Fran Lebowitz is best known as an insightful social commentator, with essays and interviews offering her witty views on current events and the media. The New York Times Book Review called Lebowitz an “important humorist in the classic tradition.”
Recent pieces focus on her pet peeves, including tourists, baggage-claim areas, after-shave lotion, adults who roller skate, children who speak French, or anyone who is unduly tan.
Lebowitz on special interest groups: “Special-interest publications should realize that if they are attracting enough advertising and readers to make a profit, the interest is not so special.”
Lebowitz on frankness: “Spilling your guts is exactly as charming as it sounds.”
Lebowitz on herself: “Success didn’t spoil me, I’ve always been insufferable.”
Lebowitz worked odd jobs, such as taxi driving, belt peddling, and apartment cleaning, before being hired by Andy Warhol as a columnist for Interview. That was followed by a stint at Mademoiselle. Her first book, a collection of essays titled “Metropolitan Life,” was a bestseller, as was a second collection, “Social Studies.” By turns ironic, facetious, deadpan, sarcastic, wry, wisecracking, and waggish, Lebowitz’s prose is wickedly entertaining. Her two books are collected in “The Fran Lebowitz Reader,” with a new preface by the author. “The Fran Lebowitz Reader” has been published in nine languages including French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish. In 2021 it was published for the first time in the United Kingdom and became a bestseller. Lebowitz is also the author of the children’s book, “Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas.”
Between 2001 to 2007, Lebowitz had a recurring role as Judge Janice Goldberg on the television drama “Law & Order.” She also had a part in the Martin Scorsese-directed film, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013). A raconteur if ever there was one, Lebowitz has long been a regular on various talk shows including those hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, and Bill Maher. In an interview with the Paris Review, Lebowitz said “I’m not a nervous person. I’m not afraid to be on TV. I’m only afraid when I write. When I’m at my desk I feel like most people would feel if they went on TV.”
She can also be seen in various documentary films including the “American Experience” series on New York City, as well as “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures” (2016), “Regarding Susan Sontag” (2014), and “Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol” (1990), among others. In 2010 Martin Scorsese directed a documentary about Lebowitz for HBO titled “Public Speaking.” A limited documentary series, “Pretend It’s a City,” also directed by Martin Scorsese, premiered on Netflix in 2021, and was nominated for the 2021 Emmys in the Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Series category. In 2021 she was given the Forte dei Marmi Festival della Satira Lifetime Achievement Award and was a 2021 Foreign Press Honorary Awardee – an award given by the Foreign Press Correspondents Association & Club USA.
Lebowitz was named to Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 2008. She remains a style icon. Lebowitz lives in New York City, as she does not believe that she would be allowed to live anywhere else.
FOR MORE ABOUT FRAN LEBOWITZ:
A Q&A with Lebowitz
Fran Lebowitz will be at the Patchogue Theatre for a talk moderated by Susan Isaacs on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. Tickets, $59-$89, are on sale now.
During her upcoming event, she said, she will be on stage answering questions from an interviewer; then she will open questions up to the audience, without microphones, allowing for a more authentic conversation.
“I like to be surprised; it’s very entertaining. I really enjoy doing it,” she said of the upcoming event.
ADV: What is it like being on the big screen?
FL: “Wolf Wall Street,” I played a judge. I was also a judge in “Law and Order,” with a reoccurring role. I have only ever been a judge. I can’t act. I am naturally a judge. Believe me, I cannot act.
ADV: Can you talk a little about your books?
FL: Talking is easier. I have written three books and I should be working on another, many other ones; perhaps I will.
ADV: Where does your sense of humor come from?
FL: Sense of humor does not necessarily mean you are funny. Some people have zero sense of humor without any idea at all that things can be funny. If you have one, you’re lucky; otherwise, things are horrible.