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Episode 116

A Writer Stays Real While Working Her Way Through Motherhood

Episode  116
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Liz Astrof is a writer, producer and show runner who has helped create some of your favorite sitcoms, including King of Queens, 2 Broke Girls, Whitney, Becker and Last Man Standing, while precariously balancing marriage, career and children beyond the storm of her own darkly dangerous childhood.

Liz has written a wickedly funny, raw and revealing book, called 'STAY-AT-WORK MOM' which hilariously pours a conflicted cocktail of emotions, highly relatable to anyone who has ever attempted to build a career, raise a family, or, boldly do both!

Liz provides us with an inside look at her difficult childhood, her parenting style, her creative process, working with tightly wound comedian/actor types and sharing a career path with her writer/brother Jeff.

More Path Links

Liz Astrof Amazon Author Page

Liz Astrof on IMDB

Stay at Work Mom: Marriage, Kids and Other Disasters by Liz Astrof

Liz Astrof on Instagram

Liz Astrof on Twitter

The Automat - Amazon Prime

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A journey, A Song 

Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris Perform Hallelujah at Hope for Haiti TV event

Mariane and Leonard: Words of Love 

Leonard Cohen Website

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Speaker 1 (00:00:00):

Louise Palanker (00:00:06):

Welcome to Media Path. I'm Louise

Fritz Coleman  (00:00:08):

Lanker. And I'm Fritz Coleman.

Louise Palanker (00:00:10):

We are here in your life as a podcasting service to provide you with viewing and reading recommendations and introduce you to noteworthy guests of great reput whose work promises to entertain and delight you. Today on the show in person, we are joined by the stunningly amusing and stunningly stunning writer, author, humorous. Liz Astro more about her in just a bit, but she's here in person. She brought us cupcakes. Liz, would you like to introduce your

Liz Astrof (00:00:37):

Cupcakes? Um, I brought a selection of Susie cakes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> cupcakes that I was, I stressed over what kinds to pick online. So what

Louise Palanker (00:00:47):

Do we

Liz Astrof (00:00:48):

Have here? Um, I think there are a few blues, a few pinks <laugh>, uh, a red velvet or two. But then I have this whole inner conflict over Do people really like Red Velvet anymore? Where did

Louise Palanker (00:00:59):

Just pretend to do

Liz Astrof (00:01:00):

I add a gluten free? Do they have gluten free?

Louise Palanker (00:01:02):

Because it's trendy.

Liz Astrof (00:01:03):

Because it's trendy. Yeah. Nut free. We're nuts in the factory. Anyway, all of this was not going to matter because I was going to eat it in the car. <laugh>. Yeah. If one bit of frosting touched my finger in the car, it was over.

Louise Palanker (00:01:15):

But look how well you've done. I did. Well, and here they are. And you're,

Liz Astrof (00:01:18):

They put them in the trunk.

Louise Palanker (00:01:19):

They come with serving tips.

Liz Astrof (00:01:20):

Oh yeah, I know that. Yes. And it tells you that it's not an ice cream cake

Louise Palanker (00:01:24):

Store at room temperature never refrigerate. And then it breaks it down into types of cupcakes. And what you should do in the event of <laugh>, so like if it's buttercream cakes, you have to store and serve at room temperature. If it's snacked cakes, you have to refrigerate until four hours prior to serving. If it's cheesecakes, you have to refrigerate until serving. I didn't know there'd be so much homework or studying involved with cupcakes. But

Liz Astrof (00:01:47):

We're, and who's waiting four hours?

Louise Palanker (00:01:49):

We're just gonna eat them. Like when the show's over you guys,

Fritz Coleman  (00:01:51):

We, our job is to eat 'em before the frosting melts under these lights. We'll do that. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:01:55):

Well, let's see if we can eat them. It's like a contest. It's sort of like when you have that paper straw and it's like a contest between you and the coffee, like, which is gonna win? Are you gonna finish this coffee before your straw dies? You

Liz Astrof (00:02:07):

Know, there's a pasta straw, like very beginning of like no plastics. Paradise Cove introduced a pasta straw I'm in, but I didn't know that it was a pasta straw. But by the end of your soda, you're eating pasta <laugh>. So it's kind of great because it goes, it really went well with Diet Coke

Louise Palanker (00:02:27):

<laugh>. I've never tried it. It sounds wonderful. I'm in <laugh>. So Fritz, what are you recommending for us this week?

Fritz Coleman  (00:02:34):

All right. It's another documentary. You know, that's my hobby. This is the ama. This is a documentary on Amazon Prime. It's kind of a narrow interest. Uh, it will only mean something to you if you spent any time in New York City or in Philadelphia. Auto mats are a very specific part of life there, like standing over a subway exhaust. Great to get warm in the winter, you have to be there to experience that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, this movie is specifically about horn and hard arts auto mats and auto mat is a fast food restaurant where simple foods are served in vending machines, not the vending machines that we know today. Not vending machines, you know, where you put in 75 cents and a machine regurgitates, plastic wrap shortbread cookies, and you call that lunch. These are much more sophisticated. This was servings of fresh food that were presented in a little transparent compartment. Yes. That looked a little bit like the cribs in the NICU. <laugh> you put in say 40 cents

Louise Palanker (00:03:28):

Poor little sandwich.

Fritz Coleman  (00:03:30):

The, the door

Louise Palanker (00:03:31):

Feeding tube small

Fritz Coleman  (00:03:32):

Would magically open and you take a piece of blueberry pie that was baked that morning at an undisclosed location, not on site. They would delivering them all over town, but it was fresh and delicious. And they had piping hot entrees like meatloaf and cream spinach, just like mom makes. The first one of these food service systems was built in Berlin, Germany. In 1895, Mr. Horn and Mr. Harder decided to bring the technology to the us. What is fascinating beyond the streamlined food service was how nice these restaurants actually were. They had Italian marble floors, marble tabletops, polished brass fixtures, surrounded the cubby holes of food, gorgeous architecture, including domes, ceilings, tables that seated for, and it wasn't outta the question that you just share a table with a stranger and be perfectly comfortable with it. The surroundings were tasteful enough to draw high-end clientele for business lunches, and inexpensive enough for people on a strict budget. It had the feel of a natural history museum with a sophisticated food court. <laugh>. Mel Brooks does a running commentary, which is hysterical. RBG Ruth Bader Ginsburg talks about her favorite dish in the world was the cream spinach at the auto mat. It's an interesting look at a bygone cultural era. And because I was born and raised in Philadelphia, I loved, I love the movie.

Louise Palanker (00:04:50):

So have you been to, you went to an automa

Fritz Coleman  (00:04:52):

When you were Absolutely. I went to Horn and Hard yard cuz my aunt lived right down the street from one. Oh. How that was a big deal going

Louise Palanker (00:04:57):

There. Okay. Yeah.

Fritz Coleman  (00:04:58):

My parents would spend in excess of a dollar 50 on dinner.

Louise Palanker (00:05:02):

We just had Gleasons in Buffalo. Yeah,

Fritz Coleman  (00:05:04):

I I remember Gleasons

Louise Palanker (00:05:05):

Too. So, um, I'm gonna recommend Hallelujah. Leonard Coh a journey, a song. There's a lot of commas in the title, so I'll say it again. Hallelujah. Leonard Cohn, A Journey, a song. The central character of this film is not Leonard Coh so much as his song. Hallelujah. Examining the song's arc provides a lens which brings Leonard Cohen's life into sharper Focus. Quite a lift because he was a uniquely curious and complex figure, forever grappling with life, purpose, religion, society, philosophy, and the meaning of it all. Cohen begins his journey as a, his adult journey as a poet and a novelist casting off on a musical journey in his thirties, wrapping his poems in melodies that he begins performing in sixties Folk club settings. Cohen grappled with his spiritual opus, hallelujah. For eight years, writing some 150 draft versions, never quite satisfied that his words met the challenge of his, his triumphant melody.


