Anna Lefler/Humorist: The Interview

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ever since bursting onto the scene with her consistently brilliant humor blog, Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder, Anna Lefler has shaken the whole ‘net up like the one-woman show that she is. Awards have come her way, awards by the wagon load. Invitations to speak. Legions upon legions of commentators—dueling commentators, even, all seeking to do justice to Anna’s posts. And all the while, Anna hides behind her mustache (is that mustache a meme? is it a style?), never letting her humor run dry. On Mondays and Thursdays, reliably, she ushers her boredom-shucked fans straight out to the edge of hysteria. She leaves us gasping for air, and grateful.

Wondering how she does all that? Indeed. So was I.

Anna, your brand of humor transcends. It’s edgy but never unkind. It’s bold yet hardly brassy. It’s painfully honest and, nevertheless, it makes us deliriously happy. Comedy, you once reminded me, equals tragedy + time. But at what point in your life did you begin to understand that the very thing that hurts us most can also be thing that redeems us?

I think the first unarticulated inklings were in junior high, a very tough time for me during which I relied heavily on making people laugh in order to ease the pain of feeling like an outsider. I’ve gained a deeper understanding in the last few years by doing stand-up and by devoting myself to writing, both humorous and otherwise. I’m fascinated by that shore where comedy laps over mishap and pain. That contact point is very powerful.

What was your first true moment as a comedienne?

I would say my first stand-up show. I have a flashbulb memory of waiting in the wings as the MC introduced me and feeling that many roads had converged to carry me to that place. Then, a few moments later, the memory follows of looking out into the audience and seeing strangers laughing, pounding the tables. That was magical and true.

You’ve done stand-up. You’ve entertained crowds. You’re quick as a whip with this odd saying, that perfectly bizarre but fitting analogy. (Plus you have a dedicated kick boxer’s arms and still, we love you. Still.) How does the funny demanded by stand-up differ from the funny inherent in a successful humor blog?

I think stand-up invites a certain outrageousness and physicality that goes along with having a handful of minutes on a live stage. Every second counts and the material must be condensed to maximize the number of laughs generated in a small time slot. On the humor blog, the humor lives or dies on the silent page - you’re not there to deliver the material with your voice and body. This is demanding in a different way, but the nice thing is there’s no clock running, so you can take the time to build the more delicate connections and surprises that would not have enough impact in a live club performance.

Your blog requires you to be a techno-genius—a bad photographer on a good day, a stage designer, a montage queen, a caricature artiste. How, Anna? How have you acquired all those skills? How much time do you spend fashioning a blog post?

I love doing things with my hands. I feel my way along and experiment to realize something I’ve imagined. My tools are probably pretty crude (I don’t know PhotoShop, for instance). The posts that rely on visuals for laughs tend to come together pretty quickly, because once I know the concept, I just run around the house and set up the shots and, when necessary, enlist my children as grips.

You live in southern California, but you dream of Texas-sized storms and smoked-up cowboys. You’ve herded cattle and marched flashy suits (and killer shoes) down the halls of corporate America. You’ve got more degrees than I have eye shadow colors (okay, so I only have two). What about the life you are now living surprises you most of all?

What surprises me most is that I still feel in many ways like the goofball I was when I was young – wearing my gym shorts on my head for a laugh or smearing my face against a sliding glass door to entertain the people inside. I thought I’d grow out of all that, but apparently not – she’s alive and well inside me. I expect every day to be busted for impersonating an adult.

You call your husband Jon Bon Jovi, your daughter Morticia, and your son Gomez. You are a collector of nicknames, obviously. What is the most telling nickname that has been bestowed on you, and who bestowed it?

My husband will call me “Sally,” as in the Peanuts character. It started years ago when we were watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” and Sally was on this tirade against Linus because she’d missed tricks or treats to sit out all night with him waiting for the Great Pumpkin (who never arrived). She felt so wronged, so misled. “I demand restitution!” she yelled, pounding her fist into her hand. Jon Bon Jovi turned and pointed at me with this look of revelation on his face and said, “You’re Sally!” Apparently, certain parties think I can get worked up about things at times. They may be on to something with that.

42 comments:

Anna Lefler said...

I'm so honored to be here, Beth! Truly.

XO

Anna

Florinda said...

I've had the pleasure of meeting Anna in person, and I've really enjoyed seeing her blog take off. Thanks for a great interview!

Terry Hoffmann said...

"You’re quick as a whip with this odd saying..." Indeed, I have so many odd sayings stuck in my head thanks to Anna. They randomly float through my mind and make me laugh months and even years later.
I don't know where she gets them. Loved the interview.

The Rambler said...

I just heart Anna!

Great interview and glad to 'know' her on the blognet :)

Not The Rockefellers said...

Anna, this was great and I so understand that insane desire to make people laugh.

Thanks.

Peace - Rene

DiPaola Momma said...

Oh I'm so envious Florinda.. I'm a hopeless Anna-fanna!

Thanks for the interview and ..I'll be back...

HappyHourSue said...

Anna is the Funniest In The Land. I read her posts with a mixture of glee and envy. Word.

Anna said...

I just recently discovered Anna and absolutely love her blog! She is a very, very funny lady.

rightonmom said...

What she does obviously takes work, but like the talent she is, she does it well and makes it look so simple. Keep us laughing!

