Fran Lebowitz enchants Aranoff audiences

By Ethan Nichols, Staff Writer

Sardonic humorist and award-winning author Fran Lebowitz graced the stage at the Aronoff Center for the Arts with her classic and iconic uniform (though she hates it when you refer to it as such) of a crisp, blue button-down with cufflinks, a pinstripe blazer, cuffed jeans and leather boots. 

Lebowitz, known for her books Metropolitan Life and Social Studies, is frank and to the point. She never pulled a punch, from calling Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a “baby” and sharing her strong feelings on, well, everything.

Lebowitz ensnared the audience with her plain-spoken and unreserved talk, titled An Evening with Fran Lebowitz.

While Lebowitz is widely known as an author, she hasn’t published a book in nearly four decades. Her last piece, a children’s book titled Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas, is about a group of giant pandas who reside in New York City but desire to move to Paris. She joked that whenever she introduces people to her editor, he claims he has “the easiest job in town.”

“I have a hard time writing. Most writers have a hard time writing. I have a harder time than most because I’m lazier than most,” Lebowitz said.

“I would have made a perfect heiress. I enjoy lounging. And reading. The other problem I have is fear of writing. The act of writing puts you in confrontation with yourself, which is why I think writers assiduously avoid writing,” she added. 

This decades-long writer’s block, or a “blockade,” as Lebowitz referred to it, led her to pursue other projects to make ends meet. Lebowitz had a recurring role in Law & Order as Judge Janice Goldberg from 2001 to 2007; was the feature of Martin Scorsese’s documentary Public Speaking and the Netflix show Pretend It’s a City; appeared as a judge in Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street; and travels the country on speaking tours.

When Lebowitz remarked that she just hates to work, the audience applauded rather loudly. That’s a part of her down-to-earth charm that sets her audience at ease –– she manages to express what we all feel in some way or another. 

“I hate work. I hate all work. I have never had any work that I’ve enjoyed. I am by nature a sloth. I am really lazy, and I really don’t like to work,” she said, and we all clapped. And you know why? Because we all relate to the sentiment. Lebowitz manages to encapsulate the exhaustion all of us feel.

That’s exactly why such a large crowd came out at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday to sit for two hours listening to Lebowitz and why I waited in line for almost two hours to get my copy of The Fran Lebowitz Reader signed. 

She speaks directly to us: the people. She’s straight forward, she’s down to earth and most of all, she’s real. She’s one of the few social critics able to form real connections with her audience, even if she’s not speaking directly with them.