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Elayne Boosler - saving animals through comedy

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We have legendary comedian Andy Kaufman to thank for convincing Elayne Boosler to enter the field of stand-up in the early 1970s after the two became close friends when they met at New York City’s Improvisation comedy club.

A veteran of seven cable comedy specials, Boosler was the first woman to land her own one-hour comedy special on cable when Showtime aired her self-financed “Party of One” in 1986. That show and three other classic Elayne Boosler comedy specials are included in her new box set “Timeless, as is her brand-new CD “The 50/50 Club,” recorded at venues around the country.

Boosler checked in with The Maine Edge to talk about how the new box set is helping to save the lives of animals around the world through her “Tails of Joy” not-for-profit animal rescue foundation.

The Maine Edge: Let me see if I understand this correctly. Your new box set sells on Amazon for $27.83. When people email you a copy of their receipt, you donate $25 to the animal rescue organization of the purchaser’s choice. You’re basically giving it away. Has your accountant told you that this might not be a great business plan?

Boosler: (laughing) Well, I never passed math in public school in Brooklyn. I just thought why not? Let’s give away some comedy and save the animals as well. It just seemed like such a win-win. We donate the $25 in the person’s name who bought the box set. We earmarked $25,000 for this project so it’s a special offer for the first thousand people to email us with a copy of their receipt. Just send it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it along with the name of the animal rescue organization that you would like to benefit and we will send you a return receipt from that organization to show that we made the donation in the purchaser’s name.

The Maine Edge: Your “Tails of Joy” organization raises funds for the neediest and smallest rescue organizations around the country and is one of the few foundations that gives 100 percent of every donation to the cause. It must feel good to know that you’ve helped rescue tens of thousands of homeless animals.

Boosler: Everything gets better when you’re saving lives. We have a gold seal of transparency from [charity assessment group] Charity Navigator which is a nice thing to have. I’ve been doing stand-up for 46 years, and when I started the rescue 20 years ago, it changed my entire relationship with my audience. It became so much deeper and so much more lovely and kinder and closer. The best thing you can do is give it all away. Just this morning, we made the payment to bring in eight dogs from Lebanon. I teamed up with a flight attendant to go back and forth. Six of the dogs have three legs each. We work pretty hard for these animals and it makes life worthwhile.

The Maine Edge: Inside the “Timeless” box set are four classic specials - “Party of One,” “Broadway Baby,” “Top Tomata” and “Live Nude Girls,” along with the new CD, “The 50/50 Club.” Could you tell me about the new show?

Boosler: The new album contains a lot of the act I’ve been doing around the country. I write every day and every show is a little bit different, but the new album is representative of a current set. It touches on pretty much everything that’s going on today and it’s funny. That’s all we need. If we don’t laugh now, I don’t know what’s going to happen to us.

The Maine Edge: Do you think laughter is still the best medicine?

Boosler: I do, but now that pot is legal in a lot of places, that’s been helping people too, although the gummy bears will kill you. They’re only an inch long but you’ve got to break them up in fours or you’ll die. Who knew Vinny in Brooklyn was a pharmacist?


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