Thanks for an insightful interview.

Beth Kephart said...

Well, ladies.

What an honor to have you all here, in honor of The One and Only.

Thank you.

(We'll have to do this more often.)

bb mcclain said...

I've been reading LJKGW for a few months. Belly laughs on occasion. I'm never disappointed.

Jeanne said...

What I enjoy the most about Anna's blog is that it's good, good writing.

Gladys said...

Ain't she a scream??? I loved your questions and her answers. I'm also looking forward to reading your book.

Fragrant Liar said...

I, too, love Anna's blog, and to see a little more of her, her more serious side, in your interview was nice. Now I'll go back to her crazy blog and do some giggling.

blognut said...

Yay! It's fun to learn more about the genius behind the blog. Great stuff!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I love the interview and seeeing another side of Anna. Her voice in the interview is similar to the sweetness and honesty that shows when she comments on blogs.

I also think she might treat us to a phot of her with the underwear on her head one day.

Vivian said...

Wonderful interview! I'm all jealous I didn't think of Jon Bon Jovi...Love how the nickname Sally came about.

Thanks for sharing this. Anna cracks me up and it's very cool to know more about her.

Lenore said...

Enjoyed this. Whenever someone brings up nicknames I have to think of Sawyer on LOST. He gives nicknames to everyone.

Beth Kephart said...

You know what?

I like Anna's friends...... But then again, I knew I would.

:)

b

Beth Kephart said...

And Vivian and Lenore,

I love, so much, that you are both so often here.

b

Lea Ann said...

Thanks for the behind-the-scenes Anna. She is milk-shoots-out-your-nose funny and Lord knows we can all use more of that!

lisa said...

Please don't be jealous of me, but I get to see Anna every single week, which is a great thrill for me and the other writers in our midst. She really is as brilliant in person as she is on her blog. And her shoes are always amazing. We're still getting used to the moustache, though.

Beth Kephart said...

Ah, Lisa, I forgive you. But: Could you send me a photo of her shoe closet? Should that be shoe closet(s)?

Lee Ann. Yup. We need more funny (and good).

Lisa said...

I recently found Anna's blog through a mutual blogpal. It's a great place to visit!

Renee said...

You have a wonderful blog here and I am glad I visited.

I must admit I came to see what Anna had to say because I LOVE HER. She is laugh therapy for me.

Thank you.

Renee

Maya Ganesan said...

I love this interview. So much.

Tessa said...

Anna sets the fuse and laughter showers the globe with bright sizzles and pops. A brilliant interview and an insight into a lady who is surely a comic genius. And I don't say that disingenuously - I really mean it. She is singular.

bfs ~ "Mimi" said...

What a great interview!

Thing about Anna is, she has even made my Hubby Man laugh, and that is amazing (he's pretty stoic) -- but her post about technology (wires in the closet) really brought forth a big guffaw from his belly! ;-)

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

What a great interview, Beth. I am honored to know Anna IRL (although we met blogging), and I can tell you, that woman is going places. And she's speeding. So if you see her on the road, just pull over and let her by. You'll thank me for saving your life.

- Margaret

WheresMyAngels said...

I love her blog and wish I had more time to visit it, but my three girls have overtaken my putor except late at night!

Kalei said...

great interview.....Anna is a wonderful comedienne, writer, and even photographer....=)

Beth said...

Great interview! And I love reading Anna's blog. She has an amazing sense of humor.

Vodka Mom said...

I adore Anna, and always know that she will make me laugh. She's not only funny, however, but a truly generous and caring blogger friend.

Now, someone said there would be cocktails here. Where's the waitress??????

Beth Kephart said...

Many thanks to you all who stopped by to see The Unveiling (we'll call it) today. It appears that cocktails were promised somewhere along the way, and that Vodka Mom seeks out a waitress

Vodka Mom, I'm a damn fine waitress. I do the cooking, too.

Hairline Fracture said...

I'm even more impressed with Anna now. Great interview!

bernthis said...

i"m starting to wonder if that mustache isn't real. Great interview

Belle said...

Brilliant questions.
I enjoyed the post.

Jo Sutton said...

It takes a pretty intriguing moment to pull me onto a blog or anything that requires me to wait for another URL to link me anywhere.... I'm too busy... but dang it Anna, I'd follow you all the way to the bathroom... and I have. Incidently, she made me laugh right next to her in the dang stall, she can let go and let God, so to speak. I too, have the privilege of sitting with her every week, on a couch, that is, and listening to her pearls and tickles and hints into the depths of her psyche, it is my pleasure entirely.... xoxoxo

Jo Sutton said...

It takes a pretty intriguing moment to pull me onto a blog or anything that requires me to wait for another URL to link me anywhere.... I'm too busy... but dang it Anna, I'd follow you all the way to the bathroom... and I have. Incidently, she made me laugh right next to her in the dang stall, she can let go and let God, so to speak. I too, have the privilege of sitting with her every week, on a couch, that is, and listening to her pearls and tickles and hints into the depths of her psyche, it is my pleasure entirely.... xoxoxo Jo-e

Blicky Kitty said...

What a great interview and I looking forward to poking around on this blog. Anna as always is a total rock star... She's such a generous and nice blogger you can't hate on her for being so pretty and funny.

sherri said...

Great to read this "non-silly interview" as her link put it, love Anna, she's hi-larious.

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