Elayne Boosler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Elayne Boosler
Elayne Boosler on David Feldman's podcast.jpg
Boosler on David Feldman's podcast in 2016
Born (1952-08-18) August 18, 1952 (age 69)
OccupationComedian, writer, actress, activist, philanthropist
Years active1973–present
Spouse(s)
(m. 2007)

Elayne Boosler (born August 18, 1952)[1] is an American comedian, writer and actor.

She was one of the few women working in stand-up comedy in the 1970s and 80s and she broke ground by adopting an observational style, that included frank discussions about her life as a single woman, as well as political commentary.[2][3][4][5][6] Her 1985, self-produced comedy special Party of One was the first hour-long comedy special by a female comedian to appear on a cable television network.[7][8]

Comedian Richard Lewis told The New York Times in 1984: "She is the Jackie Robinson of my generation. She is the strongest female working. She broke the mold for most female comics."[9] Rolling Stone referred to her as "The First Lady of Stand-Up" in 1988[10] and included Boosler in their list of the "50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time" in 2017.[11] In 2018, CNN included Boosler in their list of "Groundbreaking women in American comedy"[12] and critic Jason Zinoman of The New York Times referred to Boosler as "The Comedy Master Who Hasn’t Gotten Her Due."[3]

Early life[edit]

Born into a Jewish family and raised in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, Boosler was the youngest child of seven with six older brothers.[13][14] Her father was a Russian acrobat who later worked in the tool and die industry.[4][14] Her mother was a Romanian ballerina.[4] Boosler took singing lessons as a child as well as dance classes with the Joffrey Ballet for several years.[14]

Her first exposure to stand-up comedy was during her family's frequent travels to Las Vegas in her early teens.[14] She was too young to be allowed on the gambling floor of the hotel, so she often watched the comics performing at the lounge.[14] It was this experience that first generated her interest in stand-up comedy.[14]

She graduated from Sheepshead Bay High School in 1969[15] and was enrolled at the University of South Florida, but she dropped-out after two years[16] and traveled to the Bahamas where she worked for six months as a singer and dancer in a musical revue, before returning to New York.[13]

Career[edit]

Stand-up comedy[edit]

Boosler started performing stand-up comedy at The Improv in New York City in 1973.[7][17] She had been working at the club as a singing waitress, whose job was to sing between the comedic performances.[7] On a night when one of the scheduled comedians failed to show up, Boosler took to the stage to try some comedy and spent an hour telling jokes.[7][17] Afterward, Andy Kaufman suggested that she quit her singing job and try comedy instead.[17]

Her talent for comedy was recognized early by comedians and the media alike. By 1976, comic Jimmie Walker was her manager, she was the subject of a multi-page article in New York Magazine and had appeared on Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell and The Merv Griffin Show.[14] She moved to Los Angeles in 1977 and was featured in a Los Angeles Times article about women in comedy.[18] That same year she made her first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, with Helen Reddy sitting in as guest host.[19] Boosler credits Totie Fields for having suggested her to Reddy.[20]

Boosler became a regular performer at the Comedy Store, a male-dominated environment, where most female performers were relegated to a secondary stage in the upstairs corner of the club called the Belly Room.[13][21] Boosler refused to perform in the Belly Room and performed instead on the club's main stage.[21] Other comedians performing regularly at the Comedy Store that time included Freddie Prinze, Jay Leno, Richard Lewis, Richard Belzer, Jimmie Walker and Ed Bluestone.[6]

Like her male peers, Boosler's comedy was of a more observational and frank style.[3] Her comedic material drew upon her own life, including her experiences as a single woman, and also featured topical and political elements.[3] Boosler also became known for her rapid-fire delivery.[12][18] Her performance style set her apart from the more self-deprecating humor of female stand-up predecessors such as Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller, whose jokes often revolved around being a wife and mother.[2][10][19] Boosler preferred to distance herself from the "female comedian" label by declining to be interviewed for articles specifically about women in comedy and by avoiding female-centric comedy showcases.[7][9][19]

Johnny Carson stopped inviting her to The Tonight Show after she declined to read some self-deprecating material written for her.[21] Boosler credits David Letterman for bringing her back as a guest on the show during the episodes that he guest-hosted.[22] Letterman would later invite Boosler several times onto Late Night with David Letterman and Late Show with David Letterman.[3]

