Greenwich Time: Author Gurwitch visits Greenwich to talk about her newest memoir
Actress, comedian and author Annabelle Gurwitch speaks about her new memoir "Wherever You Go, There They Are" at Back 40 Kitchen in Greenwich, Conn. Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Presented by JCC Greenwich, Gurwitch provided laughs while talking about relatable family stories found in her new book.
GREENWICH — When Annabelle Gurwitch greeted an intimate audience at Back 40 Kitchen on Greenwich Avenue Tuesday morning, she thanked them for being her good-luck charm.
The former “Dinner and a Movie” host returned to Greenwich after two and a half years for her “Wherever You Go, There They Are” book tour, discussing aging parents and dysfunctional families through a joint program by JCC Greenwich and the Jewish Book Council.
Gurwitch said Greenwich is her good-luck charm because her first comedic series of essays, “I See You Made and Effort,” made the New York Times Best Seller list after she spoke in town.
“We are a species that needs families and tribes,” said Gurwitch.
Although technology exists to assist mankind, she said, the human brain hasn’t changed much since the species’ earliest iteration.
“What we need as humans is community,” she said.
Gurwitch’s memoir talks about a universal need to belong — whether through work or prayer groups or elsewhere; it also talks about caring for her aging parents and making difficult decisions.
Tracy Daniels, a Stamford resident affiliated with JCC Greenwich, said she could “certainly relate to the topic. As Annabelle said, she captures the dissonance between expectations and reality.”
Gurwitch, between talking about her parents, their preferred senior-living facilities and her Facebook page full of pet memorials, also touched upon current events.
She told her audience that, while on her way to LAX to visit her home town of Mobile, Ala. after more than 30 years away, her Uber driver told her that he was unable to return to his home town because he was from Syria.
Gurwitch mentioned an Alabama proposal to ban Syrian refugees — “because we don’t know anything about them.” Gurwitch reminded her audience that at one time her family was, too, was the other in a foreign land.
So, she invited the Syrian Uber driver became a part of the large dysfunctional Gurwitch family.
The repurposed style of the restaurant — dark-stained, communal wooden tables and simplistic metal chairs, with the morning’s natural sun pouring in — harkened back to the era when her family immigrated to the United States, as fur-trappers and moonshiners in Mobile Ala., Gurwitch said.
“She is so sentimental,” said Madeline Simon, a Greenwich resident. “I know her from her TV show, which I used to love. I think she’s so funny (and) right now we all need a little upper.”
Gurwitch said moving from TV shows to radio and television commentary to writing was a natural progression.
“I was doing a (HBO series) called “Not Necessarily the News.” I thought I could do that,” Gurwitch said. “I loved the news satire. (But) they weren’t very interested in my writing, they were interested in me as an anchor with my double-perm in the ‘80s.”
Gurwitch said she learned she enjoyed her satirical news segments — but was glad she never played a surgeon on TV.
“Because,” she said, “I would have probably thought I could do that, too!”
She crossed the bridge from acting to commentator by appearing on shows including The Today Show, The Independents, The Joy Behar Show and Fox and Friends — and she continues to share her opinion.
Gurwitch’s next appearance will be as a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher.
But then, “writing overtook my life,” she said. It’s that “intellectual curiosity ... What is it that keeps us engaged? Intellectual curiosity and trying new things.”
Debbie Daum, another guest at the book talk Tuesday morning, returned to hear Gurwitch speak because she attended her first talk about “I See You Made an Effort.”
“She is very funny which is why I wanted to come today,” Daum said. “I really want to read this book. ...Her books, you really don’t want to put them down.”