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Annabelle Gurwitch

New York Times Bestselling author, humorist, popular television host and storyteller.

  • About Annabelle Gurwitch

    Actress, activist and New York Times-bestselling author Annabelle Gurwitch’s books include, I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 and her latest collection of essays, Wherever You Go, There They Are: Stories About My Family You Might Relate To. I See You Made an Effort was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor Writing. Television audiences fondly remember her numerous years co-hosting Dinner & a Movie on TBS and as a regular commentator on NPR. She offers opinions on PBS Newshour and Real Time with Bill Maher, as well as appearing at performing arts centers around the country.

    Her other books are You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up and Fired! which was also a Showtime Comedy Special. Her essays and satire appear in The New YorkerThe New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Time, and many other publications.

    Gurwitch’s work has been recognized in Time Magazine’s “Ten Ideas That are Changing the World” annual issue.

    Media appearances include:  CBS Early Show, The Today Show, Dr. Oz, Anderson Cooper Show, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, MSNBC and The Oprah Winfrey Show. As an actress, she’s guest starred in over fifty TV series, including: Better Things, Dexter, Boston Legal, and Seinfeld. In addition to Dinner and a Movie, she was the anchor of the award winning series, Not Necessarily the News, on HBO, the host of the sustainability series WA$TED, as well as numerous shows on the web, Style Channel and ABC.

    An insightful and engaging speaker, her live appearances include: the TEDx stage, SXSW, The Moth Mainstage, New York Comedy Festival, GOOGLE Talks, Prevention Magazine Summit, 92nd St Y, UJA and Federation annual events, three Jewish Book Council Book Tours, The Carter Center, Watermark Conference for Women, as well as serving as MC for events at The National Wildlife Federation, Fielding School of Public Health, Cedar Sinai Women’s, and The Skirball Center for the Arts.

    She is a Jewish mother, a reluctant atheist, and an ardent environmentalist. She is empty nesting in Los Angeles.

  • Speaking Topics

    I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50

    On Making an Effort

    O, The Oprah Magazine calls Annabelle Gurwitch "entertaining and slyly subversive" and she covers both the hilarious and horrible opportunities that face the women d'un certain age with her trademark wit and cultural commentary. Gurwitch tells stories included in her memoir, I See You Made an Effort, that range from planning her future retirement in an elder hostel in Costa Rica to navigating the extensive anti-aging offerings in the department store beauty counter to aiding in the assisted suicide of her best friend that Bill Maher says are "unexpected, imaginative... her observations just plain crack me up."

    One Jewish Girl's Journey from the Stage to the Page

    Annabelle Gurwitch's unlikely career has taken her from performing Linda in Death of a Salesman at age thirteen at Temple Beth Shalom in Miami Beach (mercifully, no videotape exists of this performance) to her accidental career in comedy, including her numerous years hosting HBO's Not Necessarily the News and Dinner and a Movie on TBS, to her transformation into a writer. Her work off-Broadway has earned her inclusion in the New York Times' Top Ten Performances of the Year. With her tenure at NPR and now with three books to her name, she is the ultimate re-inventor and she's a Jewish mother to boot.

    Finding the Funny

    Annabelle Gurwitch mines humor from even the most challenging of situations. Drawing upon her satirical observations about culture, her life as a actor, writer, mother, and activist, she’s delivered hilarious and insightful talks on this theme on the TEDx stage, The Moth, SXSW, Jewish groups and The Nation Magazine Cruise to Alaska, and UNC School of the Arts.

    Aging with a Vengeance

    Annabelle shares wisdom and her laugh out loud account of aging in our youth obsessed culture. She has performed this acclaimed material at theater festivals around the world, the 92nd St Y, Prevention Magazine, AARP conventions, and ladies nights for women’s groups nationwide.

    We’ll Treat You Like Family

    Annabelle speaks about the importance and insanity of families: the ones we’re born into and the tribes we chose to join. Her talks for audiences of all ages include venues: The Now Generation Women’s Philanthropy of Phoenix, GOOGLE Talks,The Skirball Center for the Arts, and the Rancho Mirage Writers Conference.

    The Redemptive Power of Memoir

    Gurwitch speaks on the power of memoir to redeem and reclaim meaning in our past and provide direction for our futures. Lectures and talks include: George Washington University, Watermark Conference for Women, literary fests and performing arts centers. You can view her IMHO on reading books versus binge watching, you can guess which side she comes down on, on the PBS News Hour.

