The voice of Lois from The Family Guy riffs on her new one-woman comedy DVD
Alex Borstein knows comedy. As the voice of Lois on the immensely popular TV show The Family Guy, Borstein is no stranger to the world of the cutting edge. Amidst her work on that show and in films like Good Night, and Good Luck and Bad Santa, Borstein found time to put together the one-women comedy DVD Drop Dead Gorgeous In A Down To Earth Bombshell Sort Of Way. She recently sat down with us, in her pajamas, to discuss the upcoming release of this disc.
With your all work on The Family Guy and other projects, how did Drop Dead Gorgeous come about?
Alex Borstein: Well, it's kind of been a slow process. It's been a slow accumulation of material, kind of getting the show together, and we toured it in 2004 to 5 different cities. Then we shot it here in Los Angeles, at the Alex Theater, which I thought was appropriate, and then we got this distribution deal. It's kind of been this ongoing part-time job, doing it on the side and on weekends... we literally did it, my husbands the director, he shot it, he cut it, he did the whole thing. It's kind of been a cool little homegrown project.
How did you put together the standup routine for this show?
Alex Borstein: I started looking at whenever I would do little standup shows, what my material was about. And it all kind of came down to the same general area, which was what the hell has happened to women on TV and movies? We used to have Mary Tyler Moore, now we have Paris Hilton? What happened? I kind of kept exploring that, I would always do impersonations of different women out there... so it kind of started taking a shape. The show started kind of becoming about, where the hell are these cool role models? It's nice when you kind of have a point, a beginning, and a middle, and an end. For me it makes it easier to write and it's easier to develop the material, because you're not just doing random standup comedy.
So is it safe to say that you wrote this with a three act structure in mind?
Alex Borstein: I definitely wanted to raise the question what the hell has happened? This is what we used to have, even Sesame Street didn't have a frickin female character for tens of years. Going to The Facts of Life and Charlie's Angels which had these kickass chicks and then it's gone. The women in TV tend to turn into the wives and the daughters and the girlfriends, and kind of where did that go? In a way it's a a three act structure but not in the way that you'd write a film, per se.
Had playing Lois on The Family Guy given you more freedom when you do your live act, or do you think you've always had that freedom?
Alex Borstein: I think playing Lois has forced me to walk my talk. Not only playing her but writing for the show and being responsible for that character, now here I am, someone who can maybe help give us back some of these awesome female characters. A woman of sitcoms who actually enjoys having sex. Is just as much a potty mouth and has just as much of a dark side as her husband. It's kind of been a good tool to use, a good barometer of is this a character I would want to watch? Would I be making fun of this in my own show?
And we are vicious, Family Guy goes after everybody. So you really do have to say, "Okay, if I'm in Catwoman, I have to be able to accept that a lot of people are going to slam me for this."
Do you have a favorite between writing and performing?
Alex Borstein: It's hard to answer that. The writing is amazing because having a hand in creating what you're going to be performing... there's nothing like it. It's always going to be better suited for you. You're always going to know the lines faster, because you wrote it. The writing is so very hard. It's the hardest part of the whole process. In some ways the acting is a lot easier and a lot more fun.
I've read that Ms. Swan from Mad TV is based on your mother? Is that true and what does she think of that?
Alex Borstein: It's based on my grandmother, not my mother, she... at this point now is kind of going downhill. She's 92 and doesn't think much of anything. This woman is a survivor. She is a Holocaust survivor and because of the type of attitude that Swan has, being a little devious, deciding when and where she speaks English, deciding when she's full of sh*t and not, it's exactly those traits that literally helped my grandmother survive. It is 100% her and I think she just enjoys having anyone mention her name anywhere. She's a bit of an attention freak.
What are you working on now?
Alex Borstein: Well, this DVD has taken up so much time... it's going to be released on November 14. Right now, we're planning a big release party and all that kind of stuff it's just another pain in the ass. I'm also writing a second show that we're going to be doing called "Women and Jews: Why We'll Never Be President." Hopefully, I'm going to get it out in time for the election in 2008.
I'm also developing some other television shows that we're working towards and doing some movie parts. There's a website too, www.alexborstein.com.
Drop Dead Gorgeous In A Down To Earth Bombshell Sort Of Way crashes to DVD November 14 from Fox Home Entertainment.