Fran Drescher and her enduringly recognizable New York accent are headlining a new Showtime comedy special called Funny Women Of A Certain Age. It’s a title that takes back ownership of assumptions about older women while Drescher and her cohorts — creator Carole Montgomery, Luenell, Lynne Koplitz, Kerri Louise and Vanessa Hollingshead — descend into a night of no-filter, outrageous comedy. Each of these ladies has experienced a full five decades on Earth, and they’ve got the life experience to show for it. Through their individual sets, they break down walls of sexism, including the notion that women simply aren’t funny, while earning rolling laughs along the way.
The Nanny star was gracious enough to talk with us about the special that was recorded in Brooklyn and reunites Montgomery with the cable network where she first graced TV screens (in Comedy Club All Stars 6). Naturally, Drescher also had plenty to say about multiple other topics that are near and dear to her. Those include her cancer charity, her wide-spanning career, and her thoughts on a reboot of the show that made her a household name.
Carole Montgomery created this special. How did you get involved?
You know, she asked me, and I said yes! I didn’t know her before, and nobody was really pushing me to say, “Oh, you gotta do this.” I just thought, “Oh, I should do it,” and it would be fun for me, and so I decided to do it, and it was fun, so I’m really glad that I did.
The sets are very raw, and I found that yours and Carole’s brands of rawness contrasted nicely. Carole goes scorched earth in general on ageism, and you get pretty personal.
She did her thing, and I did mine. I think that a lot of these women are used to playing late-night comedy clubs, and that’s a type of forum, but I like to keep my stories personal because, first of all, the audience knows who I am, and they know my brand of comedy. And I like to challenge myself to be funny while still being wholesome and self-deprecating.
You’ve been very open in the past (in your 2002 memoir) about traumas that you’ve suffered, including rape, long before the Weinstein and Louis C.K. bombshells sparked the #MeToo movement. Has this affected how you draw upon real-life experiences onstage?
I’ve always been an open book, so that’s not really gonna impact me. I like to be a “what you see is what you get” kind of person for the most part, and I like my comedy to be rooted in an authentic place. I don’t like putting other people down, I like putting myself down. I think that’s funny. It’s what works for me.
You’ve got a massively packed schedule these days.
Yeah, I just signed on to do an NBC pilot. I’m also going to be doing a daytime show for Bravo, and I’m developing and honing a standup act. Hotel Transylvania is going to do an episode 4 of the animated film series, and my organization, Cancer Schmancer, keeps me very busy. At this point, I might be interested in doing an updated version of The Nanny with a whole new cast — and writing and producing that, but it’s not something that I’m worried about or thinking about today. People seem to want it, yet this is not the time for it. I know that for sure.