Which brings me to my central question. Why did Leonard Cohen write a song for someone who doesn't even care for music? Does she maybe She worked for Warner Brothers records because when he finally recorded Hallelujah in 1984, the entire album was rejected. And it was not even released in the States. But the powerful little seed of a song took root in England was recorded by John Kale, recognized as a classic by music insiders covered by Jeff Beckley. Included in the movie Shrek as the ultimate ogre lament <laugh> from where it blossomed the iconic masterpiece. It has become an equal parts prayerful, mysterious, reverent, soulful, and soaring. Hallelujah has been performed by hundreds of artists in a multitude of languages. You may have a favorite. Mine is from the Hope for Haiti TV event. It's Justin Timberlake with his Mickey Mouse Club. May Matt Morris, absolutely gorgeous.


Check it out. Link provided in show notes. And if you are hungry to learn more about the Darkly deep and mysterious Leonard Cohen, you can indulge yourself in a vast number of his books, albums, concerts, interviews, et cetera. Plus, so much has been studied and written about him for you to explore. I watched a 2019 documentary called Maryanne and Leonard Words of Love. This film takes you to the Greek island of Hydra in 1960, or Leonard Cohen. Then a struggling in unknown fiction writer and poet takes up with Maryanne, a photographer and a single mother. Together they become part of a community of expat artists, writers and musicians finding inspiration in one another. It's here that Cohen minds his masterpiece. Hallelujah.

Fritz Coleman  (00:07:32):

People worship him like a religious Yeah. And he fills these 10,000 seat venues. I don't think he's that great of a performer, but he's just a great writer. Well,

Louise Palanker (00:07:40):

He, he surrounded himself with just layers and layers of harmonies and melody and great musicianship. You know, he kind of like, has a Dylan esque voice in that. It's like, not about, you know, his vocal prowess, it's more about his delivery and his heart. And that's, I think, and of course his lyrics are just, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative> legends. So,

Liz Astrof (00:08:01):

I think I heard this song, I think I heard Hallelujah. Not for the first time, but on American Idol.

Louise Palanker (00:08:07):

Yeah. And they show that in the movie, Liz. They show all these different people. It's on the amazing contestants singing it. And that's like, if

Fritz Coleman  (00:08:14):

You can, that's a closer song. If you bring that out and do well, boom. Oh,

Louise Palanker (00:08:16):

Yeah's over it. Yeah, you're done.

Liz Astrof (00:08:17):

You can't wanna follow

Louise Palanker (00:08:18):

That. All right. So we're gonna, you know, you, you do not. No, you don't. So we're gonna introduce our guest. Liz Astro is an award-winning executive producer and one of the most successful sitcom writers in television today. She has worked on the King of Queens, raising Hope, two Broke Girls, Whitney Becker, trial and error. Does this get you exhausted listening?

Liz Astrof (00:08:37):

It's a lot.

Louise Palanker (00:08:38):

It's a lot. And many more makes you feel old. No, no, no, no. Just very accomplished. While she can rarely be seen at her kid's school, Liz is often seen driving by <laugh>. She has penned her inspired memoir, stay at Work, mom, marriage, kids, and other disasters. Liz lives in California with her family, two dogs. Dogs a gecko, and at least three turtles. Liz, if you are too busy for your kids, how did you find the time to write your

Liz Astrof (00:09:02):

Book? What happened was, and it would never have been, I would never think that I would write a book about being a mom, because I don't really consider that part of my, you know, like when you describe me mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but, um, persona. But what happened was, I had a pilot while I was on Whitney. I'd written pilots every year and they never went anywhere. And, um, I wanted to write something that was mine and I had all these stories from when I was a kid that people were horrified by. But I saw the humor in them. That was my way of dealing. So I started, I took a class at ucla, an extension class over hiatus. So it wasn't like I was never around. So

Louise Palanker (00:09:38):

This was homework.

Liz Astrof (00:09:38):

This was homework, and I loved it. But then after the class finished, I, um, worked with an editor who, um, helped me get it into shape for a to find, I worked with an editor and then I found an agent and she sent me all these, you have to write a proposal and the proposal has to be like 225 pages. It's crazy. Wow. So I wrote it over like two years. I wrote it and I would write in my son's room at night in his rocking chair. I, because he just can't sleep on his own. He's 15 now. And, um, I wouldn't sit in a chair in his room and write. And so I was there. I just was, or at, in bed at night when everybody was sleeping or in my car when everybody wasn't sleeping <laugh>. But, um, but I would write them. But anyway, so I took this class and then got an agent and she was asking me what the theme was though, what the arc.


And what I realized was shockingly, that every essay pretty much went back to, started with the kind of mother I am in some way, but went back to my own mother and my own childhood. So that was the bridging thing. And then I was on the set at two broke girls and Jennifer Coolidge was looking at pictures in my phone and she passed one of my family. And she said, oh my God, you have such a beautiful family. And I just flatly said, I think I made a mistake. And she loved that because everybody is always talking about how much they love their kids and how great it is and fulfilling and she doesn't have kids. And it just made her day <laugh>. And I said that I don't, she said, I've never heard people say that before. So then that became the bent of the book, kind of, you know, it was like the things that you don't expect people to say, um, that you're not supposed to say, but it is also written with I did, I also wrote it not realizing that they'll someday be able to read.

Louise Palanker (00:11:39):

Hmm. You didn't teach them to read. You

Liz Astrof (00:11:41):

Haven't done that. Well, I, I didn't, but don't

Louise Palanker (00:11:43):

Make that

Liz Astrof (00:11:44):

Mistake. I also, yeah. I mean, I do everything wrong as a mother mostly. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but I also show up for them, which is good or bad. Constantly. I'm all over them.

Fritz Coleman  (00:11:52):

I, I wanna tell you something, and this is not just because you brought Cupcakes, <laugh>. This is the funniest book I have ever read, ever. And I honestly s not true. It's true. And I think it's funny for one reason that you just mentioned, because I think you are brave enough to say your feelings of inadequacies about being a mom and a parent. And I think it reflects back on your really dicey relationship with your own mother. But also because even in the darkest moments of your childhood, when you're hiding under the bed from your mom, you twist the darkness into funny. And that just makes it even funnier. So it is really an amusing book. And don't let the, you know, you know, stay at home mom. Don't let the mom thing steer away men, because you will see your wife in this cuz Liz probably says things about her, your wife's feelings that she doesn't have the guts to say. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it's really a, I had a wonderful time reading.

Liz Astrof (00:12:45):

Thank you. I, I know I was worried about the, the original title was Don't Wait Up Confessions of a Stayat Work Mom <laugh>. And my brother coined me a Stayat work mom just in passing in conversation. And it really is very true. And a lot of the book, I was worried that it would only appeal to women. But a lot of the book is about growing up, watching eighties TV and being, wanting to be sucked into their lives. And then becoming a comedy writer to create that myself. And also going to fat camp and being an overweight kid and being shamed and, you know, and there's a lot of, there are a lot of stories about that

Louise Palanker (00:13:22):

Stuff. Oh, there's so much vulnerability. Your book is, you know, absolute genius. I would place it on a shelf with Angela's Ashes and Educated. But you are also very frank about your flaws. And I mean, Frank McCort may have eaten cool whip in bed. He took that secret to his grave, but, oh God. Was your honesty healing for you to just reveal? Yes. You know, what you see as like, I mean, you understand yourself enough to know that you weren't parented. Right. And therefore what, you know, what, what's your frame of reference? But you're still very, very frank and I think the reader finds that gratifying to you. Find it gratifying to be that vulnerable.

Liz Astrof (00:13:56):

Yes. Because first I would tell these stories and my brother and I would always joke about being in a writer's room and just tossing off. So how old were you when your mom kidnapped you? Or what were you wearing when you got sent to Fat Camp? It was so normal to us. Like that was, but also people felt so sorry for me and I didn't want them to. Hmm. And I was like, I'm fine, I'm fine now. You know, and I would make a joke about it. And then, cuz sometimes I would mention something and the whole room would go dark <laugh>. And I was like, that was just a j why is that not funny? Why is everyone, why is everyone crying? <laugh>? And then, um, and I didn't want people to feel sorry for me, but also when I, so when I was writing them for homework for my class, I was, it was so cathartic.


