ANNIE KORZEN was the recurring Doris Klompus on SEINFELD. She had the honor of touring with The Moth Mainstage storytelling show throughout the U.S. and can be heard on THE MOTH RADIO HOUR. Annie is well-known in the spoken word circuit in Los Angeles and New York, and she teaches storytelling. Annie has performed her solo shows on three continents. She is the author of BARGAIN JUNKIE: Living the Good Life on the Cheap, and has done humorous essays for NPR’s Morning Edition, The NY Times, LA Times, LA Jewish Journal, AARP, and many more. Annie has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and Tavis Smiley. The late Roger Ebert loved her on Old Jews Telling Jokes. Annie is sometimes happily married to Danish film producer Benni Korzen (Oscar-winning BABETTE'S FEAST.)
You are known for being highly opinionated. Where did that come from, or is it genetic?
I just happen to think the world would be a better place if everyone would just do what I say. You have a problem with that?
Where did you grow up and what led to your decision to become a performer?
I grew up in the Bronx, and used to sit out on the fire escape, dreaming of starring in movies.
Most people first became aware of you through your recurring role of Doris Klompus on “Seinfeld”. What were the highlights of your performing career prior to that role?
I've never really graduated from being a "bit player." Producers call me in when they need an actress who can get a laugh on one line.
You perform personal stories on stage and also teach personal story writing and storytelling. What are the elements of a good personal story, both in writing and performing?
A great story is about a dramatic event that led you - unwillingly - on a journey that then changed you in some way - hopefully, for the better.
You wrote the book, BARGAIN JUNKIE: Living the Good Life on the Cheap. What prompted you to write it, and could you share one of your favorite living cheap suggestions from it?
I've always been a thriftomaniac, partly from necessity, and partly by choice. Here's one tip: when you're searching for something on eBay, misspell it. People list things with typos. I found a great Mexican silver bracelet for 12 bucks, because I searched for Mexican Sliver and I was the only bidder.
What part does Judaism play in your life and in your art?
I'm not at all religious, but I certainly identify as a Jewish woman. Some have even called me "a typical Jewish woman." I suspect that's not meant as a compliment.
Did your friends or family give you any push-back when they discovered you planned to marry a non-Jew from Denmark?
Benni is actually a Danish Jew.
Your marriage is successful and long-lasting. What’s the key(s) to such a relationship?
We could never have afforded a divorce, so we decided to just stick it out and make the best of it.
Did you have formal training as an actress or writer?
I studied acting in NY with the great Bill Esper. Writing just developed from doing comedy improv, which is writing on your feet.
Who are your role models, or simply those you admire, in the acting and storytelling worlds?
I like the women who act their own words. Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, the usual suspects
What were the nature of your interviews on Oprah Winfrey’s and Tavis Smiley’s shows?
I suggested to Oprah's producers that they do a show about Ethnic Men who Reject their Own Women. I was invited as an expert witness. I saw Tavis Smiley in a restaurant, and told him that I was dining there with a hundred dollar discount coupon. He was so impressed that he interviewed me about thrifty living on his radio show.
You’ve said you’ve learned that only when one lets go and gives up control that things fall into place. Is there a reason for that, or is that just how things happened to have worked out in your life?
I think we all have to be open to the unexpected rather than hold fast to some kind of false idea we have about what will make us happy. Does that sound very Zen?
There’s a rumor you spent time in a Danish psychiatric ward. Please elaborate.
My son was born in Denmark, and I had a severe postpartum depression. It was a laugh riot.
What’s still on your bucket list?
I'd like Stephen Sondheim to write a song for me. I'd like to write and star in a sit-com called ANNIE'S WORLD. I'd like sweet-potato-fries with every meal.
Are there any pluses to growing older?
Wisdom. Self-knowledge. And the great pleasure of a shared history with friends and family and colleagues. I am now best friends with the CHILDREN of my best friends!
Any hobbies or interests aside from show biz?
Word games, ethnic food, travel, languages, and I'd really like to learn salsa dancing.
What’s one thing that would surprise people to know about you?
I'm afraid of just about everything.
If you had a full day to do anything at all, how would you spend it?
Beach walk with my husband, hit a few thrift shops, dinner in an outdoor restaurant where they make frozen margaritas.
Your desert island choices for:
Book: Anything by a woman about a woman.
Movie? Babette's Feast.
Play: Fiddler on the Roof.
Food: Cold sesame noodles, New York style.
Music: Folk rock with close harmonies.
Anyone in history for conversation: Leonard Cohen, so he could explain the lyrics to me.
Anyone in history for romance (other than your husband): Paul Newman.
Annie Korzen’s new one-woman show, ANNIE KORZEN FAMOUS ACTRESS (Life Begins at 60) will premiere at Jewish Women’s Theatre of Los Angeles on July 8th, 2017, and play through August 13th at:
2912 Colorado Ave #102
Santa Monica, CA 90404