Ten Minutes with Carol Leifer: Comedian suggests investing in Spandex

Comedian Carol Leifer has spent decades in comedy, writing for Seinfeld (she contributed to 75 episodes, including writing the famous "Marble Rye" episode), The Larry Sanders Show, Saturday Night Live and, of course, her own stand-up comedy shows. This year she wrote her first book, a memoir called, When You Lie About Your Age: The Terrorists Win.

It's a fun read and Leifer has a light touch with weighty topics like aging, religion and relationships. However, she doesn't write much about money and investing. So I followed up with a few questions:

Q: What is the biggest money mistake you ever made?

A: When I invested in the Pocket Bass Fisherman.

Q: What is the smartest money move you ever made?

A: You can never go wrong betting on Americans' bad eating habits. So I've made a ton investing in all fast food chains, while at the same time investing in Dockers, spandex, Spanx, and sweatpants. Basically, anything with an elastic waistband is a goldmine.

Q: I'm one of those very literal journalistic types. You didn't really invest in the Pocket Bass Fisherman, did you? Or invent a fast food and elastic waistband trade?

A: Ha! No, I made that stuff up.

Q: On a more serious note, in your book you write very touchingly about many things you learned from your father. What did you learn about money from him?

A: I remember when I had to break the news to my father that I wanted to become a stand-up comedian at the age of 21, I was so afraid of what his reaction would be. When I told him, he surprisingly immediately brightened and said, "That business is a lot of cash. And you can't beat cash, Carol!"

So I was always golden in his book. (And he also turned out to be right about the "cash" part).

Q: When you fell in love with a woman and started your now 12-year relationship, did that change your outlook on your personal finances at all?

A: Hell yeah! I immediately doubled my wardrobe, so I'm saving a ton of dough on clothes! Sharing toiletries, makeup . . . I'm making out like a banshee!! The only downside of a lesbian relationship, financially, is on Valentine's Day. Now it's TWO people who really care about this day.

Q: In your book, you seem pretty well-off. How does someone who started off doing open-mike nights make so much money working in comedy?

A: I have always had a great respect for money because I grew up with parents who lived during the Depression. My folks were always cutting corners.

I remember when I was growing up, to drink Tropicana orange juice was a luxury because we always had to drink frozen orange juice at home. My father would always say, "It's a quarter of the price, and it's the same thing!"

"No, Daddy Dearest, it's not the same thing. It's a glob of orange goo you mix with tap water that quickly becomes clumps of orange goo that refuse to have anything to do with said tap water!"

The same with TV Guide. We weren't allowed to buy it growing up because the newspaper had the TV listings for free.

So I have always been a money-saver as a result -- it's basically in my genes. Besides, to us Jews, the next pogrom could be right around the corner!

Q: Has this year's financial crisis caused you stress? What is your advice to people who are worried about it?

A: Drink more, worry less. (Let's just say I'm not performing at any upcoming AA conventions).

Q: You have seven dogs -- is that a big financial drain?

A: All our dogs are rescues and they mean so much to us, we give them the world. But dogs are so selfless and giving that I also have a higher respect for dogs than many people I know. I mean, a dog can lick his privates and yet not feel the need to post it on YouTube.

Q: What is your advice to young women who want to become comedians today?

A: I say, "Go for it." But women in the workplace still get a raw deal. A girlfriend of mine just got a new job and the first question her new boss asked her was if she could make a good cup of coffee. Pathetic, right? She stormed right out of that Starbucks.

Q: Your book is blurbed by the top comedians today -- Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Larry David. Who is the funniest comedian to hang out with?

A: Far be it from me to say who's the funniest of my famous comedian friends. But I sure do love to go out to dinner with them. There's an unwritten rule -- the comedian who makes the most money always picks up the check. So let's just say that when I dine with Seinfeld, Leno, or Chris Rock, Mommy always rides free!


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