And also some of the essays were really hard to write. And I also noticed when I was reading them in the Audible book, I would have physical reactions to some of them where my nose would start running or Oh. And also if I was writing a certain one, I would be in a really bad mood that night. Things like that. Like it brought stuff back up for me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, not in a productive way, <laugh>. Right. Because it's all in the past, but it's not, it did it, it definitely, it definitely caused, um, caused me to have different reactions to all of them. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:15:07):

But it still could have been ultimately a release,

Liz Astrof (00:15:09):

Like a cleansing, it's a total cathartic release. I love doing my homework. I was, I did not hate it. And different than TV writing, I did not dread writing this at all. I didn't dread the homework. I would stay up till four in the morning writing.

Fritz Coleman  (00:15:23):

So you and your, your childhood, right? I I mean really we easy brought up a good point. You had no template for parenting. I mean, you couldn't look to your mom or your dad Right. To see behavior that you would like to mirror in your own children. Right. And then also you had your weight insecurities when you were Sure here for sure. Yes. So was that the source of your humor? Was it this protective armor that you put on yourself? Or was it just this natural thing for

Liz Astrof (00:15:50):

No, I think it was make a joke before they make fun of you be the funny one before they say anything about how fat you are. Always have candy in your locker and you'll be everyone's friends <laugh>. But people said such mean things to me in my town. We grew up in a very, um, we grew up really in like a white supremacist, um, blue collar, like very anti-Semitic, homophobic racist town. And we were the only Jews. And so, um, I would always, I was always on my, on the defense about people thought I was an alien.

Fritz Coleman  (00:16:24):

You felt like an outsider and you were an

Liz Astrof (00:16:26):

Outsider. And I were, yes. And people were, when I invited friends to my bat mitzvah, they didn't even know what they were, you know, and their parents were anti-Semitic too. So their parents I think were worried that I was going to steal from them or that it was crazy the way they would look. Now that I realize that Cara Beach's mother was on me all the time. Age. Sure. I know. Yeah. So it's weird. It's like, it wasn't that, I mean, it was the eighties, so it wasn't, people weren't that evolved in that way, you know? So, so that was definitely, I would always have like a joke first. So, yes.

Fritz Coleman  (00:16:59):

So your brother Jeff is a talented screenwriter as well? Yes. Yes. But he had a slightly different relationship with the parents. He was a little closer to your mom than he was. Yes. And, and you were a little closer it seemed, to your dad at least till the latter half of her life. Right? Right. So where did his creative energy come from? Because he came from the same set of circumstances.

Liz Astrof (00:17:18):

Well, he witnessed all of it. My mother, I think a lot of it is from what we went through with my mother. And I don't know why I'm estranged from her, but I don't know why he speaks to her. Um, and buys her bras and diapers. <laugh>, I said she didn't buy you bras and diapers when you were a baby. Why do you owe her that? But I think because he's very religious and he's, he's um, a very, um, what would you say, religious Jew, he feels more of like more compelled

Louise Palanker (00:17:51):

To, I think it just means he's stealing from her.

Liz Astrof (00:17:53):

I hope so. There's nothing to steal

Fritz Coleman  (00:17:56):

L I'm sorry, let me just interject one thing cuz you brought her up. He's very religious. He's an orthodox Yes. Jew. And very strict in practicing. Yes. It seems like a complete other part of your brain. Yes. From being a comedy

Liz Astrof (00:18:07):

Writer. I think that he needed it as structure. I think he's always needed structure. We did not have any structure. He, um, while close with my mother, he was never really close with her. No one could be. But he was, I think he had tried ever since she, spoiler alert, kidnapped me and left him home. <laugh>. I think he's probably felt that he wanted her attention and she just, you know, she just never gave him enough. So, but the religion, I think gave him, it was so chaotic in my house that I think the religion gave him rules. Interesting. And, um, a structure and, and something that he could not, you know, thank I'm glad that I didn't need that kind of structure because I love shrimp. Right. And I love TV on Saturdays and I don't, I'm not very disciplined

Louise Palanker (00:18:57):

<laugh>. And I have, you know, I don't wanna have to have twice as many cupboards or dishwashers.

Liz Astrof (00:19:01):

No, it's just a lot. I can barely use one. Yeah. I know. I just don't. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:19:06):

Yeah. But I, you know, I felt like I felt the same way about, you know, why people maybe do that if they feel like that, you know, there's safety within boundaries. Yes. And that, you know, instead of having to grapple with every one of life's decisions, you know, you're told, you know, on on Saturday and you explain it really well in your, in your book, in that passage where you have to get to Jeff and then you realize, you know, he's, he's fine. He likes pressing pause. Yes. And this is what he needs every Saturday. He's not, he's off the grid and this is what he needs to breathe. And, and Right. And uh,

Liz Astrof (00:19:35):

And it's annoying for me. It's so annoying. Cause I need to get in touch with him. Yeah. I have things that I wanna talk about,

Louise Palanker (00:19:42):

You know. Yeah, no, I know. I mean, I need, I think maybe chalk art might help if you just went to the driveway.

Liz Astrof (00:19:46):

I don't think he could read it.

Louise Palanker (00:19:47):

You're not allowed to read chalk art.

Liz Astrof (00:19:49):

I used to go there. Where

Louise Palanker (00:19:50):

Does say in the Bible? It

Liz Astrof (00:19:52):

Doesn't say anything. Chalk all. I don't know if you could, well, scripture. It's just a whole other writing Hebrew.

Louise Palanker (00:19:57):

Did you ever write show? Write it in Hebrew brother. Write it in Hebrew. Yes. Chalk art in Hebrew.

Liz Astrof (00:20:01):

Chalk art in Hebrew. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:20:02):

Go ahead Bruce.

Fritz Coleman  (00:20:03):

I just wondered if he ever worked on her show with your brother. And that seems like a first, I, I can't think of two other siblings that wrote her on the show together. Well,

Liz Astrof (00:20:09):

I fir we wrote one script together that was so much fun that didn't wind up going. But I have worked for him twice as a consultant once on trial and error, his last show and can now be seen on Amazon. Um, the two seasons. And then I did it again on Shining Veil this year because I was develop, I'm developing other stuff. I didn't wanna go on a staff staff, so it worked for me. But what I realized the first day on trial and error is that I had told myself that I would work with him, but never for him. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because we immediately regressed into that really smart, valedictorian older brother and really fat tudent little sister immediately. So it was just, it was, my eyes were immediately narrowed. I was immediately mad. He was rejecting everything I would say. And then I would leave the room and he would say, let's do that.


So it was very, he refused to give me anything. So a lot of times, um, one of the writers said that it reminded him of Miss Mrs. Maisel at our end of the table because eventually I would just be like, shut up Jeff. And it's his room and his show. Um, ultimately it was really good. I also thought we would get to leave early on Fridays because he, I was, I was like, this is great. I'll work Fridays. Yeah. But he would leave early on Fridays. So every Friday he would get his stuff to go. And the minute I saw pink anything in, in the winter, it was the best. I said, we'll work till like noon on Fridays. He would leave, but then the room would stay.

Louise Palanker (00:21:43):

So you're his Sabbath boys?

Liz Astrof (00:21:45):

Yes. Okay. Yes. But I would make sure he was gone and leave. And then I remember being at a facial and getting a text from him saying Keep everyone there till seven 30. And I was on my facial bed and I just wrote on my watch. Sure. <laugh>, I mean no. So he really has it rigged. I get it. Even if he weren't Orthodox, I would, I should start saying I am because you know, a lot of holidays in October. Oh

Fritz Coleman  (00:22:12):

Yeah. And they take off Christmas too. And nobody

Liz Astrof (00:22:14):

Says anything about that. Yes. Nobody says anything. But it is, you know, I, I think that it's, it's, we just don't talk about it <laugh> and we talk about everything mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, um, yeah. And then the minute the sun goes down on Fr Saturday, he starts like shooting off emails and texts as if everyone has been in hibernation since Friday. Wow.

