Carol Leifer’s How To Succeed… Should Be Read By Anyone Planning to Lean In

[book] How to Succeed in Business

Without Really Crying

Lessons from a life in Comedy

by Carol Leifer (A)

April 2014

Quirk Books

A lot of college graduates get a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” as a gift. It is about as helpful as saying “plastics.” But this book by Carol Leifer (rhymes with reefer) is the book for every college grad entering the workforce – whether it be as a writer, banker, administrative assistant, proctologist, artist, or whatever.

How should you network? How should you not screw over people? How to be nice to waiters, since one day they might be writers, producers, actors, or fans? How to approach celebrities whom you know, even if they spent the might drinking with you and can’t remember you. How to interview and ask questions, dress appropriately, write personalized thank-you notes, be reasonable, and be willing to offer assistance on scripts for free, since it might lead to a paying gig.

Carol Leifer is among those few female comedians who have blazed a trail in stand-up and sit-com writing. She joins Joan Rivers, Totie Fields, Lucille Ball, Roseanne Barr, and others.

Leifer grew up on Long Island. Her parents played all the important comedy record albums of the time: from Mel Brooks to Mickey Katz. They let Carol stay up late to watch the great comedians on Ed Sullivan. They once drove her into Manhattan to eat at the same West Village bistro as her idol – Soupy Sales (what kind of parents did that sort of stuff? Great ones.)

When she went to what is now called SUNY Binghamton for college, her dormitory floor-mate was a guy named Paul Reiser. He became a friend and boyfriend. They both did acting and stand-up, and came down to NYC on Route 80 for gigs. There they met two up and coming comics: Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. Carol’s father supported her decision to drop out of college to pursue stand-up, striking while the iron was hot.

From gigs at brick-walled comedy shops and campuses, where being a woman was a novelty, but also – as Carol explains – a strength, (but also flypaper for the heckling of drunk college guys), Leifer worked her way up the stand-up comedy ladder. She also landed writing spots. From Late Night with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live to Seinfeld and Larry Sanders, from co-creating The Ellen Show to writing for seven Oscar’s and Modern Family, Carol has written for and/or performed on some of the best TV comedies. She even got her own situation comedy which was well reviewed, but hey, it was on the WB channel, and most Americans did not even know that channel existed

In very short chapters, Carol shares her experiences and anecdotes and teaches important career lessons. She shares successes and also the errors that led to temporary downfalls. Can you ever rest? Unlikely. If The Tonight Show with Carson says “no, thanks” twenty times, should you audition a twenty-first time? Even though she has written for The Oscars more than half a dozen times, she still needs to audition for the show. Why is Larry David’s shoulder key to his liking or disliking an idea for an episode? Should you burn a bridge after getting rejected by the Larry Sanders Show? No way. Her graciousness ended up landing her a writing gig after the other finalist candidate didn’t work out.

Carol shares that no industry support passive people so you have to manufacture your own success and not lean back. She explains how her first interview in Manhattan was a failure and the silly errors she made. Learn from it. She scored a writing job on Saturday Night Live and was loved by her direct bosses (one is now a U.S. Senator), but she was invisible to the Captain of the ship, Lorne Michaels. BIG career error. Is it better to be a grunt / P.A. / Writer’s Assistant or wait for the big job? Why should you develop a professional camaraderie? I wish I had read this book decades ago, so I would have avoided some errors.

Part memoir, part guide to life, and all incredibly funny, HTSIB-WR-Crying offers tips and tricks for getting ahead, finding your way, and opening doors — even if you have to use a sledgehammer

Passover Recipe Roundup

sederplatesIt’s here. The Wednesday before the first seder, the day when countless newspapers and blogs post their Passover recipes for readers. Here is a roundup of some of the notable ones:

What is Pesach without Joan Nathan? Joan leads off The Times coverage with artichokes. I feel so Roman. Her fried artichokes are bylined from Italy and includes a slideshow with Paola Modigliani Fano

Mrs. Fano, a retired schoolteacher in Rome resides in the 16th-century Palazzo Cenci near the Jewish Ghetto. She presented Joan with a facsimile of Donatella Limentani Pavoncello’s 1880 cookbook, “La Cucina Ebraica della Mia Famiglia” (“The Jewish Cooking of My Family”) from Carucci (1982), and a coltello da carciofi, a knife for cutting artichokes.

The recipe is here.

Fried Artichokes

Fried Artichokes

Additionally, Florence Fabrikant at The Times highlights seder plates. And David Tanis, the famed chef who says he became interested in cooking due to his Jewish heritage highlights a Moroccan Fish.



If you skip over their review of a new Mexican-Taiwanese fusion restaurant in Brooklyn, you make it to Melissa Clark’s profile of Seder desserts. She asks a fifth question, Why on this night should you “make a chocolate cake with matzo flour when a flourless chocolate torte is going to be so much better anyway?”

