I met Anna Lefler via twitter and she’s been making me laugh ever since. Anna is a mother of two. “My daughter ‘Morticia’ is 11 and my son ‘Gomez’ is about to turn 10. They’re 17 months apart. We tried to have them even closer together because it’s tough to find parking at Cedars-Sinai and I was hoping not to have to move the car between deliveries.” In addition she is a novelist, stand-up comedienne (I have always wanted to do this), blogger and all around hoot.
Do you work from home or do you have a “regular” job?
I work from home (as opposed to “at” home, which would imply – incorrectly – that my house is clean). I’ve been fortunate to be able to stay home with the children, and that’s where my office is. I do everything from that desk. If I could cook dinner from there, I would. It’s a holdover from my years in public relations/corporate communications when I was single and my office was my epicenter.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut. (Shut up! I wanted to be an astronaut!) No, seriously. I wrote away to NASA and they sent me a bunch of 8 X 10 glossies of rockets from the Apollo program – photos of launches and those massive treaded movers they used to roll the rockets out to the launch pad. I put them up on my bedroom wall and studied them. I wanted to fly jets, be a test pilot, and then transition into the space program. I also wanted to be Carol Burnett. Naturally, these desires led me to PR, the obvious next step.
How did you get into stand-up?
I had heard from people all my life that I was funny and that I should do stand-up, but I disregarded it. I just didn’t see myself that way – as an official performer. I was unofficially funny at a meeting or at the reception table at someone’s wedding, but the idea of formalizing that into a “set” seemed far-fetched. Forces converged, however, and in a weak moment I enrolled in a class here in
In which venue do you feel the most freedom? Writing, blogging, stand-up?
Blogging for sure. I go wherever I want on the blog. The only restrictions I place on myself are that I adhere to broadcast standards for language and adult content and that I’m never mean-spirited. Other than that, I let myself be as goofy, demented and free form as I like. It’s huge fun for me to let go like that. Stand-up is more restricted for me, but I think that’s a function of my personality. My sets are carefully constructed, timed and rehearsed. I admire comics who can get up and just rip it, flow with the crowd and switch up material as it occurs to them. I’m not that girl. Writing novels is a fascinating mix for me. There’s the restriction of the novel form, with its rules and obligations, but this form also gives me the most freedom – the luxury of time – to go deep and really dig at something, whether it’s painful or enlightening or funny or whatever. It’s just a bigger commitment since novels are long-term projects. I like to think that all three forms deliver truth – but at different depths.
How is your writing process different for each venue?
Writing for the blog and stand-up are similar in that I’m always on the lookout for that nugget of something that cracks me up – something I can expand into a bit or a post. I always carry a tiny notebook and it’s littered with little scribbles and shreds of ideas. The composing always happens at the computer. I have a mic and a stand in my office (I don’t plug the mic into an amp – I’m not a complete weirdo) and once I’ve written a stand-up bit, I work through it out loud. There’s always a lot of fine tuning at that point. The novel writing can happen anywhere, for the most part. I have favorite restaurants and coffee shops where I like to camp out. Now that we have dogs, I work at home more often so I can hang out with them. For me, the blog and stand-up are sprints – bursts of creative ideas that stand alone. Novels are marathons and I need to have a regular, steady rhythm – ideally every day – to stay in the flow of the story.
What has been the most difficult struggle for you as a writer/comedian/mother?
BALANCE. Finding balance among my roles, responsibilities and dreams. My family has been amazingly supportive of every path I’ve taken. I still feel terribly guilty sometimes, though, when I realize I’ve dropped a ball or forgotten something because I was engrossed in work. I don’t know if there’s any finish line on that, though. There seems to be an ebb and flow and I try to be aware and make sure everyone is getting what they need, day by day. I also incorporate gratitude into every day. To me, that’s an important part of striving to achieve balance.
Why do you blog?
I started blogging as a way of sticking my toe in the water and seeing how (and if) people would react to my written humor. I wanted to create an online environment and see if folks would want to hang out there. That was a year and a half ago. What came flowing back to me was warmth, kinship and lots of laughs. I’ve found blogging to be the perfect companion to the solitude of novel-writing. There’s a whole world of people out there I’m proud to call friends. We watch out for one another and cheer each other on. And when I hear from someone I don’t even know that they were having a tough day and something I wrote made them laugh out loud, well, that’s magical to me. That’s an honor.
How did you get involved with BlogHer? What are you speaking about this year? Will you be attending other events at the conference as well?
I joined BlogHer shortly after launching my blog. Last year, I was invited by the very funny Jessica Bern of bernthis.com to be on a Room of Your Own panel on humor-writing at BlogHer’s national conference in
Tell us about your current projects.
I’m working on my second novel right now, and having a great time with it. All I can divulge at this point is that it’s set here in
Bonus Question: In my extensive cyber-stalking (air quotes *research*) I watched this YouTube video of you doing stand-up. I laughed hysterically at your bit about the Mommy tattoos. If you had to get a tattoo, what would you get?
I would get one on my forearm that read, “Pick up dry cleaning.”
(I almost fell off my couch when I read this because I realized had forgotten to pick up my dry cleaning. Anna is funny and smart. If I had that tattoo my husband wouldn’t have been faced with either wearing a Corona t-shirt to church or going to work.)