Louise Palanker (00:22:34):


Liz Astrof (00:22:35):

For his, waiting for his

Louise Palanker (00:22:37):

<laugh>. He probably had, you know, he probably has them like loaded and locked. Oh

Liz Astrof (00:22:40):

Yes. Yeah. Well if you go to a wedding or any kind of affair where there are Orthodox Jews and it's nighttime, they will all be on their phones the entire time. Anywhere you see them, they're not present at all. They're on their phones cuz they have to fire off these emails that have been stewing. Mm. Their whole holiday is spent writing these emails in their heads, in their heads about how they've been wronged or what's not getting done or what should be done as if nobody is thinking about any of this during normal life. So it is kind of like he's working

Louise Palanker (00:23:13):

<laugh> so little interesting. So you can't turn your mind off, even though you can turn

Liz Astrof (00:23:16):

Off exactly. Every other device. You can't even turn lights off.

Louise Palanker (00:23:18):

But you can't turn your mind

Liz Astrof (00:23:20):

Off. Right. You can't. Exactly. I'm sure he str

Louise Palanker (00:23:22):

Spars in your book you explained that your horrible childhood sharpened and fortified you to write for TV because it's just so hard to take all this scathing abuse. But you had a childhood full of that, which also made you funny. So to me that's a heartbreaking epiphany. But, um, I, I'd love for you to tell our audience a little bit about what goes on on it seems like, you know, as long as you know, someone can produce a good show, they can absolutely be vile to everybody. I is that still the case that that culture or is it acceptable to be as horrible to your, to your team as what you've written in your book?

Liz Astrof (00:24:01):

Um, I think it's less acceptable, I would say, but I think it's less acceptable. But it's the fact that I worked on a few shows where it was just, you were lucky to have the job and it was abusive and it's just the way it is cuz it paid for your house and a lot of people had a score to settle from their childhoods or something and they took it out on the people beneath them or their own insecurities. But those people are still working.

Louise Palanker (00:24:31):

They're so mean,

Liz Astrof (00:24:32):

Mean they're so mean.

Louise Palanker (00:24:33):

Like they enjoy it and

Liz Astrof (00:24:34):

Mean, but it's not like,

Louise Palanker (00:24:35):


Liz Astrof (00:24:36):

So someone had said to me, this comic that worked on one of the shows with me had said, um, you know, I've been thinking about you af in the Me Too stuff when that all started. I've been thinking about you a lot and I wanna write, um, an op-ed piece about you. And I said, don't tell anyone, but I've never been sexually harassed. I was so embarrassed. Yeah. And I said, thank you for thinking I have been. And then she said, no, the abuse at work

Fritz Coleman  (00:25:04):


Liz Astrof (00:25:04):

And I said, oh, the, the, she said the emotional part of it, you've been emotionally, you've been, you know, abused. And I just thought, oh well why didn't anyone do anything about it? Because I always, so anyway, so she wanted to write this thing and I said, no, I'll write about it myself. But people started coming forward and saying that she was asking them for quotes about me in the room and I just started, I did start to think, you know, we, it was kind of every man for himself, but I like to think that I had other people's backs, but it really became like a lobster pot. It doesn't have to be like that, that it, there are so many better ways to work, but it really was set up that that was okay.

Fritz Coleman  (00:25:45):

I I think one of the great teachable moments with your daughter in the book Oh yeah. Is when Phoebe asked you to look under the bed to make sure there were no monsters. Yeah. And somehow the conversation got twisted and said, I work for a monster <laugh>. And you had to explain to her how that worked. And I thought, and and later I know you regretted having Yes. Said that to her. But I thought, no, you probably set her up for adult life pretty well. Particularly as a woman in the workplace. That was funny.

Liz Astrof (00:26:07):

I hope so. I mean, I did think when everything, when I finally left, I did think I have a daughter, I have to, you know, I have to, I don't want her to take this kind of treatment and she never would. But also, how can I, what kind of example am I, if I just sit here and get screamed and, you know, my, my face screamed at? So, you know, it's

Louise Palanker (00:26:30):

Just really hard to know what to do in those moments. I mean, I've certainly had abusive bosses and been humiliated and the reason that, you know, people are talking is that it was a room full of people who heard it. Yeah, yeah. It's not like someone pulled you into their office and like chewed you out. It's like there's a bunch of people walking around Oh my god, yes. Telling these stories because they all heard it.

Liz Astrof (00:26:48):

Yes. Has

Fritz Coleman  (00:26:49):

That that changed at all cause of the new human resources stuff that's going on now?

Liz Astrof (00:26:53):

Yes. If one, I do think so. Actually. I do think that if I, it's so hard cuz I haven't been, when I'm in my brother's room when on shining veil, he would go around and just say, everybody feels safe. Everybody feels safe, <laugh>, everybody feel fine. Like, you can't, but you just, you have to walk on eggshells. You have to be, and especially in a comedy room if you can't joke. But there was a difference back then where people were so, especially men were so disrespectful and you know, we just took it cuz it was part of the job. But it's better now. I think. I would never do that when I ran my show. We made it. I mean, it was very kind. And you don't have to get yelled at to

Fritz Coleman  (00:27:35):

Be Well talk about safe in the terms of safe. Safe.

Liz Astrof (00:27:38):

Yes. Talk about Yes, yes, yes.

Fritz Coleman  (00:27:40):

Safe. Safe in your life. There's are important words in your life. Yes. In your relationship with your brother. Explain that. I thought that was wonderful.

Liz Astrof (00:27:45):

When we were, um, when we were little and, um, left to our mom's care during the day before my dad would get home, he would my, she would have her freak outs or breakdowns where she would come after us and start pulling our hair and scratching us and us. And it usually was around the time that she was, should have been making dinner. I think she really hated to cook <laugh>.

Louise Palanker (00:28:09):

She was really hungry.

Liz Astrof (00:28:10):

So she was she was really hungry, biting you. Yes. And so, yes. So my brother would yell wherever I was in the house, my brother would yell head for the bomb shelters. So I would run and meet him under my bed and we would try to pull the phone under the bed to call my dad in Manhattan. And he would always bring home like donuts and pizza. So begins the, like, soothing. Anyway, so my brother and I, if we had to leave to go to the bathroom or anywhere we went, really, we would always say safe, safe, safe, safe. So now, you know, I'll say something like, if we're getting on a flight, we'll say safe, safe, safe, safe, safe. Every time we're on the phone, when we get off, we just safe, safe, safe, safe, safe, safe. And now we'll say, you know, um, safe flight, even though the captain just announced that one of the engines blew. And then I'll write back safe flight. Even though the captain just, you have to say back exactly what the other one said to you. And um, yeah, we still are mirror that. Yeah. We always say safe, safe. Ever since we were four and and nine. Yeah. I love that.

Fritz Coleman  (00:29:09):

Yeah. So sweet.

Liz Astrof (00:29:10):

Yeah. So

Louise Palanker (00:29:11):

I think that, you know, having each other may have kept you both safe.

Liz Astrof (00:29:15):

Safe. I got really sad yesterday about him dying. Jeff, Jeff's not dying. No, he's not, but he will. So I always, I just told him, I said, you die ahead your dog and had Jeff, I'm gonna, I'm gonna die first. Okay. No, that dog did pass away and I was nowhere near a frying pan. And, um, my husband was nowhere near, although he did bring it up later. And he said, you know, <laugh>. Um, but, but then we had other dogs. I had to stay alive for. You do. And you, I don't wanna outlive anyone. Definitely not my brother.

Louise Palanker (00:29:44):

You're both gonna be fine. I won't be

Liz Astrof (00:29:45):

Be fine for now.

