Childhood & Early Life
Elayne Boosler was born on August 18, 1952, in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish parents who had immigrated to the United States from Europe. Her father was of Russian descent, while her mother was Romanian. Elayne was the youngest child in the family and the only daughter of her parents.
Elayne’s parents worked as performing artists. Her father was an acrobat, and her mother was a ballerina. This led Elayne to become interested in artistic endeavors ever since she was a child. Growing up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, she attended local schools and became interested in performing arts, especially stand-up comedy.
However, in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the American comedy scene was not too kind toward female comedians. She was also a trained singer and dancer, which led her to begin her performing arts career after she graduated from the ‘Sheepshead Bay High School.’
Initially, she worked as a singer and dancer for many touring companies and also worked as a waitress. Back then, New York City had a flourishing comedy scene. Many of its comedy clubs were frequented by established comedians.
Andy Kaufman was one of the most celebrated American comedians, and he frequented a club named ‘The Improvisation.’ Elayne had been working as a doorman for the club for a couple of years. She met Andy, and they got along quite well. Andy pushed her to do stand-up comedy shows. Thus, Elayne began her full-fledged comedy career.
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She began her stand-up comedy career performing at a New York comedy club named ‘Improv.’ For the next few years, she performed successfully but never quite earned the attention of the major TV studios, as they did not want to hire women for their shows.
Most of the comics usually earned their own talk shows or sitcoms after a few years of success, but Elayne struggled a lot.
She, however, managed to get small parts in comedy films and TV series. In 1974, she made her TV debut with a small role (as herself) in the comedy series titled ‘The Dean Martin Comedy World.’ She then appeared in more small roles on TV shows such as ‘The Alan Hamel Show,’ ‘Break the Bank,’ and ‘Rock Concert.’
In the late 1970s, she appeared playing herself in seven episodes of the comedy series titled ‘The Hollywood Squares.’
She then made her film debut in 1984, with a small role of a mother in the comedy film titled ‘Meatballs Part II.’
However, things changed for her in the mid-1980s, when she finally got her own TV show, ‘Party of One,’ which was aired on ‘Showtime’ in 1986. It was, however, a half-success. The show’s producers told her that no one would pay to see a woman doing comedy. Thus, she had to save her own money to produce the show.
The show turned out to be a big success. She toured around the country for 50 weeks a year, and the show was eventually stretched to 2 hours. It was the first cable special in the history of American TV that had a woman as the central character.
Toward the late 1980s, she made several appearances, both in comedy specials and at award functions. Over the years, she has also gained a strong reputation as a writer and host. She has written and hosted many award functions, such as the ‘Pollstar Awards,’ the ‘Daytime Emmy Awards,’ and the ‘Writer’s Guild of America Awards.’.
Throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, she remained a successful comedian who delivered many hit TV shows. Some of her stand-up comedy concert specials that were televised were ‘Live Nude Girls,’ ‘Broadway Baby,’ and ‘Top Tomata.’ ‘Top Tomata’ not only earned her widespread acclaim but also won her the ‘Cable Guide Magazine Award’ for the “Best Comedy Special of the Year.”
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She also performed in a 90-minute-long comedy special titled ‘Elayne Boosler’s Midnight Hour,’ which was telecast live on ‘Showtime.’ It was live-streamed from New York’s ‘Town Hall.’
She has also worked for the cable TV network ‘Cinemax,’ writing, directing, and acting in two of their half-hour films, ‘The Call’ and ‘Comedy from Here.’
In addition, she has also been a guest host for several popular TV shows, such as ‘Comic Strip Live,’ ‘The Midnight Special,’ ‘The Late Show,’ ‘The Gossip Show,’ and ‘Friday Night Videos.’ She has also made guest appearances on shows such as ‘The Today Show,’ ‘Donny and Marie,’ and ‘Not Necessarily the News.’
She has also acted, mainly in small roles, in many TV series over the years. She has played guest roles on the shows ‘Night Court,’ ‘Living Single,’ ‘Dear John,’ and ‘The Cosby Show.’
She is also known as a voice actor and has lent her voice to many cartoon characters.
Her reputation has crossed the national borders. Her comedy specials were telecast on ‘BBC’ for many years. She has also performed live shows in the U.K.
she has also been part of a comedy special with Andy Kaufman, titled ‘Soundstage: Andy Kaufman.’ She also became the first comedian to receive the honor of performing at the ‘White House,’ when she was invited by Bill Clinton.
She has also been active politically. She is a hardcore liberal and supports women’s reproductive freedom. She has participated in political debates on ‘CNN’ and various other news channels.
She also works toward animal rescue around the world by helping small NGOs with their operations. She has also started her own NGO, ‘Tails of Joy.’