I was sitting in Nora’s living room, four months ago, scarfing down some incredible butter cookies while she made a game-changing phone call that would bump up my career a good five notches. Part Jewish mother, part agent, Nora had invited me over after seeing some of my comedy music videos on Youtube sent by a mutual friend, and here I was being fed, mentored and charmed by a woman I had been impressed with since I was 21 starting with “When Harry Met Sally.”
One of the best at self-deprecating humor, I owe her a lot. A career like mine built on feminism, self-awareness, gender-based comedy and hopefully some brazen pluckiness knows the debt we all share to Nora.
When I got to her apartment, we sat down and she immediately skipped the small talk and went right for the tell-me-how-I-can-help bit. Immediately she knew who to connect me with (my new manager) and where I should bring my show next: to one of New York’s greatest cabarets, Joe’s Pub. But most importantly, she connected me with like-minded funny feminists, helping me create a family in my new-found home of New York.
It’s hard to explain what 30 minutes out of the life of someone like Nora means. There was absolutely nothing in it for her. She liked my work, sure, but more than that, she knew how women have to help each other. Boys still have boys clubs and theatre and film and writing are welcoming to women in lots of ways today, but there are still doors that are closed. She knew this.
When you read her life story (and here’s a good one: http://nyti.ms/LeFral), it’s amazing to see how prolific she was, but the personal edge to everything is what inspires me. “Everything is copy,” she mother, a writer, said, though Nora was careful not to write about her children in as exposing a way as her mother had done with her. It’s a hard balance when you have the over-sharing instinct. My mother, columnist Ellen Goodman, took the kind path and always asked my permission. I fear my son will hate me for a few things I’ve written, though I will certainly deny it was about him. And, okay, I’ll pay for therapy. I’ve started a fund.
In my first lunch with my new manager, we talked about Nora. There were so many things to be impressed by. And I will add into the mix a totally superficial compliment: there is NO reason for that woman to feel bad about her neck. If I look like her at 61 the way she looked at 71, I will be thrilled. But, of course, more importantly, if I am still that damn insightful and funny and — most of all — quick, it will be a miracle.