Boosler struggled to find funding for her first comedy special and was told that no one would watch a woman perform comedy on television.[7] In the end she personally financed Party Of One, which was shot in 1985 and which aired on Showtime in 1986, making Boosler the first woman to have an hour-long comedy special on a cable network.[11] After the success of Party Of One, Showtime signed-on for her subsequent specials Broadway Baby, Top Tomata and Live Nude Girls.[3][11] Boosler appeared on Larry King Live the following year.[23]

In the 1970s Boosler performed as an opening act for musical performers such as Helen Reddy, Ben Vereen and Johnny Mathis.[19] She performed for Queen Elizabeth II at the London Palladium as part of the Royal Variety Performance in 1989,[24] she performed at the White House Correspondents' Dinner during President Clinton's first year in office in 1993[25] and in 1997 she took part in a performance for Bill Clinton and United States Congress, filmed at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. and broadcast on ABC.[26] She appeared in CNN's The History of Comedy series broadcast in 2018.[27]

Television work[edit]

Boosler starred in the 1982 NBC series The Shape of Things, alongside Dottie Archibald, Rhonda Bates, Alvernette Jimenez, Maureen Murphy and David Ruprecht,[28] and also appeared on The Andy Kaufman Show, a talk show parody created by Kaufman that aired as an episode of the PBS series Soundstage in 1984.[29] In 1988 she co-hosted the CableACE Awards show (known as simply the ACE Awards at the time,) along with John Larroquette.[30] Throughout the 1980s and 90s she played guest roles on sitcoms such as Night Court, The Cosby Show, Living Single, Dear John and Sisters.[6][31] She also made regular appearances on Hollywood Squares.[32]

She wrote, directed, and acted in two half-hour movies for Cinemax: Comedy From Here, a drama that was broadcast in 1986 as part of the channel's Cinemax Comedy Experiment series, and The Call, a 1989 comedy in which Boosler's character awakens to find herself transformed into a cockroach.[30][33]

Her 1992 New Year's Eve comedy-variety special, Elayne Boosler's Midnight Hour, was a 90-minute show filmed at The Town Hall in New York City and was telecast live on Showtime.[34] She appeared on HBO's Comic Relief for six years and was also a frequent guest on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect.[31] In the 1990s she created comedic vignettes for the Today show[35] and in 2004, Boosler hosted the game show Balderdash on PAX (now ION Television).[36]

She also moderated a forum sponsored by the National Organization for Women during the 2004 Democratic Party presidential primaries that was televised on C-SPAN.[37][38]

Writing[edit]

Boosler has written for other performers, such as her work on Rodney Dangerfield's 1986 comedy special It Ain’t Easy Being Me.[22] She also wrote comedic material for Barbra Streisand that the singer used during her banter between songs.[39]

Boosler has written several pieces published in high profile publications: She wrote a tribute to Andy Kaufman for Esquire in 1984.[40] In 2003, she wrote an opinion piece about comic strips for the Los Angeles Times in reaction to statements made by comic strip artist Berkeley Breathed in an earlier LA Times article.[41] In 2018, Boosler wrote for Time about her experience of performing for the White House Correspondents' Dinner and the reaction to Michelle Wolf's performance at the event that year,[42] as well as a piece for CNN about trying to excuse offensive behavior by claiming it was a "joke".[43] She has also written pieces for George, USA Today and The New York Times[44] and was a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post between 2011 and 2017.[45]

In 2013 she premiered Rescue – A True Story, a musical performance featuring narration that was written by Boosler and that she read aloud to music composed by Carol Worthey and performed by the Glendale Philharmonic Orchestra of Glendale, Arizona.[46] The performance features the story of a dog's rescue.[46]

Political commentary, advocacy and charity work[edit]

Boosler was a frequent guest during election cycles on Larry King Live, CNN and Company and after-debate round tables on CNN.[47] She also appeared on The Joy Behar Show on the CNN Headline News network (now known as HLN.)[47] For several years, she was the permanent guest host on The Stephanie Miller Show, a progressive radio talk show.[37]

Boosler is a supporter of the Women's Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, an organization that raises money for women who are unable to pay for either emergency contraception or a safe and legal abortion.[48]

Boosler began working in animal rescue in 1996,[37] first by volunteering at Boxer Rescue of Los Angeles, eventually joining its board of directors and raised the down payment needed for them to buy a rescue kennel.[citation needed] In 2001, she founded her own nonprofit organization, Tails of Joy, devoted to animal rescue and advocacy.[37][49]

