Betsy Borns

Stand-up comedy has become such a staple of American entertainment that we may forget that it was not that long ago that it was a more rarefied profession.

And we may also forget just how hard that profession is.

In the late 1980s, just a few years into the start of the stand up explosion, a young writer producer named Betsy Borns put together a book about stand up comedians and how they work.

Borns called her book Comic Lives.

So here now, from 1987, Betsy Borns.

After Comic Lives Betsy Borns went on to work in TV on Roseanne, Friends, and All of Us, among many other projects.

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Phyllis Diller

Like many of my fellow Baby Boomers, I grew up watching Phyllis Diller on TV and in movies. She was one of America’s first female stand-up comedians, inspiring the likes of Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, and Ellen DeGeneres, among others.

Photo: Allan Warren

Diller was known for her wild outfits, her even wilder hair, her self-deprecating humor, a cigarette always in a long holder, and her jokes about her long-suffering husband whom she nicknamed Fang.

Phyllis Diller wrote a memoir in 2005. She was too frail at that point, in her late 80s, to go on a book tour, so I interviewed her by phone.

So here now, from 2005, Phyllis Diller:

Phyllis Diller died in 2012. She was 95.