Melissa Clark’s recipes include ones for macarons, toffee, and a hazelnut citrus torte. A link to the dessert video is here.

matzofruitOver at the Boston Globe, they picked up Leanne Italie’s Associated Press story on unique matzo. Titled “Not Just Your Grandmother’s Matzo Anymore,” the story shares ideas on new matzo recipes, such as Martha Stewart Living’s chocolate covered matzo, topped with nuts and dried fruit. Martha Stewart’s Living’s Matzo Ball Soup recipe can be found here. The Newark, NJ Star Ledger picked up the same story from the AP.

The Boston Globe also features stories on Passover Profiteroles, Passover Apple Pie, Liora Kushner’s Moroccan Mufleta, and Gefilte Fish in gleaming glass jars. Debra Samuels quotes Rick Taylor, a fish monger. He says that half of Brookline, Massachusetts is searching for fresh whitefish and carp. Samuels rates six brands of bottled gefilte fish and rates Meal Mart Kosher Gefilte Fish in Jellied Broth as the winner. Rokeach got a “feh.” Manischewitz was rated as pretty in appearance, but bland in taste.

Speaking of Man, Man, Manischewitz… a Bain affiliated private equity fund has purchased the 126 year old brand. Good luck to Sankaty Advisors. (Sankoty is a Nantucket Indians word for “highlands”)

Karaite Matzo

Karaite Matzo

In the Beltway at The Washington Post, they bypass the Jewish recipes and go FULL KARAITE. Yes, Remy Pessah of Mountain View, Calif., tells The Washington Post that Karaite seders have no “Four Questions,” and they eat a lot of lamb. Their recipes are for lamb, maror, keshk, and Karaite Matzo. (The seder recipes are after the recipe for Clams with Israeli Couscous) The Washington Post also recommends Recanati Yasmin White 2012 from Israel, and Ella Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, also from Israel.

The Los Angeles Times highlights bread this week. Seriously. Their Passover recipes probably get published later this week. In the interim, check the Jewish Journal for their drunken Passover grilled cheddar cheese recipe.

The UT (Union Trib) in San Diego offers a five page primer on Matzo Balls, and a recipe from chef Bobby Flay and the Dallas based chef Tina Wasserman (author of Entree To Judaism).

Flying over to Chicago, Phil Vettel of The Chicago Tribune makes dining recommendations; Peggy Wolff explains kitniyyot and her longing for corn, rice, millet, sesame and poppy seeds, and legumes such as lentils, chick peas, fava beans and edamame; and a recipe for lemon bar matzo is explained. The also explain why quinoa is Kosher for Passover. If The Chicago Tribune is blocking you, screw them, and check out the salad recipes at The Chicago Jewish News.

The Miami Herald provides a recipe for Brisket made with Coffee and a Kosher for Passover Cream of Zucchini Soup.Over at The Gainesville Florida newspaper, Orly Padawar shares her family’s North African Passover traditions. She serves green peas, fennel and meatballs, which her mother would make for her growing up in Israel. The Sun Sentinel in Florida steals the recipe (not really) from a Boca Raton resort of a Kosher for Passover potato salad. It uses sweet potatoes, almonds, mustard, and apples.

marthastewartlivingmatzoballsoupABC News, along with the Tasting Table, goes south with Passover Brisket Tacos. here is the recipe for Kosher for Passover Tortillas. They also make a mash-up of Matza and Lasagna, called MATZAGNA.

Shhh… speaking of Matzagna, Pastry Chef Rinat Tzadok has shared the macaroon recipe from Breads Bakery in Manhattan. Rinat came to NYC with owner of Breads Bakery Uri Scheft. They run the Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv.

The Baltimore Sun recommends 2011 Hagafen Cellars Estate Cabernet Franc, Napa, California, and the linked recipe for Pikesville Maryland Chocolate Covered Matzah.

The Detroit Free Press has a chocolate matza layered torte recipe; and @SamanthaMelamed at The Philadelphia Inquirer covers several chefs as they make matza balls with more variations than Goldberg. Recipes includes ones for Avgolematzo Soup, Not Exactly Aunt Lil’s Matzo Ball Soup, and Mushroom-Matzo-Ball Celery Root Soup. Melamed has one of the best stories of the roundup.

Ground Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ground Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Long Island, NY Newsday shares Rabbi Jonathan Waxman‘s Passover recipe for turkey and quinoa stuffed bell peppers. Rabbi Waxman serves Beth Sholom of Smithtown, NY. His wife, Sarrae Crane, makes her own gefilte fish from scratch, as well as chicken soup from her mother’s recipe. They also share a recipe for CURAÇAO HAROSET BALLS (take that! Meatball shop), and CHICKEN BREASTS WITH SHITTAKE MUSHROOMS AND TOMATOES, and a BEET-CUCUMBER SALAD that Rabbi Waxman serves during the Karpas portion of his seder.

The Globe and Mail in Ontario prepares Lucy Waverman’s Passover Florentines. I am not a fan of meringue, but you might be. @LucyWaverman also shares her recipes for Matzo Brei and Dorie Greenspan’s Cured Salmon that her daughter Emma has adapted to fit a seder as an alternative to gefilte fish.