Personal life[edit]

Boosler lived with comedian and actor Robin Williams from 1977 to 1978.[27] In the 2012 book We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy, Williams said of Boosler: "It was amazing to see a woman stand-up, girl stand-up, and a beautiful one at the time–just gorgeous, sexy and yet still pretty gutsy. And her jokes were sort of veiled–it seemed kind of 'Oh gosh, oh golly'–but at the same time, her jokes were really tough. As Letterman would say, she's funny like a guy. Being tough, but yet at the same time being beautiful and sexy, and at the same time not using that as a ploy. She would be up there just performing, telling jokes. Like she talked about the right to life and two fisherman who'll throw the fish back, but they're for the death penalty. Tough stuff but said really sweetly."[17] Boosler was also interviewed for the 2018 HBO documentary Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.[27]

Boosler lived with Andy Kaufman for three years and remained close friends with him until his death in 1984.[7] She wrote an article for Esquire in Kaufman's memory, and dedicated her 1986 Showtime special Party of One to him.[3][40]

In the early 2000s, Boosler married Bill Siddons, a music industry executive and former manager of The Doors.[39][50]

Comedy specials[edit]

Year Title Studio Video formats Audio formats
1986 Party of One Showtime/Comedy Dynamics Broadcast / VHS (1993) / DVD, streaming (2018) Download/streaming (2019)[51]
1987 Broadway Baby Showtime/Comedy Dynamics Broadcast / VHS (1993) / DVD, streaming (2018) Download/streaming (2018)[52]
1989 Top Tomata Showtime/Comedy Dynamics Broadcast / DVD, streaming (2018) Download/streaming (2018)[53]
1991 Live Nude Girls Showtime/Paramount/Comedy Dynamics Broadcast / VHS (1997) / DVD (2018) / Streaming (2019) Download/streaming (2019)[54]
2018 50/50 Club Comedy Dynamics none, audio album only CD/download/streaming[55]
Timeless Brooklyn Productions/Comedy Dynamics 2xDVD boxed set CD[56]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "On This Date". The Tribune. San Luis Obispo, California, United States. August 18, 2020. p. 2A. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Elayne Boosler is 68.
  2. ^ a b Kohen, Yael (2012). "I Am Woman". We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 117. ISBN 9781466828117. When Boosler emerged at the New York Improv in 1973, she was the first female stand-up to make waves since Joan Rivers and the first to evoke the women's lib attitude of the time. (Lily Tomlin, remember, was not a joke-teller.) Boosler set the tone for the women of the decade, and by the end of the 1970s, female comics were descending on the comedy clubs, pushing the limits of what women could confront onstage with their acts. And while no woman would achieve real success until the 1980s, when stand-up comedy exploded, the women of the 1970s indisputably broke new ground. They unshackled themselves from the old-school comedy conventions of Diller and Rivers (self-deprecation, husband jokes) and began the process of multiplying and amplifying the female voice--even if the glass ceiling they faced was harder to crack than the one faced by their sketch and sitcom peers.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Zinoman, Jason (September 30, 2018). "The Comedy Master Who Hasn't Gotten Her Due: Elayne Boosler". The New York Times. New York, New York, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b c O'Connor, John J. (October 7, 1986). "2 Comedy Programs, On HBO and Showtime". The New York Times. New York, New York, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Rosenthal, David N. (February 13, 1979). "A New Funny Girl". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida, United States. The Associated Press. p. B3. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Eventually, she left New York and took up a professional residence at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, a breeding ground for young comedians, but at that time, few comediennes.
  6. ^ a b c Micco, Lisa (April 4, 1996). "Leader of the pack". New Castle News. New Castle, Pennsylvania, United States. p. 9. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspaperarchive.com. By the early 1970s, Boosler became a standout as the first young, single comedienne making the rounds at clubs -- ventures dominated by male comics. Guided by Kaufman, whom she dated for three years, Boosler was the only female in a group of budding comedians -- Freddie Prinze, Jay Leno, Richard Lewis, Richard Belzer, Jimmie Walker and Ed Bluestone.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g McLellan, Dennis (January 28, 2000). "Boosler on Kaufman: Funny, Sweet, Bright". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  8. ^ Locker, Melissa (June 7, 2016). "12 of the Most Important, Groundbreaking, and Controversial Jokes Told by Female Comics". Elle. