Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Carol Leifer

Carol Leifer is a four-time Emmy nominee for her writing on such shows as Seinfeld, Modern Family, Saturday Night Live, The Larry Sanders Show, and seven Academy Awards telecasts. She has starred in five of her own comedy specials, which have aired on Showtime, HBO, and Comedy Central. The author of When You Lie about Your Age, the Terrorists Win, Leifer's new book is How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying.

From her Q & A with Amanda Hess for Slate:

Slate: Three decades after you launched your standup career, you note in the book that women are still underrepresented and underpaid in comedy. Why do you think that is?

Carol Leifer: I think it’s just kind of everywhere, you know? Women are underrepresented across the board. It was true when I started out, and it’s still true now. I think we’re always going to be somewhat marginalized. People would always ask me, as a woman in comedy, “Isn’t it bad being marginalized? Doesn’t it suck to be part of the minority?” And I have to say, it isn’t that bad. It meant that I got onstage early in my career, because bookers were looking to check off the boxes: the ventriloquist, the singer, the woman comic. If they saw me as a specialty act, I’d take it, if that’s what gets me onstage. As a comic, it’s really just all about getting on.

Slate: Now that there are more women, do you think there’s a limit to the upside of being a novelty? Some places may want to check off the woman box, but that doesn’t mean they’d want two or three women onstage. A British comedian recently made news when she was dropped from the bill at a venue because she was told there were too many women on it.

Leifer: For women who came up in my standup generation, it meant that club owners got to see us, and the more they saw us, the more we were able to change the idea that our perspective was a niche. We were talking about things that 50 percent of the audience also experiences, but it wasn’t just for women—it wasn’t the type of “Am I right, ladies?” jokes where just women should pay attention while the men went off to pay the bill or get another drink. Women see life through a different prism, and that’s still new and different in comedy. My advice to women is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue