By Yael Kohen Before I was led into the receiving room of Phyllis Diller’s 10,000-square-foot, gated Brentwood home, I was told the legendary comedy queen, who died Monday at the age of 95, preferred to be called Madame Diller. There would be no hugging or kissing—just a shaking of the hands. I would have 30 minutes and then I would sit on a velvety green settee that was positioned on Madame Diller’s right. The formality threw me. I didn’t expect Madame Diller, the mad-cap comedian with the tacky frocks and fright wig—famous for the kind of self-deprecating barbs that make you cringe—to take herself so seriously. We’ve all heard about comedy’s boys clubs and the only explanation that popped into my head was that maybe after a half-century of working on a male-dominated comedy circuit, Diller had a chip on her shoulder and wanted to make sure she was getting some respect. But Diller, who was 92 at the time of the interview, was not at all like that. And she didn’t talk about boys clubs. That wasn’t a barrier she seemed to relate to even though when she launched her career back in the late-1950s, she was one of the few women who dared to perform standup. “Whether you’re man, woman, or mouse,” she said in an interview for my book We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy. “It’s either you are funny or you aren’t. Either you connect or you don’t.” How about hecklers? “I never had hecklers. Here’s my rhythm: Either I am talking or they are laughing. You would’ve had to make an appointment to heckle me. Silence attracts hecklers. They have to have silence. They never had a chance.” Did she get paid as much as her male peers? “Probably more.” At the height of her career, Diller said she was pulling in a million a year.