Louise Palanker (00:29:46):

For a long, long time. So I wanted to, um, mention to you that, um, I've looked at the reviews, um, on Amazon. So I I thought you might, this might be an interesting conversation to have. So, Amazon reviewer and verified purchaser, Amy gom wrote such a fantastic look at how every parent feels all too often, but most wouldn't say out loud. Susie Glazer verified purchaser, wrote this book inspired me to look at life through a more humorous lens and offered a reminder that self-deprecation can go a long way to help one survive the trudges of parenthood. And since your writing is, is so magical, the only negativity in review land is from people who can't relate to your feelings and, and how you process your experiences. And I believe that one of our greatest challenges as humans is for us to master empathy. How you feel is not how everyone is supposed to feel because you love indoor water, hotel vacation parks with your kids does not mean that everyone else does. And you may have been blessed with a greater tolerance for chlorine <laugh>. So one of, one of the purposes of the book is for all of us to move beyond mom shaming, but I have never raised kids. So talk about that dime dynamic from the front lines. It felt like in the reviews you could smell the mom shaming,

Liz Astrof (00:31:03):

Um, me mom sha Oh, that

Louise Palanker (00:31:05):

I was being No, like ind Well, I don't know. I you got Lisa and Linda here, your mom's like, do you feel like there's people in the school parking lot or were like, well that, you know, she's not really enjoying motherhood and you know, or what have you about whether or not people go to work or Yeah. Or not people that stay home like whatever someone else is doing is the wrong thing because what I'm doing has to be the right thing rather than there could be many Right. Things for many different types of

Liz Astrof (00:31:30):

People. Yes. And, and I don't want, I want the book to appeal to other people besides moms or people with moms. Right. Because it really is just about being an adult and being a child with no, it it with no boundaries. No, just pure chaos and coming out of that mm-hmm. And how it informs your adult life mm-hmm. <affirmative> and also about how tv, so my brother became a TV writer first. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because he's really smart and funny, <laugh> and he could do any, I think I'm the o I always say like, I'm the only TV writer that couldn't have been a lawyer. There's nothing else I could have done. But I watched so much TV that it just bled into my brain and I would talk like TV characters because it was an escape. So anybody who had is in a situation that they'd wanna escape or have gone through childhood stuff and you know, so, but the mom thing, it's so funny because one of my mom friends is this Uber mom always like she's the Girl Scout leader, everything. And she is doing some terrible things. <laugh> and her kids, she comes off as this amazing mother, but I know the truth and I'm like, and I'm seen as a bad mother and she is, it is bad. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I mean, it is dangerous. It is amazing to listen to. But it's also, she's lauded as this great great mother and she's

Fritz Coleman  (00:32:51):

Doing it to ASU her own ego most of the time.

Liz Astrof (00:32:52):

Yes. I'm

Fritz Coleman  (00:32:53):

Sure that documentary about getting into college, did you see that called, oh my God, have you watched that? Loved it. And, and it was so sad because all it was was parents trying to fulfill their own.

Liz Astrof (00:33:04):

Yes. That's exactly what

Fritz Coleman  (00:33:05):

It is. Fantasies about themselves. So

Louise Palanker (00:33:07):

It's more like, your children are a presentation rather

Fritz Coleman  (00:33:09):

Than Precisely. And it was so sad.

Liz Astrof (00:33:11):

Right. So my thing also is that into what I was inarticulate saying before is that you don't have to ha having kids to make yourself feel better is so dis you're just setting yourself up for so much disappointment. Mm. We really only have ourselves <laugh>

Louise Palanker (00:33:28):


Liz Astrof (00:33:29):

Cupcakes because, and cupcakes because, you know, when I look at my kids sometimes I'm like, I apologize to the universe for bringing these resource sucking animals <laugh> into the world. So you can't count on your, you cannot count on your kids to, you know, to make a good difference or to be better than you were, anything like that. So these par parents who are so braggy about their kids and so proud of them, and then they're doing things that are so bad, you

Louise Palanker (00:33:59):

Have to give us at least one example. Come on. Um, with Uber mom

Liz Astrof (00:34:03):

Affairs. Oh, um, okay. Affairs.

Fritz Coleman  (00:34:08):

Yeah. So hypocrisy

Liz Astrof (00:34:09):

Is the big deal. Affairs, <laugh> Affairs and a minivan, which I think is amazing, amazing. I mean such good material. But a lot of that, and also even like dangerous stuff like leaving her kids at home when to affairs. Oh, I

Fritz Coleman  (00:34:23):

See <laugh>.

Liz Astrof (00:34:24):

Wow. But I would never like drinking and stuff. And I guess I always say I don't judge that stuff, but I'm more annoyed by it because I get, you know, when Covid came out, when they came out with c when that was, everybody thought that I was like the Ozarks at my house that she has to be, because I always put myself down and always say that I don't follow rules and stuff. But people thought we were having parties, we weren't doing anything. We were by ourselves. We weren't doing anything. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And because I don't come off as as terrified all the time. I wasn't cavalier in any way. But, um, but yeah. But these other moms fairs and drugs and driving on them is, they're seen as this, as these amazing, you know, safe great parents. Right.

Louise Palanker (00:35:15):

Because they're, they're, you know, somehow they're their spin doctor has gotten to that, that stuff that, so that it just really looks glossy and wonderful

Liz Astrof (00:35:23):

Before. And they raised their kids and realized that it's completely empty a lot of times. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So they gave up jobs, gave up careers, gave up jobs, gave everything up when their kids were little and cute. And then they are older and they're, I mean, they're gross, but having nothing to do with that. They don't need them as much anymore. So now what's their purpose? So a lot of people will, and I'm fascinated by that because I was always kind of judged for working, but thank God I have that.

Fritz Coleman  (00:35:53):

But I was gonna say, you, you were, you were, your title is with a wink. Yeah. A stay at Work mom, because that was your, it, it wasn't like you were just staying in your car in the Walmart parking lot till 10. You could go home after your kids were in bed, you were working all the time. And those sitcom writing jobs can be 18, 20 hours a day if you're close to Showtime. Right, right. So it wasn't that you were avoiding those responsibilities, that's just what the job entailed. Right. Being your and and your husband Todd had to be patient under those circumstances and Yes. All that.

Liz Astrof (00:36:24):

He was upset. And a lot of times I am, I would be the only mom in yoga at like six o'clock. Everyone's 24 from UCLA or 22 and I'm, I'm doing yoga because I'm very, the oxygen mask theory is what I blame. But I have to be, so my daughter would say to me sometimes she would say that her kids had, her friends had stay-at-home moms and they picked them up from school. And instead of saying, I miss you and I wish I could meet with you instead of lying, I would just say, that's really nice. And I said, but I really like what I do and it makes me a better mother because I don't want her to feel like, I don't think she's gonna be a great mother either. <laugh> I want her to feel like she shouldn't have her own career or have her own anything. And also I don't want her her to feel like I don't like what I do. Um, you're

Fritz Coleman  (00:37:11):

A, you're actually representing to her what, uh, uh, uh, a modern female should be, which is self-sustaining. Right. I like what I do and I'm not apologizing for it. I think that's a, a healthy representation

Liz Astrof (00:37:23):

For your daughter. Yeah. It's very hard though. Especially during the pandemic when they see me when they're home and they see what I look like, they don't really believe that I work <laugh>. They don't really, I'm coloring to think I'm, you know, I procrastinate as a writer constantly. So I'm on the Peloton or I'm going for a walk or I'm treading water in my pool at two o'clock in the afternoon, <laugh>. And it's really hard for me to say I'm working, leave me alone. But my husband had a job where he would be on zooms all day and have the door closed and I kept having to remind my kids that I'm just as important, but my mom and pajamas and I'm covered in like chocolate and cupcakes, <laugh>,

Louise Palanker (00:38:02):

Mommy's paid to have thoughts.

Liz Astrof (00:38:04):

Yeah. Thank you. Yes. Your mom is funny, right? Hello? Yes, I am. I'm funny. People think people, other people take me seriously and think my, I'm funny. Well it's funny cuz my kids both have like their stuff, like every other kid does. And I hope and, um, my son, I'm not supposed to be sarcastic around my son and I'm not supposed to talk fast to my daughter.

Louise Palanker (00:38:27):

Oh, that's

Liz Astrof (00:38:28):

A lot of rules. So it's imprisonment because I talk really fast and I'm very sarcastic. <laugh>. So being sarcastic, my son was, was he doesn't get sarcasm. So he always thought that I was going to kill myself <laugh> or, you know, everything was burning down or, you know, he always, he really believes that. And then I have to shout in his face that I'm kidding.

Louise Palanker (00:38:48):

What if you could say something sarcastic like, but with a certain hand signal that in that indicated sarcasm.