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Berger, Phil (July 29, 1984). "The New Comediennes". The New York Times. New York, New York, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ a b Handelm, David (November 3, 1988). "The Comedy Index: A roundup of the funny bizness". Rolling Stone. New York, New York, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Love, Matthew (February 14, 2017). "50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time". Rolling Stone. New York, New York, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  12. ^ a b "Groundbreaking women in American comedy". CNN. September 1, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  13. ^ a b c Rosenthal, David N. (February 13, 1979). "A New Funny Girl". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida, United States. The Associated Press. p. B3. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Jacobson, Mark (March 22, 1976). "Funny Girl: New, Hot, Hip". New York. Vol. 9, no. 12. New York, New York, United States: New York Media. p. 32. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "Sheepshead Bay High (SBHS) Class of 1969 Alumni List". sheepsheadbayhighschool.org. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  16. ^ Starr, Michael (March 1, 1991). "The head of the comedy class". Herald News. Woodland Park, New Jersey, United States. p. C6. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Standup comedy was something she "fell into backwards," Boosler said, after spending two years at the University of South Florida. "I was just waiting to turn 18 so I could move to Manhattan and be a waitress," she said.
  17. ^ a b c d Kohen, Yael (2012). "I Am Woman". We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 117. ISBN 9781466828117.
  18. ^ a b Liddick, Betty (August 7, 1977). "Women in Comedy: No Laughing Matter". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California, United States. p. V1. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Elayne Boosler is hot--white lightning streaking across the stage--a blaze of white teeth and shiny tan, blonde curls bouncing, the jokes coming pow-pow-pow...Elayne Boosler is the stand-up comedian club owners and other comedians predict will make it big. She plays local clubs, does opening acts for singers. She seems to combine the best of the old and new schools of comedy--fast one-liners with a feminist consciousness.
  19. ^ a b c d Quindlen, Anna (October 12, 1979). "Elayne Boosler Cuts Up at Pace". The New York Times. New York City, New York, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Boosler, Elayne (March 31, 2016). "The Comedian Who Changed My Life is Totie Fields". The Interrobang. Orange Pop Media. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  21. ^ a b c Kohen, Yael (February 5, 2016). "How Comedy Finally Caught Up to Female Comedians". Vulture. New York City, New York, United States: New York Media. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  22. ^ a b Wilshire, Carol (July 21, 1985). "Boosler 'a single woman talking about life'". The Sacramento Bee. Sacramento, California, United States. Encore 6. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Certainly having David Letterman on your side is nice," [Boosler] admitted, "Every time he guest-hosted, he put up a big battle to get me on . . . Finally, he said, look, 'I'm exhausted, I'm getting my own show. You'll be on that.'
  23. ^ Elayne Boosler Breaks the Comedy Mold (Television production). Larry King Live. CNN. October 5, 1987. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  24. ^ "Royal Variety Performance 1989, London Palladium". Royal Variety Charity. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  25. ^ 1993 White House Correspondents' Dinner (Television production). Washington, D.C., United States: C-SPAN. May 1, 1993. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  26. ^ "Past Productions: 1990–2000 Seasons". fords.org. Ford's Theatre. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  27. ^ a b c Florio, Angelica (July 16, 2018). "How This Influential Female Comic Completely Changed Robin Williams' Life". Bustle. New York City, New York, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  28. ^ Scott, Vernon (April 9, 1982). "'Shape of Things' breaks with tradition". Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts, United States. United Press International. p. 59. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ "Soundstage 9PM". The Daily Advertiser. Lafayette, Louisiana, United States. July 31, 1984. p. 20. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Andy Kaufman, the much-loved "Latka" of TAXI, spoofs a particular late night talk show with his own creation, "The Andy Kaufman Show." Elayne Boosler joins in the zany antics -- a hilarious performance!
  30. ^ a b Kishi, Russell (January 22, 1988). "ACE cable television awards to spotlight Elayne Boosler". UPI. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  31. ^ a b Baron, Neil (November 20, 2014). "Comedy shows: Elayne Boosler's act stands test of time". Reno Gazette Journal. Reno, Nevada, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  32. ^ White, Ray (January 19, 1982). "Comic a tested laugh maker on the comedy club circuit". The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, Florida, United States. KNT News Service. p. B2. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. Today, she is a veteran of six appearances on "The Tonight Show" and regular appearances on "The Merv Griffin Show," and she has appeared on a somewhat regular basis on "Hollywood Squares."
