Review: Fran Lebowitz in Conversation

By Veronica Saroli (ArtSci '14)
Staff Writer

In my room I have a corkboard where I collect articles about people I admire and respect. Side by side on this board are articles taken from the Globe and Mail about radio show host, Jian Ghomeshi and American satirist, Fran Lebowitz. To say I was elated when I heard that both Fran and Jian — as I call them in my fantasy world where we are friends — would be presenting a talk at Massey Hall would be an understatement. It was as if dopamine assaulted my brain and I blacked out from sheer ecstasy. Nonetheless, I emerged from this blackout with two tickets to Massey Hall’s Fran Lebowitz in Conversation earlier this month.

Lebowitz, a satirist with sharp wit has already established a comfortable rapport and mutual respect with Ghomeshi from past appearances on his show Q on CBC Radio One.

After I was seated, the conversation between the two cultural powerhouses began with questions about Lebowitz’s expulsion from her Episcopalian day school as a result of her overall bad influence. The evening then covered standard Lebowitz fare: issues with the youth (it’s the parental pedagogy); the recycling of culture and lack of ingenuity, sleep, t-shirts, smoking and politics.

Cultivators of good conversation, the rapport between Ghomeshi and Lebowitz was a pleasure to experience, touching upon intriguing issues while being punctured by amusing exchanges. To illustrate, Lebowitz is known for saying “your life story would not make a good book. Do not even try,” to which Ghomeshi dryly murmured something about his book 1982 being available for purchase downstairs.

There’s no doubt that Ghomeshi’s influence and skill as an interviewer elevated and exacted the direction of conversation; this was all the more evident when Lebowitz took questions from the crowd.

Lebowitz is a true orator and kept the question period tremendously entertaining.

It would be impossible to recreate the environment of awe and enjoyment of Massey hall that night, therefore the least I can do is attest to the pleasure of seeing a writer or performer in person and encourage you to pick up The Fran Lebowitz Reader, a compilation of Metropolitan Life and Social Studies, bodies of Lebowitz’s short stories.

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