Boston Herald
Friday, Feb.12 1999

Liebman breaks barriers


There are still too few women in stand-up to topple the comedy scene's boys' club rep, and it seems that too many female comics get by on self-effacing fat jokes. So it's encouraging to see the success of a smart, easygoing wit like Wendy Liebman.

Liebman- appearing at the Comedy Connection this weekend - maintains a safe distance from the kind of female aggression that makes male audiences wince, but not withstanding a few bits about her adventures in analysis, she plays less the neurotic female than the natured wiseguy. ("I like a man who cries…when I hit him.")

After six years of gigs on the local comedy circuit, she nailed a "Tonight" show slot, moved to Los Angeles, and is now a touring national talent with a lengthy resume of TV appearances. Liebman's aspirations continue to climb. "Originally, I got into stand-up to meet David Letterman," said the 37-year-old former Wellesley College psychology major, who does her sixth appearance on the Letterman show on Tuesday night. "Now my goal is to host the Oscars by the time I'm 45," she said, reasoning that is she keeps telling people about it, maybe it will actually happen.

It would certainly be refreshing to see Liebman up at the lectern after an era of Billy Crystal. With her likeable persona and trademark flair for the afterthought punchline ("I just broke up with my therapist…that was a Freudian slip. He broke up with me.") Liebman has become a subliminal sharpshooter in the tradition of her idols Paula Poundstone and Steven Wright.

But her relaxed delivery and audience rapport weren't mastered overnight. "I've gotten to the point where I'm just getting to the point where I'm comfortable, and I know I belong there (onstage)."

Along the way, she paid some dues. "I used to work 9 to 5 at Radcliffe and then race off in my car to gigs in Boston, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Worcester. I did gigs at bowling alleys in New Hampshire," she said, referring to the stand-up boom of the 80's when "they would put up a club anywhere-bowling alleys, Photomats…"

Liebman's first foray onto a club stage was at the old Stitches, when she was "pushed" on by a tipsy Jimmy Tingle. "Now she's the '60 Minutes (II)' guy-that's really wild. So maybe I'll get to do the Oscars after all."

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