Illustrated Comediennes of the Stand-Up Boom: Elayne Boosler

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Between 1978 and 1988, over 300 comedy clubs with names like “Chucklehead’s” and “The Ha Ha Hut” sprung up across the US, ushering in an era saturated with stand-up comedy. Shortly after, pay-cable came to prominence and began augmenting their normally scheduled soft-core pornography and repeated showing of shitty horror movie Cat’s Eye with stand-up showcases. Dyna Moe watched every one of them and presents a small tribute of the comediennes of the boom era of the 80s-early 90s.

Despite appearing on national television since the late 70s, no producer would bankroll Elayne Boosler’s first cable special, telling her no audience would watch a hour of a female comic. She produced Party of One herself, it was a critical hit, and Showtime signed her to do three more. In response, HBO created the “Women of the Night” showcases for female standup that gave tons of now-famous lady comics early exposure (including all the rest in this series).

Relevant Specials: Party of One, Top Tomata, Broadway Baby… (she did a ton of them)

Mode of Dress: Kind of the archetype of “Female Stand-up” — button down shirt, jeans/slacks, a blazer rolled up to the elbows or embellished vest. Desexualizing, yet casual!

Sample Joke: People lose their senses at the beach ‘cause the sun beats down too hard. They say things that just don’t get, you know. Well, you’ve heard this a lot: “Pick up a shell — oh, you can hear the ocean!” You could pick up a bicycle and hear the ocean — you’re at the beach. Put the shell down, you’ll hear the ocean twice as loud.

Commercial Endorsements: Fantastik, Dry Idea deodorant

Trivia: She got started in comedy working the door at NY comedy club the Improv where she met and dated Andy Kaufman, who told her to try stand-up.

Today: Writing for HuffPo and working with animal rescue organization Tails of Joy. Sadly, hair now straightened. Her website is here.

Bonus Video: Singing atop the Doodlebug at the 1993 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

Dyna Moe is a NY-based illustrator and non-practicing comic. Her book, Mad Men: The Illustrated World, was the #1 Christmas gift to give people you know nothing about except a TV show you heard they watched a little bit of. Follow her on Twitter here.