Elayne Boosler may make you part of tonight's routine

June 08, 1993|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Be careful what you say if passed today by a 40ish female jogger with big glasses and slicked-back hair. Comedian Elayne Boosler may be out gathering material for her appearance in Baltimore tonight.

"I run everywhere and eavesdrop. It's the best way to see a city," says Ms. Boosler, who will perform her acutely observational brand of humor at 7:30 p.m. at the Beth Tfiloh Synagogue, in a benefit for the Beth Tfiloh Community School.

Familiar from a handful of one-woman Showtime cable specials, appearances on a variety of television shows ("Night Court," "The Cosby Show," "Sisters") and commercials, the comic likes to season her act with local lines, picked up the day she performs if possible.

"Really, I do jog and look for things, and then of course watch the news at 5 or 6," she said in a telephone interview last week.

Perhaps most recognizable to TV viewers for her big red hair, Ms. Boosler said she can easily pass unidentified in public by slicking back the hair and wearing the glasses she needs to see well.

"If I don't talk I'm safe. I can walk by somebody I've gone out with and they don't know me," she said.

Her goal is to come onstage with a line that addresses what people in her audience may have been chatting about while waiting for show time.

"It really happened about a week ago," she recalled. "This is old news now, but I was performing in Connecticut, and I had them hold the curtain for five minutes. So when I walked onstage I apologized for being late and said my plane had been delayed because some idiot was getting a $200 haircut on the runway."

Tonight, Ms. Boosler plans to deliver a line she has been saving for 19 years, because it works best in a synagogue audience and nowhere else. (It would not be fair to reveal it here. But have faith, it will get big laughs.)

Does she tailor her material to particular audiences?

"Yes. I think in this case I probably will be a lot more guilty during the show," she quipped.

But she quickly added that tonight's appearance is open to the general public, so her act will mostly stick to widely recognizable terrain.

"It's a good opportunity to pull out some of the material you don't get to do very often, to kind of go back into your past," she acknowledged.

She grew up in Brooklyn in a Jewish family but noted, "My family was totally non-religious. There was no question we were Jewish, but we were not observant."

Ms. Boosler's humor is distinctive for the fact that, while she has been called the leading female stand-up performer currently working, her material neither depends upon nor springs from gender.

"Funny is funny," she said succinctly, noting her fan mail is pretty evenly distributed between male and female admirers.

And writing and performing stand-up comedy remains her principal craft.

By contrast, her stage act can stretch out to two hours, drawing from a reserve of well-honed material -- she has been doing comedy since 1973 -- and responding to her audiences' reactions.

"And sometimes I just stay on for spite," she said with a big laugh, another trademark.


What: "Spotlight '93" benefit featuring comedian Elayne Boosler

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Beth Tfiloh Synagogue, 3300 Old Court Road, Pikesville

Tickets: $125 (includes reception after show), $50 and $90

Information: (410) 653-7284

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