Liz Astrof (00:38:56):

Like a smack No

Louise Palanker (00:38:57):

Like, like a, like

Liz Astrof (00:38:58):

A like

Louise Palanker (00:38:59):

A, I will say like it's okay. That's

Liz Astrof (00:39:01):

A good idea. Yeah. I will say, um, I will say I'm, I'm being sarcastic. Don't you get sarcasm? But also, but that's what I wanna say. Like, what I was trying to inarticulately again get you, is that you don't need kids to make you, um, a full adult successful adult. You don't need kids to define you. You don't need, because I have a friend who didn't have kids and every time she's on the phone with me, she hangs up because it's loud and I get it and I'll have her describe na taking a nap to me. Like it's like porn. I'm like, okay. So you lie down. Yeah. You lie down on the couch or in your bed. I get right into bed. You get right into bed. Do you take your shoes off or do you act like you're like getting up and you fell <laugh>? I take my shoes off and I get into bed. Are you working? Do you have like something, like a school report? Something you're Nope, I just put everything away. But the lights are on. Nope. It's dark and I just, okay, so tell me what you, but what did you do when you first got home? <laugh>. So it's like constantly, there's always, the grass is always greener is what I'm saying. <laugh>.

Fritz Coleman  (00:40:02):

So, um, I, I was a divorced dad and I had joined custody with my children. So my favorite part of your book was the guilt trip because Yeah. When you are a divorced dad and you over, uh, accomplish every weekend. Yeah. Every weekend was a guilt trip. Of course was of the guilt. Yes. And I went to the Great Wolf Lodge, I think was yours the one in Anaheim Garden Grove or was it the one in Arizona? Yes, Anaheim. Yeah. Yeah. Oh my God. I had precisely the same experience you did <laugh>, the smell of chlorine, the bathing suit for my son's friend that we had to buy in the gift shop. The, uh, my God warning about, uh, cosmic diarrhea. Yeah. <laugh>. Oh my God. I I almost fell outta bed at reading that cuz it was just a perfect reflection. The experience. Oh God. I had the other one weekend is long enough.

Liz Astrof (00:40:53):

Oh my God. And then my friend abandoned me. My good mom friend abandoned me because her kid w had like 103 fever. I was like, it'll burn it. Just put her in that room. <laugh>, it'll, it'll suck it right out. <laugh> put her in the, just put her near the chlorine. But

Louise Palanker (00:41:08):

Every, every one of your stories comes with some little arc of you learning Yeah. And growing you teaching, you know, Phoebe how to, how to jump on the, from the trampoline up to the platform or eventually learning to go down the water slide and just, let's, we're here, let's just have some fun. Right. So you, you're always open to learning or to, uh, kind of advancing yourself. Like you, you have these kids and you love them. Yeah. And you repeat that Yes. Over, over and over in the book. So I don't, I don't question your, your love for your children. I just question, you know, why it is in nature that at the arc of your career is when you're at your childbearing years and the baby grows inside of us, the women. Right. And then, then you're supposed to still be this person with all these interests and then have this biological thing happen to you. Right. It's, and you've pulled it off. So I mean, I I love how honest you are because I think it's helpful for women, and I know I've seen them in, in an entire audience on Oprah. I've seen them saying, oh, you know, saying that they don't like being a mom and that, you know, and Oprah's giving them a chance to say it out loud for the first time. Right. Well, I mean, I think they like aspects of it, but like it's relentless.

Liz Astrof (00:42:23):

Yeah. It's relentless.

Louise Palanker (00:42:24):

And children are loud, loud. People look at pictures of that and they think they're quiet. You know, look at the picture. They're just, I know playing, you know, crashing a car with a little

Liz Astrof (00:42:34):

Boy, how I would always say my my car is lying down. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:42:37):

<laugh>, my car's having a

Liz Astrof (00:42:38):

Conversation, my crash in the shop getting an oil change. Um, but yeah, that's the thing. And at work has given me such an outlet because I had to go to work. And I think that stay being a stayat home mom is so much harder. It's so hard. It's so hard. I mean, if my car could fly and then what I do now, which I don't know if I should even say, but they're not gonna listen to this ever. They'll never hear that <laugh>. Um, they, what I would tell them now is I'll say, do you remember when we used to do something on Fridays? I would, we'd go to Starbucks and then mommy and me and we really did. And then they would say no. And I would say, oh, we also used to go to the, I was home for three. Your first three years. You don't remember that?

Louise Palanker (00:43:15):

Oh, this is revisionist history then?

Liz Astrof (00:43:16):

Yes. Okay. Completely. You could tell them anything. Sure. You don't remember when I used to take you to God, I'm sorry all

Dina (00:43:22):

The time to interrupt. I'm like relating so

Liz Astrof (00:43:23):

Hard. Oh, I love it. <laugh>

Dina (00:43:25):

Because like my traumatic childhood led me to want to be a better mom. And I tried so hard to be like the good mom and do all these things with my son. And I'm like, don't you remember like all the birthday parties and all the fun we had? He's like, no,

Liz Astrof (00:43:41):

No. <laugh>. I went to OT with my son. I left Raising Hope to go, um, and developed a show because I, I found out that in his kindergarten, in his nursery school class, he was having like cen I know so much stuff that I never would've known, but he was having issues separating and he wouldn't touch the sand and he wouldn't mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So he needed OT and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I made sure that I was home to take him and I, I did stuff like that. So I do show up all the time for them.

Louise Palanker (00:44:10):

Oh no, the whole term. Your

Dina (00:44:12):

Kids old, old Phoebe and Jesse.

Liz Astrof (00:44:13):

Phoebe just turned 13. Wow. And Jesse is 15, which is so weird to me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because they're not, they're like, they're still very, we've made it so that they can do nothing on their own <laugh>. Hmm. So, but I'm also, my hands are tied. There are so many things I can't do because my parents did them, them. So I have to basically, I have to be a lot nicer. I have to scream things into drawers is basically what it is. And my son has a lot of stuff and he needs a lot of extra care and he, um, and it's a challenge for me, like the sensory stuff. He has a d d a d H D O C D, you know, all kinds of stuff and, and doesn't get sarcasm. He is, he is

Louise Palanker (00:44:53):


Liz Astrof (00:44:54):

He's j that's the thing. I think he has like genetic memory of the Holocaust. <laugh>. I think he was,

Louise Palanker (00:44:59):

He could,

Liz Astrof (00:44:59):

He could, he could. I think he's not over it,

Louise Palanker (00:45:01):

But like how did you guys, how did you guys, man, I mean you do you have a couple of essays at the end about, about the pandemic, but with you being a stay at work mom. Yeah. How did you make it through the pandemic? Oh,

Liz Astrof (00:45:14):

It was terrible. Yeah. First of all, it was supposed to be two weeks.

Louise Palanker (00:45:18):


Liz Astrof (00:45:18):

Know. And it was, it was crazy. First of all, my second of all my son, we bought them lock a locker from Amazon, like a real tall, like locker locker. Which we thought was really funny in the beginning. But then every day, every 45 minutes, I would just hear every single hour and shutter. And also they, they need to eat a lot. And in the beginning, the lunches, it was cute. And then it just got terrible. And yeah, I had, it was very hard. And also I would disappear for hours and hours to go to yoga. That was part of my thinking time. And I would go to yoga in Santa Monica from the Valley, which is really stupid. And I would be gone for hours. But now I have to do yoga. I still do because my studio's closed. I have to do yoga in a corner in my bedroom.


