As part of CBC Q’s Queens Of Comedy series, which has already featured some female greats like Roseanne Barr and Jane Lynch, host Jian Ghomeshi interviews Phyllis Diller about her fifty-year career and life since her retirement in 2003. The fact that Diller started stand-up in 1955 as a broke 37-year-old single mother of five tells you right there how hard-core the woman is going to be. By 1959, she was on The Tonight Show. That’s how it’s done. Some highlights include:
On her wardrobe: “I have a whole closet full of boas, and I don’t mean snakes..if I ever saw anything unusual, I bought it and wore it. I bought things a normal woman wouldn’t be caught dead in.”
On her gay and female fan base: “My first audience…were gay people, because they have a great sense of humor. They love comedy and they love to laugh. How do you think they got the word gay put on them? The second people were ladies, women, who just heard me say what they’d been thinking. Like bitching about ironing and housework and all that stuff. And that is comic.”
On the craft: “I never resented the stage. It’s the love of my life. I was born to do it. It was born with me, to be there all alone in that spot light, and that’s how it turned out. It was my dream, and I was happy.”
On how to survive a half-century of working in comedy: “I had a mental protection. I invented a white feather cape, mentally, and nothing ever penetrated.”
The rest can be heard on the Q’s Past Episodes, or on their podcast, and it is a delight.