that funny – I wouldn't have had to work so hard."[2]

In 1988, she had her own special on Cinemax titled Carol Doesn't Leifer Anymore, which was produced by David Letterman. This was shortly followed by the specials Carol Leifer Comedy Cruise (1989) and Really Big Shoo! (1990). She wrote and starred in the 1992 Showtime TV film Gaudy, Bawdy & Blue, a mockumentary about fictional aged comedienne Rusty Berman (played by Leifer), told through interviews and flashbacks; the film had a similar concept to the film Mr. Saturday Night, which had come out several months earlier.

Lefier was a writer on Saturday Night Live during the 1985/1986 season. She has also been involved in television shows including Seinfeld, It's Like, You Know... and The Larry Sanders Show. She has written for the Academy Awards for most of the 21st century.

Her hosting duties have included episodes of A&E's Caroline's Comedy Hour (1989-1993), Talk Soup and Later.

Leifer starred in, created and executive-produced the 1997 WB sitcom Alright Already, called one of the "10 Best New Shows of the New Season" by the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. Despite good reviews, the show only ran one season. With Mitchell Hurwitz, Leifer created the short-lived The Ellen Show (2001). She was a writer and co-executive producer on the 2007-13 CBS sitcom Rules of Engagement.

On September 14, 2007, Leifer won an auction for the handwritten notes used by Michael Vick during his apology for his role in dogfighting.[6]

Leifer appeared as a contestant on the third season of Celebrity Apprentice.[7] She was the first to be eliminated, on the premiere episode, which aired on March 14, 2010.[8]

She has been nominated for four Emmy Awards.[9][10]


Leifer joined the Seinfeld writing staff during its fifth season (1993–94), and wrote six episodes for the show between then and its seventh season (1995–96). She has been dubbed "the real Elaine", as the series' character, Elaine Benes, was partially based on her.[11] Her episodes, listed chronologically, are:

Season five
Season six
Season seven

Other work[edit]

Her first book of humorous essays, entitled When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win, was released on March 10, 2009.[12][13] In it, she discusses the moment she discovered she might be gay and how her life changed for the better.[14]

Personal life[edit]

From 1981 to 1987, Leifer was married to comic Ritch Shydner, whose gentile status troubled Leifer's father.[9]

In 1996, Leifer met Lori Wolf, a Jewish real estate executive, when they shared a table at a Project Angel Food charity dinner in Los Angeles. Although Leifer had identified as heterosexual up until then, she later contacted Wolf through the host of their table, though Wolf initially rebuffed Leifer's overtures because Wolf was in a relationship at the time. Wolf contacted Leifer weeks later, after Wolf had ended her relationship, and began one with Leifer. They moved in together in 2005, and in acclimating herself to Wolf's pets, Leifer became an animal rights activist. It was for this reason that she chose North Shore Animal League as her charity when she appeared in The Celebrity Apprentice.[9] In 2006 they purchased a $3.2-million, 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) home in the Santa Monica Hills,[15] as part of their preparations to adopt their nine-month-old son, Bruno Leifer-Wolf, who was born in Guatemala in 2007.[9][16] That year, Leifer proposed to Wolf over dinner at the Palm Restaurant in Beverly Hills. On December 5, 2015, they were married by Rabbi Ron Stern at the Brentwood Country Club in Los Angeles. In attendance were Jane Lynch, Larry David, Bill Maher, Garry Shandling, Henry Winkler, Larry Miller, Jay Leno and Paul Reiser.[9]

Leifer has become vegan, saying "I recently became vegan because I felt that as a Jewish lesbian, I wasn’t part of a small enough minority. So now I’m a Jewish lesbian vegan."[17][18]


  1. ^ "Say How? A Pronunciation Guide to Names of Public Figures". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Cantor, Danielle (Spring 2009). "Successful Woman:Carol Leifer". Jewish Woman magazine.
  3. ^ "Women Leaving Men for Other Women" on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" airdate 25 March 2009.
  4. ^ a b The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America by Lawrence J. Epstein; PublicAffairs, 2002; ISBN 1-58648-162-2, ISBN 978-1-58648-162-9.
  5. ^ "Carol Leifer Biography (1956–)". Film Reference. Retrieved 2011-08-27.
  6. ^ "TV producer pays $10,200 for notes from Vick's apology". ESPN. September 14, 2007.
  7. ^ Starr, Michael (17 October 2009). "'Celebrity Apprentice 3' cast revealed". New York Post. New York, USA. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  8. ^ Gardiola, Christal (March 15, 2010). "Carol Leifer Fired by Trump". Shalom Life. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  9. ^ a b c d e Diamond, Jamie (December 11, 2015). "Carol Leifer Proves You Don’t Have to Be Unhappy to Be Funny". The New York Times.
  10. ^ . [1]. Emmy Awards website.
  11. ^ Lyman, Rick (1997-09-07). "Touching moments with Leifer? Get real!". The New York Times. Retrieved Apr 29, 2009.
  12. ^ Shapiro, Gregg (2009-01-28). "Leifer = laughter: an interview with out comedian Carol Leifer". Chicago Free Press. Archived from the original on April 1, 2009.
  13. ^ Donahue, Dick; Martinez, Juan (2009-01-26). "Spring 2009 Hardcovers: Biography & Memoir". Publisher's Weekly. Archived from the original on January 30, 2009.
  14. ^ Neglia, Ashley (July 2009). "Gay After 40: Carol Leifer and Her Mid-Life Change". AOL Health. Archived from the original on July 14, 2009. Retrieved July 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ Ryon, Ruth (2006-07-30). "Stand-up adds a new home, baby to routine". The Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ "Bruno Leifer-Wolf". Variety. 2007-03-11.
  17. ^ "Carol Leifer Gets Weirder: Now Jewish, Lesbian, AND Vegan". Vegetarian Star. July 9, 2009.
  18. ^ "Carol leifer: a vegan and a lesbian". The Howard Stern Show. 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2011-08-27.

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