And my daughter coming in asking for money or like, just covered and cheesed dust. Like it's just, it was terrible. It's terrible. And even now, and then my husband's on his Zoom. It was hard actually. It was terrible. It was terrible. I had a pilot that became a show, but we had to shut down right before the pandemic and we shut down in the pandemic and then we didn't film it for another year. And when we did film it, I wanted them to come by the set so they could see that I actually did do something mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And they couldn't come by the set because of Covid. So they kind of drove by, but they had to drive such large perimeters that there was nothing there,

Louise Palanker (00:46:46):


Liz Astrof (00:46:48):

So they don't really, they don't, um, get it. But it was, I was so happy to get out of there that I, and it, I was so grateful to have a pilot that it was in the depths of Covid and we had people with six foot poles, um, keeping us apart. And we were in hazmat suits and you know, we had to be, but it was still, I wouldn't, I loved every minute of it. Ugh. And I was vaccinated cuz I waited in line at Dodger Stadium for six hours one day. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:47:15):


Liz Astrof (00:47:15):

Oh God. To get an

Louise Palanker (00:47:16):

Extra one day when we're very old, we're gonna tell our first vaccination stories. We'll be like in some nursing home going, remember when we drove for 17 hours? Oh, oh

Liz Astrof (00:47:24):


Louise Palanker (00:47:25):

God. Yeah. I

Liz Astrof (00:47:26):


Fritz Coleman  (00:47:27):

Oh good. I I told you you're, your, your, um, your childhood reminded me of a horror movie. Aw. Starring Nev Campbell <laugh> and uh Oh

Liz Astrof (00:47:39):

Right, right, right.

Fritz Coleman  (00:47:40):

Just because of all the darkness in your life. And no six year old girl should have to hide under her bed from her mother. And you did. But I, but there are other aspects that really would make this a great horror movie. So I think after this book burns itself out and you become wildly successful with it, I think you should write a movie about it. And then have Jimmy the ventral vent. The dummy Jimmy, the ventriloquist dummy.

Liz Astrof (00:48:06):

I can show you a picture of Jim you have on

Fritz Coleman  (00:48:08):

My phone. Please tell me about Jimmy. The ventriloquist dummy.

Louise Palanker (00:48:12):

That was so

Liz Astrof (00:48:13):

Dark. My mother had another child, which was her ventriloquist dummy named Jimmy. Yeah. And he had eyes that opened and closed at will, um, giant blue eyes and, um, with big fluttering eyelids. And we shared clothes. I knew that, I know I wore his hand me downs. But, and he had a, a sc one of those bandanas, a red bandana. And he had like, he had plastic hair that came to a swirl. He looked like Bob's big boy, but like in a horror movie. Okay. And my mother would always say that if you come live with me, you can have Jimmy, which was not a selling point. And then

Fritz Coleman  (00:48:49):

Your mom actually did a, did a ventriloquist act

Liz Astrof (00:48:51):

In her life. Yes. She was terrible. So my mom, my mom never finished anything. So that's also what drives me, what gets me like out of bed, is that she never, ever finished anything. And she was a terrible ventriloquist. She may as well just talked and, and she, um, so that was, that was a part of her. But when I, when I, she did kidnap me, um, and I ran under her bed. I was face to face with Jimmy. And um, at that point I didn't care what happened to me. I was like, kill me Jimmy. Please, please get those lifeless arms around my neck. But I actually felt sorry for him because I was getting out and he wasn't. But it was the creepiest don't add a clown <laugh> that, you know what I mean? Don't add a clown to a bad enough childhood. No course

Louise Palanker (00:49:37):

<laugh>. So

Fritz Coleman  (00:49:37):

Describing that scene when you're under your bed and there are the eyes and Jimmy,

Liz Astrof (00:49:41):

Yes. Staring me.

Fritz Coleman  (00:49:41):

Life eyes.

Liz Astrof (00:49:43):

Yes. Staring rosy cheeks and yellow. P

Louise Palanker (00:49:46):

So has your mother been properly diagnosed so that you can kind of frame this around? Oh, she was on like a whole bunch of spectrums that are real ugly when aligned or intersecting. So I, because I mean, you're reading it and you're, you're, it's your six year old memory, but the adult reading it is like, this woman is mentally cr ill and crazy. Yeah. And dangerous to children. Yes.

Liz Astrof (00:50:10):

She definitely, that's the thing is I have a heart when people blame mental illness, cuz I certainly have enough of it. It's in our, you know, it's in our genes. But, um, I think that she's bipolar. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I think she is a borderline personality. I've diagnosed her. Yeah. From, that's Joan Didion's book. Um, magical thinking, but it's, it's also but very mentally ill and unchecked and also mean. Yeah. So it's not really an excuse. Like when people say people, you know, when there's a mass shooting and someone blames mental illness and says that's the real problem. I think that's not that. Yes, mental illness is a giant problem, but you can't, it's not an excuse. So with her,

Fritz Coleman  (00:50:54):

Are both your parents still

Liz Astrof (00:50:55):

Alive? Yes, my dad. And we're close and

Fritz Coleman  (00:50:57):

I'm, I'm happy to hear that cuz I was saying you're so wildly successful and I hope even with a dysfunction, your family, your parents appreciate what you've accomplished in your life and your brother as well.

Liz Astrof (00:51:07):

Yeah, yeah, for sure. Jeff was a done, like, he was going to be very successful. I think I'm a big surprise. I think I'm a sleeper. Hit

Louise Palanker (00:51:15):

<laugh>. No, I, I think that everybody knew what your potential was, but Jeff was in a position to facilitate

Liz Astrof (00:51:22):

That and it was a misogynistic time more so, or it, you know, it was definitely, my dad definitely wanted me to meet someone who would take care of me. And when I would burp the Star Spangled Banner, he would be very worried that that was never going to happen. <laugh>.

Louise Palanker (00:51:38):

But I mean, I, I, that is, that's a talent. It

Liz Astrof (00:51:42):

Wa I'd used to drink a lot of Diet Coke, but I don't anymore. So that

Fritz Coleman  (00:51:44):

What was your first professional writing job?

Liz Astrof (00:51:47):

Um, it was on this show, Jesse, um, which was also the same producers as friends. And what happened was, um, I had gone through the Warner Brothers writing program and we were, we were told my, I had a partner at the time and we were told that we only got into the program because someone canceled. So every single day we were told that. But, so we got a job on the show, Jesse. And that was my first, our first writing job as a, as a team. I had a partner back then.

Louise Palanker (00:52:20):

Oh, I love the stories about your partner. That was so interesting.

Liz Astrof (00:52:23):

Ironically, my partner is now my nephew's, um, therapist is now my nephew's educational therapist. Oh. So my brother would hear her screaming in the house at her, at his son. And it was like this, these memories of us writing together in his house, <laugh>, it was just like, isn't that crazy? In such a small world. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I, I But she found her calling. She never should. She should have been.

Louise Palanker (00:52:51):

I mean, I think there's all kinds of really interesting intersections in life that you weren't mostly not aware of. You walked by the, by someone on the street that you could have a like a hundred friends in common or that went to King with you or whatever. And like, I was probably one of Jeff's first friends when he moved to la.

Liz Astrof (00:53:08):

Really? Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:53:10):

Because he and Mike knew, he and Mike knew my, my friend Melinda,

Liz Astrof (00:53:14):

Wait a minute. Melinda was my first friend in La

Louise Palanker (00:53:17):

Melinda, we love you Mal. We love you Mal. We

Liz Astrof (00:53:21):

Love you.

Louise Palanker (00:53:21):

So, and then when you were describing like how much Jeff hated, um, hospitals, it's like I have this like blurry memory of opening my eyes from surgery and Jeff's there. Wow. So I don't know how he brought himself to visit me. That's

Liz Astrof (00:53:35):

That's love.

Louise Palanker (00:53:36):


Liz Astrof (00:53:37):

That's love.

Louise Palanker (00:53:37):

It was so sweet.

Liz Astrof (00:53:38):

That's so sweet. That's so Are you sure it was him? How out of were you?

Louise Palanker (00:53:42):

I mean maybe we could see if he has the same memory. <laugh>.

Liz Astrof (00:53:45):

<laugh>. That's really nice. He can't handle any kind of medical. Yeah. Um, so I don't know. So yeah,

Fritz Coleman  (00:53:51):

Sorry. So you, you, you as a sitcom writer had this odd experience that my other friends who do your job, um, uh, have experienced and that is writing a show for a comic and you wrote for Tim Allen and some of my friends have written for Roseanne. And that can be a double-edged sword on many levels. Oh yeah. Because they often think they're funnier than the material provided for them. Right. And it becomes really dicey. Just talk about that.

