Fran Lebowitz is famously grumpy. In public appearances and in both a TV movie and a Netflix show directed by Martin Scorsese, the author and wit wields the power of withering disdain like it was a superpower. So when Bowen Yang, he of outside-the-box Weekend Update ideas, learned that she was not that into the impersonation he did of her on SNL earlier this year, he wasn’t upset. He saw it as a win.
Back in January — when Scorsese’s Pretend It’s a City, which let Lebowitz yap over seven episodes, dropped on the streamer — Yang appeared on Weekend Update, doing his best take on the beloved public speaker. (Opposite him was Kyle Mooney, busting out a motormouthed impersonation of her legendary filmmaker, who spent much of the series laughing uproariously at her quips.) The bit may have brought more attention to Lebowitz, more of a cult figure, than she’s ever had before.
But she didn’t seem to be amused. When asked about it by the Los Angeles Times, Lebowitz seemed to write it off. “People started calling me because they saw it. I would not have watched it even if I knew,” she told them. “I said, ‘If you’ve never had a caricature drawn of you, you might think this is a great thing [to be parodied] — but no one likes them.'”
It seems to be more of a blanket dismissal of impersonations than any animosity specifically directed at Yang. Whatever the case, Yang loved it.
“That’s confirmation that she’s seen it and that she doesn’t care for it, and I think that’s the highest compliment you could possibly get from someone like Fran,” Yang told Seth Meyers on Late Night.
Meyers agreed. “I think that if Fran Lebowitz said, ‘Oh my God, I loved it, and it’s so cool to be on SNL!’ it would just ruin everything,” the host told Yang.
“Absolutely. So I wear it as a badge of honor that she did not like my portrayal of her,” Yang said. “I probably wouldn’t either, if someone who was so demographically opposite of me, portrayed me. I’d be like, ‘Come on!'”
So to sum up, if you’re ever get successful enough to get dissed by Fran Lebowitz, flaunt it, baby.
You can watch Yang’s Late Night appearance in the video above. And you can watch the offending sketch below.