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August 18, 1952 |
Brooklyn, New York, United States
|Occupation||Comedian, writer, actress, Founder of Tails of Joy non-profit animal rescue org.|
|Spouse(s)||Bill Siddons (m. 2007)|
Boosler was born into a Jewish family and raised in Brooklyn. She was the youngest child and only daughter of her father, a Russian acrobat, and her mother, a Romanian ballerina. She attended public schools in Brooklyn, including Shellbank Junior High School and Sheepshead Bay High School.
After a job as a singer/dancer in touring companies and many unsuccessful waitressing jobs, Boosler worked as doorman at The Improvisation comedy club in New York for two and a half years. While working there, she met comedian Andy Kaufman, a regular at the club, who convinced her she should do standup comedy. The two lived together in Greenwich Village for three years and remained close friends until Kaufman's death. For her "comedy education" Boosler credits Kaufman as well as her other peers at the time, which included Freddie Prinze, Jay Leno, Larry David, Richard Lewis, Richard Belzer, Jimmie Walker, and Ed Bluestone.
In 1986 Boosler became the first female to get her own one-hour comedy special on cable when Showtime aired "Party of One." Having no credit cards or borrowing power, Boosler saved her money to produce the special herself when cable executives told her they didn't believe people would tune in to see a female do an hour of comedy. She successfully toured for 50 weeks a year performing a two-hour comedy show. People magazine gave it an ‘A’. John J. O’Connor in the New York Times wrote, ”How refreshing, a woman who doesn’t have to tear her own skin off for our amusement... an attractive human being simply standing there being funny, the first to feel she doesn’t have to be a grotesque....”
In 1988 in an appearance on CNN's Crossfire program, near the end of the show she called Mother Teresa a hypocrite because "she did not bring birth control to Calcutta." Hosts Michael Kinsley and Robert Novak both gasped and were visibly shaken. The show quickly cut to a commercial.
Up to 2011 Boosler has done seven cable specials. Her one-hour standup comedy concert specials for Showtime include “Party of One,” “Broadway Baby,” “Top Tomata” (broadcast live from Omaha and voted Best Comedy Special of the Year by readers of Cable Guide magazine), and “Live Nude Girls.” Her new year’s eve comedy-variety special “Elayne Boosler’s Midnight Hour” was a 90-minute special from a Town Hall in New York and telecast live on Showtime. Elayne has also written, directed, and acted in two half-hour movies for Cinemax: “Comedy From Here” (a drama) and “The Call.”
Boosler hosted the short-lived game show Balderdash on PAX (now ION Television). Other television guest-hosting duties include "A.M. San Francisco," "The Late Show," "The Midnight Special," "Comic Strip Live," "Friday Night Videos," "The Gossip Show" on E, and many specials. She has contributed field pieces to many shows, including "The Today Show," "Not Necessarily the News," and "Donny and Marie." In the early days of cable, Boosler wrote and hosted the Cable ACE Awards. Her specials were nominated every year they premiered. She has also written and hosted awards shows for the "Writer's Guild of America" (both west and east), for "New York Women in Film and Television" twice, for the "Pollstar Awards" three times, the "Daytime Emmys," the "Casting Director's Guild," and many others.
Cable and Network Television Appearances
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Besides her standup comedy career, Boosler has also guest- starred as an actress on Night Court, "The Cosby Show," "Living Single," "Dear John," "Sisters," and "Dr. Katz- Professional Therapist" and done cartoon voiceovers. She guested on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" 32 times. The year before Andy Kaufman's death, she and Kaufman wrote his last special together, "Soundstage: Andy Kaufman," wherein she and Kaufman performed an interview with Kaufman seated at a desk that towered over her by eight feet. Boosler appeared on HBO's "Comic Relief" for six years. She appeared on ABC's "A Festival at Ford's Theater," entertaining President Clinton and Congress. Her specials ran for years on the BBC, and she has performed twice at the London Palladium—once for a live Easter special and once at the Command Performance for the Queen. She was the first comedian chosen by President Clinton to perform at the White House Press Correspondents' dinner during his first year in office.
Boosler is active in liberal politics. On July 11, 2003, she moderated a Democratic presidential candidates debate on C-Span hosted by the National Organization for Women. She is also a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. She works on behalf of women's reproductive freedom and has been honored by the "Women's Reproductive Rights Assistance Project." She has been a frequent guest during election cycles on "Larry King Live" and after-debate roundtables on CNN and local news channels. She appeared frequently on "CNN & Co." For three years she was the permanent guest host for Stephanie Miller on The Stephanie Miller Show, a progressive radio talk show.
Animal rescue and advocacy
Boosler began volunteering at Boxer Rescue of Los Angeles in 1995. She eventually joined its Board of Directors and raised the down payment needed for them to buy a rescue kennel. She moved on and founded her own animal rescue and advocacy organization, "(Elayne Boosler's) Tails of Joy" in 2001. "Tails of Joy" is a nonprofit organization that benefits the smallest, neediest rescue organizations and individual cases nationwide.