4 Takeaways From Fran Lebowitz’s Milwaukee Performance

The humorist came to the Pabst Theater on Thursday, Nov. 10 to answer questions from fans and spectators.  

1. Her Drink “Allotment” Ran Up a While Ago 

Fran Lebowitz at the Pabst Theater; Photo by @lightfinderpr

Fran Lebowitz hasn’t had a drink in nearly 55 years. “I believe everyone has a limited drink allotment in their lives,” says Lebowitz. “Most use theirs between the ages of 21 and 99. I used mine between 15 and 19.” While she has no plans on breaking her decades-long sobriety, she mentioned that in a dire situation she would indulge in a drink. While on a particularly turbulent flight to San Francisco a stewardess asked her if she’d care for a drink. “I asked, ‘is the plane going to land?’” the stewardess asked why she would ask such a question. “It affected my answer,” explains Lebowitz. “If we aren’t going to land, I will take a double scotch. If we are going to land, I’m okay, thank you.” 

 2. She Loves Her Checker Car That She Doesn’t Drive 

Checker Cars, an iconic vintage model of car used most commonly as cabs and taxis, originated in the 1920s. The cars featured an organic but boxy frame with wide rear doors, large rear seats and trunks, and jump seats for 2 extra passengers. While the cars were primarily used as cabs, Lebowitz bought herself a light-gray Checker in 1979 with an advance from her first book. Forty-three years later, she still owns and loves the car. “People wonder how I keep the car maintained through the years,” says Lebowitz. “I just pour money into it.” While she no longer drives the car, she still holds on to it as it is “the only monogamous relationship I’ve had in my life.” The model of car is so iconic in New York City (think of David Johansen driving the cab in the movie “Scrooged”) that Lebowitz once called it a “quintessential New York artifact.”

Fran Lebowitz at the Pabst Theater; Photo by Harrison Dilts

3. She Misses Her Friend Toni Morrison  

When moderator Vince Vitrano asked Lebowitz what her experience was when lock down started in spring of 2020, she immediately brought up the late novelist, Toni Morrison. “It’s rare at my age to experience something I haven’t experienced before,” says Lebowitz. “This lockdown was unlike anything I have experienced, and unlike anything I have even thought about before.” Lebowitz explained that she has never given thought to what would happen in an “apocalyptic” scenario. “I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening,” says Lebowitz about the incoming pandemic. “I immediately thought about my good friend Toni Morrison. She would know how to think about this, she would know how to wrap her head around what was going on. I missed her a lot during those times.” 

4. She Doesn’t Cook, But Loves Global Cuisine 

During the audience Q&A section of the event, a spectator asked Lebowitz what kind of cookbooks she had in her library and if she enjoyed cooking. “While I don’t like most people, I do enjoy most cuisines,” says Lebowtiz. She keeps cookbooks in her apartment because she enjoys reading through them, but she avoids cooking at all costs. “I don’t cook at all – and I consider slicing a tomato to be cooking.” Though she doesn’t prepare her own food, she has mastered the art of brewing a perfect cup of coffee – “no one makes coffee like I do.” Living in New York City where the coffee options are endless, Lebowitz knows how to recognize a good brew. “I will say, the coffee I had backstage today at the Pabst was the best coffee I’ve ever had on tour,” says Lebowitz. “Not as good as mine, but still really tasty.”

Fran Lebowitz at the Pabst Theater; Photo byHarrison Dilts