  33. ^ Christo, Lawrence (February 17, 1989). "Television Reviews : Elayne Boosler Makes Funny 'Call' on Cable". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  34. ^ Prescott, Jean (December 30, 1992). "Comic Elayne Boosler to ring in New Year's with own TV special". The Janesville Gazette. Janesville, Wisconsin, United States. Knight Ridder Tribune. p. 2C. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspaperarchive.com. "Elayne Boosler's Midnight Hour" will follow the classic variety-show format, quite a departure from the one-woman comedy specials Boosler's done for Showtime. And it will originate live from the stage of New York's Town Hall.
  35. ^ Hopkins, Tom (January 29, 1999). "Elayne Boosler plays it straight". Dayton Daily News. Dayton, Ohio, United States. p. 14. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. She was a Hollywood Squares regular for two years, appears often on ABC's Politically Incorrect and films comedic vignettes for NBC's Today show.
  36. ^ Nason, Pat (August 19, 2004). "Feature: Elayne Boosler's 'Balderdash'". UPI. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  37. ^ a b c d "Comedian Elayne Boosler to talk political humor, baseball and animals". The Union. Grass Valley, California United States. February 7, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  38. ^ Janofsky, Michael (August 31, 2003). "Political Points: The 2004 Campaign". New York Times. New York City, New York, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via ProQuest. Say what you will about the Rev. Al Sharpton's chances to win the Democratic presidential nomination, he continues to be a hit with debate crowds, as he was after arriving late to a recent forum. Bad luck for Mr. Sharpton that the moderator was Elayne Boosler, a comedian who refused to let him slide quietly into his seat. She guessed -- aloud -- that he did the man thing by refusing to ask for directions.
  39. ^ a b "Elayne Boosler". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. August 9, 2004. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  40. ^ a b Boosler, Elayne (November 1, 1984). "Andy". Esquire. New York City, New York, United states: Hearst Communications. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  41. ^ Boosler, Elayne (December 1, 2003). "There's plenty of life in the comic strips". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California, United States. p. E3. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  42. ^ Boosler, Elayne (May 1, 2018). "I Was a Correspondents' Dinner Comedian. Michelle Wolf Was No Bully". Time. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  43. ^ Boosler, Elayne (August 20, 2018). "Elayne Boosler: Saying 'joke' is no excuse for offensive behavior". CNN. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  44. ^ Farrow, Jeff (May 5, 2000). "News, current events keep Elayne Boosler's act fresh". The Modesto Bee. Modesto, California, United States. p. H7. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  45. ^ "Contributor Elayne Boosler". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  46. ^ a b "Glendale's season opener goes to the (rescue) dogs". Glendale Daily News. Glendale, Arizona, United States. October 4, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  47. ^ a b "CNN Collection: Elayne Boosler". collection.cnn.com. CNN. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  48. ^ Zager, Norma (November 10, 2005). "The Circuit: That's a WRRAP". Jewish Journal. Los Angeles, California, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  49. ^ "Tails of Joy". Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  50. ^ Lee, Luaine (October 15, 2004). "Boosler parlays standup into game-show gig". The Journal News. Hamilton, Ohio. Knight Ridder Tribune. p. D3. Retrieved March 23, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. A tireless animal activist, Boosler is married to music manager Bill Siddons, who once managed the Doors. About wedded bliss she shares her quirky point of view, "I never wanted to be married and still wouldn't be if he didn't insist. I'm much happier not being married. He said 'If I'm going to do this we have to be married. I don't want you to break up with me when I'm 90.
  51. ^ "Elayne Boosler – Party of One". Apple Music. 2019. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  52. ^ "Elayne Boosler – Broadway Baby". Apple Music. 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  53. ^ "Elayne Boosler – Top Tomata". Apple Music. 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  54. ^ "Elayne Boosler – Live Nude Girls". Apple Music. 2019. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  55. ^ "Elayne Boosler – 50/50 Club". Apple Music. 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  56. ^ Husband, Andrew (August 29, 2018). "Elayne Boosler Talks The 'Timeless' Appeal Of Comedy, Even The Sadder Parts". Forbes. Jersey City, New Jersey, United States. Retrieved March 23, 2022.

External links[edit]