The Comedian Who Changed My Life is a series where comics talk about, you guessed it, the comedian who changed their life.
This is Elayne Boosler and the comedian who changed my life was a great comic named Totie Fields even though I never met her. It was in the seventies and I was selling out all across the country and yet I could not get on the Tonight Show because Johnny hated women comics. And as good as I was they wouldn’t put me on and without it you couldn’t really get a raise in pay or get into Las Vegas or work the good jobs because it really was the only door open in show business in those days and it was closed to me and women. So, they did have guest hosts in those days and Helen Reddy was about to guest host. The LA times did a piece on new comedians and I was in it saying that ‘gee I can’t get on the tonight show.’ Totie Fields read it. She happened to be good friends with Helen Reddy. Helen read it and called Totie Fields and said ‘do you think I should put her on?’ Totie had never even seen me and said ‘I hear she’s great, put her on.” And she did put me on and it opened the door to every single thing in show business for me. So even though I had never even met Totie Fields, it was the most wonderful thing anyone could have done for a young comic.