    Annabelle Gurwitch on Jewish Themes

    Gurwitch regularly speaks on the legacy of her Jewish heritage, Jewish humor, the immigrant experience, and her grandmother’s leaden matzoh ball soup at events honoring Jewish philanthropists including: keynoting Women of Valor for the MetroWest JCC, 2017, Spring Lecturer for the Charlottesville Federation, and delivering the keynote for the New York UJA Annual Women’s Spring Luncheon, 2018.

  • Video

  • Praise for Annabelle Gurwitch


    Annabelle is a must-host speaker for a “Girls Night out” program – she created a terrific communal evening and provided much needed laughter for the huge turnout of “girls” in the house! Great rapport with the crowd!

    JCC, Indianapolis

    Annabelle was the Master of Ceremonies for the Annual Dinner for Services for the Underserved. Not only was she charming, funny, warm and insightful in how she represented our organization. Annabelle’s special combination of humor and compassion set the perfect tone for the event.

    Services for the Underserved, New York

    Annabelle Gurwitch presented to a full house in Greenwich. It was a wonderful way to begin the day laughing hysterically with her witty and poignant remarks about the tenuous position of life on the edge of 50. Her talk was both meaningful and provocative that each woman in the diverse audience could relate to. I can’t wait to share Annabelle’s magic with more of my friends.

    JCC, Greenwich

    I couldn’t be more pleased with Annabelle’s closing keynote presentation. She brought incredible energy, substance, and humor to our event. The audience of 450 finished the day inspired and smiling! It was not surprising to hear how much the group enjoyed her addition to the conference.

    Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), Washington, DC

    Quick wit, intelligent humor , heart and soul –just what the many doctors at our event ordered!

    UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

    Razor sharp wit, intelligent humor, heart, laughter and neshama!

    Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles, CA

    Annabelle was an excellent speaker, very funny and insightful, she got rave reviews!

    Los Angeles Bar Association

    Praise for You’re Leaving When?

    Annabelle Gurwitch is so funny that, even when bad things happen, she writes about them in a brilliantly entertaining way.

    Dave Barry

    Everyone needs a friend to guide them through the American middle class in decline, and you couldn’t do better than Annabelle Gurwitch. She is sharp-eyed, un-foolable, and hilarious.

    Barbara Ehrenreich

    In this surprisingly upbeat memoir, Annabelle Gurwitch writes about the financial curveballs that can hit you in midlife . . . Somehow, Ms. Gurwitch manages to find humor in these setbacks. Ultimately, this is a story about harnessing resilience and learning how life’s disappointments can teach you about the things that matter most.

    Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times

    In her new collection of essays, You’re Leaving When?Adventures in Downward Mobility, she writes with hilarious poignancy about tackling midlife malaise on an austerity budget.

    Los Angeles Magazine

    Reading . . . will most likely feel like a long, intimate chat with your funniest friend . . . Collections of funny essays are everywhere these days, often penned by celebrities and comedians. But unlike some of the stars who manage to get away with meandering ‘observations,’ Gurwitch connects deeply with both a life stage—middle age—and our current cultural moment . . . Gurwitch is a very entertaining writer and she is best when she’s telling her own story in her own funny voice.

    Samantha Schoech, San Francisco Chronicle

    [Gurwitch] trains a skeptical eye on her era’s foibles in the manner of a Dorothy Parker, leavens it with the housefrau elan of an Erma Bombeck, and spices it with her own witty, irrepressible personality . . . She can be as deadly tackling the siren song of consumer culture, the pervasiveness of wellness fads and the travails that beset middle-age women as she is on homelessness, social inequities, economic vulnerability, and the inevitable sacrifices of a life in the arts. Yet all with a breezy touch, delivering the occasional razor-sharp bon mot.

    Bill Thompson, Charleston Post and Courier

    In her sixth book, You’re Leaving When? Adventures in Downward Mobility, Annabelle Gurwitch goes where many women fear to tread, sharing hilarious, gut-punching midlife moments with her signature wit and honesty. Taboo topics — loss of identity, sex, divorce, financial fears, finding your teen’s drug stash!—are laid bare and you’re drawn to her like the woman at a cocktail party who blurts out exactly what you’re thinking, but are too afraid to say.

