Funny Lady Fran Lebowitz

February 15, 2013 | Alyson

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Fran_lebowitz_in_public_speaking-460x307Last Friday I thumbed my nose at the weather and trudged through the snow to hear professional wit, Fran Lebowitz at Massey Hall.

She was herself - deadpan, funny, frank and unafraid of swimming against the tide of popular opinion. No one was disappointed.

She's often compared to Dorothy Parker, another witty, clever woman. I expect Fran Lebowitz is a happier person than Dorothy Parker was, but they both describe modern urban living with a wry sense of humour.

She spoke a lot about her beloved New York which, she laments, has become a suburb by which she means there are too many strollers (a loaded word in Toronto these days) with children so big their feet drag on the pavement.  "A child in a stroller who is texting is a child who should be walking."

Although she describes herself as the most slothful person alive, she does have a dream job. She would dearly love to be on the United States Supreme Court - the gavel, the gown, the high bench looking down over everyone, the ability to judge others. It's a little-known fact, says Lebowitz, that one need not be a lawyer to be appointed to the Supreme Court which is perfect for her, as she fittingly points out, "because I'm already not a lawyer."

At the age of 62 she says she knows everything. It's the one advantage of being old. When the Fran-cig-261x300interviewer, Jian Ghomeshi, challenged her on this, she clarified. She doesn't know all the facts in the world but she does have a firm knowledge of all "human things,"  which means, when someone asks, "I wonder why on earth he did that?", she can nod and say, "I know why."

Martin Scorsese recently made a film about Fran Lebowitz called Public Speaking.  Borrow it from the library and see for yourself.

Lebowitz took questions from the audience at Massey Hall, and when someone asked her what she liked to read, she agreed that Alice Munro was a wonderful writer of short stories, but it was Mavis Gallant who was the real mistress of the genre.

More of a talker than a writer (two books in thirty years is less than prolific - three if you count her children's book), she may be the only author who is well-known for a book that she hasn't even finished writing yet.  She calls her infamous lack of output "writer's blockade."  That's too bad for us, but not tragic, since Toronto Public Library does own her entire oeuvre. 

It's cold and grey out there. Read some Fran Lebowitz.

        Metropolitan Life           Social studies          Fran lebowitz reader

(The Fran Lebowitz Reader is, in fact, Metropolitan Life and Social Studies in one volume.)


Or some Dorothy Parker.

                     Portable Dorothy Parker                 Essential Parker

              The Portable Dorthy Parker           Essential Parker