Comedian Elayne Boosler on ‘Timeless’ Boxed Set, Tails Of Joy, and What’s Next
The first female to have her own one-hour comedy special on television, Elayne Boosler has always been an innovator. Beyond being a prolific stand-up comic and actress, Boosler has also been an active philanthropist, author and political activist. Simply put, she has remained busy for decades doing great projects that are meaningful to her.
The latest release from Elayne Boosler is “Timeless,” a boxed set that features her latest album, “The 50/50 Club.” I had the pleasure of speaking with her about “Timeless” and plenty more.
Jewish Journal: How long did you spend writing “The 50/50 Club?” Were you testing it on the road before filming the special?
Elayne Boosler: I don’t actually sit down and “write” my stage shows. I just read a lot all day, go onstage, talk about what stuck, what made an impression, and pieces of material kind of grow out of all that. You go on each night and they get honed. It’s very organic. I figure if something made an impression on me it probably resonated with the audience too, as I’m pretty average.
JJ: Your boxed set, “Timeless” — which includes “The 50/50 Club” — spans decades of your career. Did you always own the rights to some of your older specials? Or is that a more recent development?
EB: I’ve always owned my own shows because no one would hire me in the early days. When I finally found a way to pay for my first special myself — let’s just say nudity, drugs, modern art, oysters and a piano were involved — I licensed it instead of selling it. I didn’t know anything, it was a lucky happenstance. So when I continued to do specials, I made sure I always owned them myself. They’re mine! All mine!
JJ: “Timeless” promotion aside, what is coming up for you?
EB: I’m taking a break after 46 years of nonstop stand-up comedy on the road. “But I always wanted to see you live!” “You had 46 years to buy a ticket, b**ch, not my problem anymore.” I’m working on several books I have been writing for many years, and now I will be able to finish them. And of course I run Tails Of Joy (www.tailsofjoy.net), the nationwide, non-profit, all species of animal rescue I founded 20 years ago. That alone is a full-time job. And we’re all volunteer, nobody gets paid. A labor of love, heartbreak and poverty.
JJ: I have heard mixed reviews from comics that actually lived through that era. How do you feel about the show “I’m Dying Up Here?”
EB: The book the show is based on captured the overall “Mise–en-scène,” but the details were so strikingly inaccurate throughout, that for me and most of my comedian friends, it was a work of fiction. As for the TV show, I’m just happy when my friends get work.
JJ: Your husband Bill has managed some of the biggest names in rock history. Did you open for a lot of musicians way back when?
EB: Back in the day all comedians started out opening for music acts. It could be a blessing or a curse. Believe me, I wouldn’t want to have to sit through me if I was waiting for Lady Gaga to come out. But the good part was I got to see the greatest acts in the country for free every night.
JJ: So when not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
EB: I love writing, always considered that my job definition, so writing articles and continuing to work on the books is a joy for me. Animal rescue through the email rescue tree continues all day long; I spend half my day calling veterinarians all across the country, paying for dogs or cats that tiny rescue groups are bringing in, but can’t afford to pay for. That’s part of what Tails Of Joy does, keep the littlest guys from falling through the cracks.
My husband Bill has driven motorcycles his entire life— not Harleys, “Get a muffler!” — so we’ll take off on long weekend roundtrips. Sometimes all the way up to Monterey and back from Friday to Sunday, a bit rough on the body and the marriage. We just love taking off in the car and going, anywhere, without reservations, and seeing how it shakes out.
Even more challenging when you have two big dogs with you, but it’s accounted for some of the funniest stories ever. Or we’ll take the dogs to Malibu and I’ll watch Bill surf, the dogs will swim out and he’ll ride them back on the board. We are the oldest hipsters out there. I wanna be me when I grow up.
JJ: Is there something you wish more people knew about Elayne Boosler?
EB: I think you all know enough.
JJ: How did you first get involved with the world of animal rescue?
EB: Everyone loves animals. I always knew one day I would find the best way to help within my abilities. It’s really deepened my bond with the audience, taking it from having comedy fans to having a deep connection based on our love of saving strays and animals’ lives.
People can ask for and get help when they need it, animals have no chance if not for us. And every time we save an animal we’re helping a person, or a family, too. Animals bring out the compassion in a society, without that we are doomed to savagery, so it’s an important thing to nurture.
JJ: Finally, Elayne, any last words for the kids?
EB: Everyone says to me, “When I get time and/or money I want to help save animals, too.” Listen, you do not have to wait. Just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Amazon has a charity program. If you shop at Amazon, start at smile.amazon.com. Choose “Tails Of Joy, Studio City” as your chosen charity, bookmark it, start there every time, and Amazon will donate a portion of your shopping to us every time you shop. You don’t have to do anything else and it costs you nothing.
Do you know how important that one thing is to us? If everyone reading this does that, I guarantee you we can save a thousand more homeless and desperate dogs, cats, bunnies, chimps, injured wildlife and sea life, etc. etc. this year, and you can read all about our wonderful work on our website, www.tailsofjoy.net. Just do that and you’ll truly be a rescuer.
More on Elayne Boosler, including tour dates and information on her books, can be found online at www.elayneboosler.com.