    Danielle Manion, AARP’s The Girlfriend

    There’s a valuable universality throughout Gurwitch’s work, thanks to her sharp sense of humor and complete lack of shame . . . You can take some solace that you are (far from) alone in your plight, and if you’re lucky you can laugh about it as well.

    Gwen Ihnat, The A.V. Club

    “Annabelle Gurwitch is funny. She is wry, witty, and a master of the bon mot . . . Her new book gathers a series of connected essays that will make you laugh out loud.

    Diana Wagman, Alta

    Droll, self-deprecating Gurwitch is very funny––like Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but delivering not so much one-liners or gags as stories that shift life’s viewfinder. Misadventures in the gig economy, fashions, wellness fads, and parenting might sink another writer, but Gurwitch’s wit, warmth, and generosity universalize them.

    The National Book Review

    While her general take on all this is humorous, she writes with empathy and knowledge that her situation is nowhere near rock bottom. There are also many heartfelt moments, especially surrounding her nonbinary child. This is mostly fun stuff, but it’s also honest, confronting difficult and unexpected situations that many middle-aged women may find themselves in. Gurwitch is an excellent companion to navigate the fraught future with.


    Erma Bombeck meets Dorothy Parker in this topical and often laugh-out-loud funny take on our modern malaise . . . Gurwitch possesses an appealingly cockeyed sense of humor, and she offers incisive takes on consumer culture and our contemporary confusions and lighthearted (though pointed) opinions on the travails that beset many middle-age women. In a consistently engaging narrative rich with personal anecdotes, the author pokes fun at her misadventures in love, work, and home maintenance, but she also addresses other pressing matters—economic vulnerability in the gig economy, social inequities, raising nonbinary children, friendship, homelessness, wellness fads, the challenges of a life in the arts, and the mysteries of Zoom—with a similarly breezy touch that is surprisingly effective . . . Gurwitch is a likable exemplar of the I’d-rather-laugh-about-it-than-cry-about-it philosophy.

    Kirkus Reviews

    Gurwitch’s perspective on both the major and the mundane will be relatable to anyone who understands how the American Dream has devolved into a fever dream . . . Her stories are as personal as they are universal . . . The latest from Gurwitch will have readers rolling with laughter one minute and picking up the phone to commiserate with friends or family the next. The author is a delightful eccentric aunt-to-all with her wit, caring, and unbeknown-to-her wisdom. For fans of Nora Ephron and Sloane Crosely alike.”

    Library Journal

    Gen X was promised the American Dream but instead found downward mobility, job insecurity, and non-stop caregiving. In her timely essays about boomerang kids, pandemic coworking, and post-divorce dating, Annabelle Gurwitch mines our generational ill luck for humor and insight as only a resilient latchkey kid can: with an arched brow and a gimlet eye.

    Ada Calhoun, author of the New York Times bestseller Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis

    Praise for Wherever You Go, There They Are

    Sagacious wit and soulful insights with a dash of Nora Ephron.

    Coast Magazine

    A smart, edgy writer…As a memoirist, Gurwitch succeeds by evoking emotions that cut to the core of our humanity, and giving us laughs along the way.

    Los Angeles Review of Books

    A vivacious confessional… The memoir’s madcap joy is the entire Gurwitch clan of scenery chewers…With her moonshine-smuggling forebears and her brothel matron great-grandmother, Gurwitch joins the shell-shocked ranks of dysfunctional-family chroniclers Augusten Burroughs and Sean Wilsey.

    O Magazine

    Once I started Wherever You Go, There They Are, I couldn’t put it down. This book is hysterically, laugh-out-loud funny—take it on an airplane and be prepared to enjoy your flight.

    Judy Greer, actress and author of I Don’t Know What You Know Me From

    I love spending time under the spell of Annabelle Gurwitch, who lived all these crackpot adventures so we don’t have to. Her unforgettable stories about family and other disasters remind us how insane this world can be, and how necessary our laughter.

    Sarah Hepola, author of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

    In Wherever You Go, There They Are Annabelle Gurwitch takes inspiration from her own life to examine that most horrible of all human conditions: family. She makes a compelling case for community, while arguing for a definition that eschews tribalism… hilarious and insightful…

    Bill Maher

    Praise for I See You Made an Effort

    The stories in Annabelle Gurwitch's book are unexpected, imaginative and her observations just plain cracked me up. It's so great it should be required reading for everyone between the ages of 40 and death. Scratch that—even after death it's a must-read.

    Bill Maher
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