Carol Leifer tackles sexuality, religion and family with a humorous touch
“I’m getting a lot of ‘I laughed and I cried’ reactions,” Carol Leifer says about her new best-selling book, “When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win” (Ballantine). “I’m used to just getting the laughs.”
The well-known comedienne, a veteran writer for “Seinfeld” who’s made countless appearances on “Letterman,” “The Tonight Show,” “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” and “Conan O’Brien,” comes to the Boston Jewish Book Fair next week to read from her book and tell some jokes.
Maybe she can also try to explain how a middle-aged woman can suddenly realize that she’s a lesbian, needs to be bat miztvahed, and that she and her partner should adopt a son. Oh, and also decide it’s time to become a vegan.
Leifer is speaking on the phone from her home in the Santa Monica Hills. And, considering the title of her book, the first question for her is the obvious one: “How old are you?”
“Look,” she says with a laugh, “if you’re any kind of public person, there is the Internet, and you can’t lie about anything anyway. I’m 53, and even though as a younger person I was afraid of getting older, but the truth is I’ve had the greatest, most positive changes in my life in the past decade.
“When I was really young I used to imagine the year 2000, but it seemed so far away, and could not comprehend it,” she says. “The fact that I was going to be 44 then — that was too much. If anyone had told me that I’d be much more happy and fulfilled in my 50s than when I was 33, I wouldn’t have been able to understand that.”
The book’s 30-odd page-turning chapters draw a poignant but hilarious picture of a middle-aged Leifer, certain that her gay feelings need to be acted on, essaying the world of same-sex dating.
After some hilarious fits and starts, and several life lessons, Leifer finds herself in a committed relationship with commercial real estate developer Lori Wolf, and eventually the couple adopts a son, Bruno Leifer-Wolf, now 2. Along the way she and her partner reestablish their Jewish faith, which of course leads to many laughable interactions — religious and otherwise — with her parents (Leifer was raised as an Ashkenazi Jew on Long Island).
It’s not all fun and games, as Leifer eventually has to come to grips with the passing of her father, but she insists that “even though all this stuff is immensely personal, there’s always a light spin on heavier subjects. That’s my instinct, and it’s therapeutic for me.”
Everything is new for Leifer, but being the mother of a 2-year-old is perhaps more new than anything else. “We say that Bruno has two Jewish moms. I really don’t know that many people who are getting ‘AARP Magazine’ and ‘Parents Magazine’ at the same time. But it’s a wonderful experience. Lori is impossible not to love. All my friends were happy that I had found the one. Larry David says that I’m much more centered than when I was working on interesting projects.”
Speaking of which, Leifer is working on a Showtime pilot, a vehicle for Marlee Maitlin and Mario Cantone. But the first order of business is the book, which she is proud to point out has already achieved some success — “it is a best-seller”— and has the broad support of the nationwide Jewish Community Centers.