The Toledo Blade focuses on gluten and Passover. It shares some gluten free, hametz free recipes for Pesach. Along with a recipe which they mention is not kosher for passover. Okay. They tell the tale of Mrs. Greenblatt who is hosting seders on the first and second nights of the holiday; she expects 21 at the table. She will serve gluten-free matzah balls in soup, gluten-free macaroni and cheese, and also a vegetarian lasagna using gluten-free matzo-style squares and Kestenbaum’s Oat Matzos from the UK.

The New Haven Register, home town of Yale University and New Haven style pizza, features UNSTUFFED CABBAGE. Author Stephen Fries made it for his mother in Florida and it impressed her. The recipe is from “A Taste of Pesach: Trusted Favorites, Simple Preparation, Magnificent Results,” a project of Yeshiva Me’on Hatorah (ArtScroll). Their BABY BELLA AND CRANBERRY BRISKET uses Chicken Broth as a base for the brisket. Who knew?

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette shares chef Wolfgang Puck’s recipe for BRAISED VEAL SHANKS WITH DRIED FRUIT AND ALMONDS AND RED WINE SAUCE.

The Village Voice shares a recipe from Dan Cohen’s Macaroon Bible And unfortunately The Times/Picayune in New Orleans shares a yeast cake for the holiday they call “Passover/Easter.”

Thankfully up in Baton Rouge at The Advocate, they have a real Passover recipe for a Roasted Chicken. But good luck finding Kosher for Passover Brown Sugar

Individual Kugels

Individual Kugels

In Austin, Texas, four food bloggers (Floggers) got together to share some recipes. The Austin Chronicle shares some recipes from their ebook. The four bloggers are Whitney Fisch of Jewhungry in Miami; Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me in New York City; Sarah Lasry, aka The Patchke Princess of New Jersey; and Austin’s Amy Kritzer of What Jew Wanna Eat. Amy Kritzer’s recipe for Individual Potato and Zucchini Kugels (Pareve, Gebrokts) is highlighted.

San Francisco? Nothing. No new recipes yet. We did miss The Downtown Seder at the San Francisco JCC An import from Manhattan). It featured Napa winemakers Ernie Weir of Hagafen Cellars and Jeff Morgan of Covenant Wines who poured their premium kosher wines; a kosher vegetarian menu by Milk & Honey, entertainment by 20 artists and thinkers, including Israel-born singer David Broza, and the world premiere of Lewis Black’s video “Plague.”

Wait. I lied. The San Jose Mercury news snagged a recipe from the Wise Sons Deli. The Red Wine & Onion Braised Brisket is courtesy of Leo Beckerman of Wise Sons Delicatessen I suppose it is appropriate to dine at a place called Wise Sons and not a place called The Child Who Did Not Known Enough To Ask A Question. (And what about the Fifth Child? The one who did not even come to the seder?)

Adriana Janovich of Spokane’s Spokesman-Review writes that kosher for Passover can be easy. Her Yerushalmi Kugel
is from Jamie Geller’s “Joy of Kosher”, and it substitutes KP noodles for egg noodles.

Balaboosta in Manhattan is hosting a Passover meal of shirt ribs followed by a milk chocolate but flourless torte. Only $125. You sure she is from Israel? And Louisa Shafia is hosting a rice filled Passover dinner in Manhattan, plus you get a copy of her cookbook, The New Persian Kitchen. It is only $85 plus taxes and fee (or a nice round $100).

The JDC (Joint Distribution Committee) is sharing three unique Passover recipes from various countries. They are Kazakhstan:
Chicken Kotletky (“A La Migdal”)from of Svetlana Nezhinskaya; Uzbekistan: Mazurka courtesy of Alla Krichevskaya of Tashkent; and Kyrgyzstan: Green Borscht with Matzah courtesy of Valeria Khaimov-Levitsky.

Northern New Jersey’s Bergen Record profiles some area chefs that are preparing Passover desserts. Mark Roth, a Teaneck resident and former owner of Evviva in Manhattan’s East Village, started Tova’s All Natural (named for his 6 year old daugher), a Passover dessert business. He is busy making 10,000 macarons, which will be available in 15 kosher food stores in New Jersey. Also profiled is Israeli-born chef Tomer Zilkha, of Patisserie Florentine in Englewood, NJ. He is also baking for Passover, but his treats will be “kosher style.”

spongecakeFurther North and East, in Calgary, The Calgary Herald has a recipe for a light sponge cake, made with matzo meal and potato starch that is sure to evoke memories. This recipe, from master baker Annette Lerner, appears in The Holiday Kosher Baker, by Paula Shoyer. Unlike many sponge cake recipes, it doesn’t call for the eggs to be separated. Shoyer was skeptical initially, she writes, but found that the recipe produces “a tall, light sponge cake that tastes as if you have incorporated beaten egg whites.” With less work.

On that note. rest, relax, have less work, and have a good Pesach