Alex Borstein Explains Why Her Prime Video Comedy Special ‘Corsets & Clown Suits’ Is ‘Like a Filthy TED Talk’

And the “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star ain’t kiddin’

For those who only know Alex Borstein as the sarcastic, no-nonsense manager Susie Myerson on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” boy, do you have a lot to learn. As proven in her new comedy special on Amazon’s Prime Video, “Alex Borstein: Corsets & Clown Suits,” she’s the kind of comedian that Susie Myerson would jump through hoops to represent.

“It’s just a real different animal. It’s not standup really. It’s like a filthy ‘TED talk,’” Borstein told TheWrap. “You’re gonna learn something, you’re gonna hear a story and hopefully laugh … and there’s music. So I think because it’s like a strange hybrid; it hits differently, you know?”

The show is deeply personal in some places and wildly fictitious in others, all told with comedy, music (yes, she sings too) and an occasional prop or two (there’s a bit about a “patch” women can wear on their cheeks when they choose to be celibate).

And if you’re at all curious about the title of the show, she explains it up front:

“I have spent 40 years of my life in a clown suit, OK? Twenty of those years I have spent with the same person. Only, it turns out I didn’t really know that person. My perception was way off. The joke was on me. The clown has been clowned. So I find myself a divorced human being. It’s like coming out of a 20-year coma. It’s a whole new world in front of me, a whole new landscape. And I have to figure out how to navigate in this new world. In order to do that, I have to figure out who I was, who I am, you know? And can I move around in this new world in a clown suit? If I wanna meet somebody, can I do it in a clown suit?”

Borstein explained it further when we chatted with her. “I think most women in general are always trying to balance a couple of things. And, you know, for me, it’s corset versus clown suit. But I think every woman kind of deals with trying to be two different people — and trying to figure out if you can do it simultaneously.”

The stage for her to dive into sharing what she has learned — and continues to practice — was set in what, for fans of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” may be a familiar setting. It’s the Wilford Theater, a frequent venue where Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) shows off her standup talents. It was built inside a sound studio in Brooklyn for the Prime Video series.

Once her special was given the greenlight from the same network that produces “Maisel,” Borstein approached the series EP, Amy Sherman-Paladino and asked if her special could be shot on that set before it was taken down.

“I was prepared to beg,” Borstein said. “And she loved the idea … We used a lot of the same geniuses behind the scenes at ‘Maisel,’ who came forward to help with this, too, which was fun. It was like a side family project.”

Family project, yes, but suitable for family ears? Not so much. The content and the language gets pretty raunchy. Hilariously so. “I learned that this filthy mouth, Dad, this is the only thing that is gonna take care of me in this world. This is my money maker,” she said pointing to her face while looking at her parents in the audience.

“My father wishes I was not saying what I was saying, but he wishes I had longer up there to say it,” Borstein said during our interview. “They are good with it. I mean, my father can’t believe this is his little girl, but in the same breath, he’s so proud and he’s so excited that I’m up there. It’s such a Jewish conundrum, really. It’s like that old joke of a woman saying, ‘The food at this place is terrible.’ And the other woman saying, ‘Yeah. And in such small portions.’”

The risqué stuff revolves around her desire to “get back out there” following her divorce. But at the crux of it, Borstein is trying to figure out how to be feminine and funny. Communicating that introspection onstage has been somewhat therapeutic for her.

“I like to say about this show that it’s deeply personal, but it’s also wildly fictitious,” the comedian said. There are things that are very much written and added and artistic licenses taken with my own life and in the storytelling. Sharing stories and going over and over it, any pain or any uncomfortableness you might have had in the moment of what transpired — by the time you’ve told it 20 times while touring a show, you’ve taken the power back. Those sticks and those stones can’t hurt you anymore.”

And woven between the funny stories and the songs (parodied or otherwise), there are moments when Borstein gets serious about how women’s rights in the country are on the decline. Slipping in a dead-serious moment after she says something funny makes her point that much more powerful.

“We need to organize,” she told the women in her audience. “We need a lobby. We need funding. We need to do for our bodies what the NRA has done for the guns, right? We could go to conventions. We could go to places like Hawaii, beautiful places. And what do they do? They bring their gun collections there and they show ’em. We could bring our [vaginas]. We bring our [vagina] collections and we’ll show ’em. I’ll show you my [vagina], you show me yours.”

“For me, I don’t think being political [and being funny] can be separate,” she told TheWrap. “I say this in the show, that coming out of a divorce, I came out to find myself having fewer rights than I had going in. And everything, every choice, everything you do, every step you take, medical decisions, everything is political. You can’t escape it.”

“Alex Borstein: Corsets & Clown Suits” is currently streaming on Prime Video.