Carl Kozlowski is the founder of www.radiotitans.com, and the host of its podcast, Kozversations, where he interviews top comics, actors, musicians, filmmakers and writers one on one about their careers. Recently he had comedian Wendy Liebman in to talk about comedy, including the story of her best gig ever, the comic who had the strongest influence on her early in her career, and how being on the receiving end of a DUI car wreck inspired her to audition for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.
Wendy Liebman studied psychology in college, and later performed psychology research at Harvard Medical School. But thankfully for laugh-starved Americans, she changed her career course and became a stand-up comic instead after taking a class in “How To Be A Stand-Up Comedian.”
That gamble has paid off with regular appearances with David Letterman, as well as spots with NBC’s “The Tonight Show” with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, as well as CBS’ “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” She pulled back from the spotlight for several years as she got married and became a stepmom, but a near-tragic car accident compelled her get back in the game full-force and audition for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” she told Carl Kozlowski on a recent episode of “Kozversations.”
“I met my husband when I was 38 and moved in a couple months later,” Liebman explained about her shift out of the limelight. “He had 50-50 custody and I helped raise them, so I didn’t want to go away that much. I went away once a month instead of every weekend. I never stopped, I just went from the fast lane to the breakdown lane.”
Liebman saw comics Taylor Williamson and Tom Cotter clean up on “AGT” and reached out to them. Both encouraged her to try it but, she says, “I had no delusions of winning. I just wanted the exposure and to meet Howard Stern.” She kept thinking about it into last fall, but wasn’t sure until a fateful night in December.
“My husband and I were driving back from Calabasas and were hit by a drunk driver in Tarzana, by a guy doing 90,” she recalls. “Seven cars were totaled, one woman died and she was in the car to my right. If she hadn’t been there, he would have hit us. My husband watched her die. It was a big wake up call. I sat at the bus stop waiting for chaos to subside. I knew then, my gift was to make people laugh and I had to go full throttle.”
She indeed went for it, burning past thousands of other “AGT” contestants before being voted out by viewers. But in what she calls a “surreal” turn of events, Howard Stern chose her as his wild card pick of an act to save from elimination.
“Maybe because I’m in my 50s, I went along for the ride and had a phenomenal time,” she says. “It’s a reality show, but it’s edited. I met the most amazing bunch of people and became friend with a guy who can walk on his hands. I can’t even walk in heels sometimes.”
Above all, Liebman feels that the benefit of doing “AGT” was that she started taking herself seriously, providing a confidence boost that has inspired her to try writing a musical about standup comedy with her musically talented husband Jeff Sherman, whose father and uncle were the famed songwriting team the Sherman Brothers of “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” fame.
“I said if I made it to the finals of ‘AGT’ I was gonna sing, so it was probably God watching out for me since I didn’t’ make it that far,” says Liebman. “It would have been a big funny song like Bette Midler sings and have dancers come out in the background. But I did the show so I could show my stepsons to get out of their comfort zone and challenge yourself every once in a while. I’d encourage anyone to try it.”
Pictured, Wendy Liebman with Carl Kozlowski (right), Wendy Liebman on America’s Got Talent (above)
Hear more of Liebmans extensive interview with “Kozversations,” here, at radiotitans.com. Find hundreds of other interviews with comedians, filmmakers, writers, musicians and more atwww.radiotitans.com. Dozens of “Kozversations” with major stars are downloadable from www.radiotitans.com.
Carl Kozlowski is the founder of www.radiotitans.com, and host of “The Koz Effect”, “Kozversations,” “Pajama Party” and “Grown Ass Men.” He is also a pro standup comic and the winner of the world-famous Laugh Factory’s “America’s Funniest Reporter” contest.