Liz Astrof (00:54:19):

It was, and also Kevin James. Um, but Tim spent a lot of the time when I was there saying that he did not wanna be doing this. Mm-hmm. And did not wanna go back to tv.

Louise Palanker (00:54:31):

Kinda like you with

Liz Astrof (00:54:32):

Parenting and Yeah. Yes, exactly. <laugh> like, I don't know how this happened. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I did not wanna do this. And he was very grumpy. And if we would go, if we would go pitch something, everything that went by him, he had a tour bus as a, um, dressing room. So we had to go on the magical misery bus and pitch it to him.

Louise Palanker (00:54:50):

<laugh>. But

Liz Astrof (00:54:51):

He felt like he would always say like, I would never do that. I'm a 65 year old man. Why would I do that if my wife wants me to go to a party? I'm just not gonna go. And we would say, but your character

Louise Palanker (00:55:00):


Liz Astrof (00:55:01):

So it wasn't as much that he was trying to be funny <laugh>, he just didn't wanna be there. But then did contrarian, always contrarian. Always a contrarian. Yes. And then so, and then the show went on forever. So I mean it really did go on a long time. I was only there that first, that first year was terrible. But it was, it was. Um, and then with Kevin, he would, um, if he was feeling really bad about himself, he would say, um, we couldn't put fat jokes in the script. And then if the show was bombing with the audience, he would come over to the podium and say, I need fat jokes. And I would say, I have a hundred <laugh>, so let's get started. <laugh>

Louise Palanker (00:55:41):


Liz Astrof (00:55:42):

But he didn't like it when other comics got laughs he would shut everything down.

Louise Palanker (00:55:47):

Yeah. See that's the Wow. Yeah. Everyone has their

Liz Astrof (00:55:50):


Louise Palanker (00:55:51):

Whatever their weakness. Let's, let's just call it. All right. What are you working on now? Because we're gonna wrap this up cause it's Thanksgiving week and I don't wanna spend all day Thanksgiving editing this show as good as it cupcakes

Fritz Coleman  (00:56:01):

To eat. Let's wrap this. And

Louise Palanker (00:56:02):

We have cupcakes. So you're on Twitter, you're on Instagram. Come

Liz Astrof (00:56:05):

On Instagram. Mostly

Louise Palanker (00:56:05):

Folks can find you and they can absolutely read your book. Yes. And what are, what are you working on now?

Liz Astrof (00:56:11):

So now I'm working on, I'm waiting to hear about a pilot at ABC that I should be hearing about any day. And I am also going to be adapting this book into a show. Yes. That, um, with flashbacks to my childhood that kind of explain my behavior. Now

Fritz Coleman  (00:56:28):

A one person show?

Liz Astrof (00:56:30):

No, it would be like, it would be a cast of characters. My brother and I are the main relationship and then the kids. Oh man. And then going back, I think that what I would like to do is have the portal to the flashbacks be, um, my stu my 13 year old self stuck in a bat mitzvah dress in a mirror. That's my inner voice. Oh my God. And so that's how we get back to those, those times. So that's what, um, that's, that's what I'm working on too. And I just,

Fritz Coleman  (00:56:57):

Incidentally, a mirror plays a very pivotal role in your thing. Yes. As a matter of fact, that was such a touching runner that you had in there talking about all the things that your mirror had seen you do in your life. Right. All the way up through the Molly Ringwald runner. Yes, yes. It was really sweet. And every kid had that same experience with her mirror anyway.

Liz Astrof (00:57:15):

Yeah. And it was, it's so crazy that that mirror followed me

Louise Palanker (00:57:17):

At the door. So I see the opening shot of

Liz Astrof (00:57:19):

The showy, please, I don't

Louise Palanker (00:57:20):

Remember, starts in a mirror and then pulls band <laugh> because that's never happened in a movie. So <laugh>,

Liz Astrof (00:57:26):

My husband is mad because not mad, but I described him in the book as, um, having slightly above average good looks, which I think is really nice. And the reason I said slightly is because if I said good looks, then it would mean that I could have a husband that had good looks. Look. So I was like, can't you, you can't even, I said I was really putting myself down. And by the way, that's not bad. I didn't say slightly below

Louise Palanker (00:57:51):

Average. I'm gonna say this. Your relationship with your husband is adorable. It is <laugh>. It is. I love the way he just kind of flows with me. With you. Yeah. No, he doesn't put

Liz Astrof (00:58:03):

Up. He just thank you.

Louise Palanker (00:58:04):

He doesn't, it's a natural rhythm to

Fritz Coleman  (00:58:06):

Him. One time you texted him and said, I'm going to kill myself. And he said, I'll help you.

Liz Astrof (00:58:11):

Yes. <laugh>. We do joke like that. He does.

Fritz Coleman  (00:58:13):

He must have a great sense of

Liz Astrof (00:58:14):

Humor. He has such a, when he gets to talk, he is <laugh> on my show Pivoting, um, that I just had on Fox, the husband, um, Tommy Dewey's character was very much modeled after my husband and I used stories. I didn't even have to make anything up because all of these stories actually happened with my husband. Ah, so

Louise Palanker (00:58:34):


Liz Astrof (00:58:34):

But one thing that happened the other day, I'll just tell you quickly, is I write at the Qury a lot in nCino and I was there and I found out I had a Zoom with ABC to get notes at six o'clock and it was five o'clock and I needed to get home and I was frantic and my keys were gone. So I had no idea. It was like a fever dream where my keys were my, no one had seen them and they know me there, I lose everything. No one had seen them, they weren't anywhere. So I had to ask my husband to unlock my car from where he was and he unlocked it and I had to take the zoom in the dark. Um, and all of a sudden I see a flashlight going around my car and it was my husband looking on the ground for the keys.


And, um, he didn't find them, but he went into Coral tree and I was like watching kind of while I was on the Zoom. And then, then he came out a few minutes later, he opened the door and he goes, they were in the ladies' room bathroom, gar, they were in the ladies' room garbage and throws them to me and said, I'll see you at home. Oh. I was like, thanks Todd. Like, just, that's a show. And then the people on the Zoom are like, this happens. And I said, on a daily basis it doesn't even looks like you

Louise Palanker (00:59:37):

Were trying to lose them. Like they were a murder weapon.

Liz Astrof (00:59:40):

I know. In the garbage in the ladies room. But how careless that I just threw them out.

Louise Palanker (00:59:45):

I know, but he knows. He's like, what would Keys do if they were Liz's? Oh, let me look at,

Liz Astrof (00:59:52):

I know he tracks me though. He has like, I have a tile, I have a air tag, and then I'll say, you're tracking me.

Louise Palanker (00:59:58):

He's been chipped.

Liz Astrof (00:59:59):

And he's like, I have to, you know,

Louise Palanker (01:00:02):


Liz Astrof (01:00:03):

His heart. I know. Yes.

Louise Palanker (01:00:04):

All right. With love to Todd, we're gonna read the closing credits. Thank you so much for joining us. We would love to continue this conversation with you on Instagram and Twitter where we are at Media Path Pod and on Facebook where our show page is, media Path Podcast. And our Facebook group is Media Path with Fritz and Weezy podcast community. You can find full video podcast episodes loaded with bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. You can write to us at media path podcast And if you enjoy this show, please give us a nice rating in Apple Podcasts and talk about us favorably to your friends on social media. You can sign up for our fun and dishing And we wanna thank our wonderful guest, Liz Astro here in person. She brought Cup.

Fritz Coleman  (01:00:44):

Please, please, Christ stay at work. Mom for Somebo, an adult you love for Christmas. Yes. It will just be the sav you need for

Louise Palanker (01:00:52):

The, so not an adult, her children. They're not supposed to read it. Our team includes Dina Friedman, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill Philipp, FIAC, Thomas, Hubble, Mason Brown, Garrett Arch, and you Thank you to our in-studio audience, Lisa Arch and Linda Brown, the great Linda Brown. Our theme music is by me and John Maddox. I'm Louise Flanker here with Fritz Coleman. Be well and wise and we will see you along the media path.


Liz Astrof (01:01:22):

So much Fun. I love it, by the way. Thank you. By the way, the, um, I, that's so funny that you know, wom.

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