Judy Gold In Conversation

If you’ve thought to yourself, “You know what television is missing? A show about a 6’3 lesbian Jew and her family,” then you’re in luck. Comedienne-extraordinaire Judy Gold‘s one-woman show, The Judy Show – My Life as a Sitcom, which played last year in New York City, begins previews Tuesday at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater in Los Angeles. HEEB spoke with Ms. Gold  about her show, offending other Jews, who she’d want to play her in a biopic of her life.

What inspired this show?

My first show, 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, was based on interviews I did with Jewish mothers around the country. I had just become a mother, and I was afraid I was going to become my mother, which, unfortunately, has pretty much happened. But I just wanted to see where I fit into the world of Jewish mothers, as this very tall, gigantic . . . you know, I’m this Jewish lesbian comedian. Like nothing about my life screams out “Jewish mother.” So that show was basically me figuring out where I fit into the world of Jewish mothers, but the stories kind of changed my life. And then I knew I wanted to do another show, and this one is way more personal. It really tells the story of me, and how I grew up in New Jersey, and I was addicted to sitcoms. When I think of my family I think of my childhood, of course my family and neighborhood and my school, but I really do think of these shows that I grew up that were such a part of my life. And I grew up and became a comic and I always thought that I would be on a sitcom. And my life really is a sitcom . . . it’s just the perfect recipe. But I’m gay. They have not yet put on a family show where the main family’s gay.

Has the show been rewritten at all between the last run and the next?

Very little. Usually when we write these shows with my writing partner, that’s it. But so much has happened in the past year regarding gay marriage, that of course I have to add, but it’s essentially the same.

Do LA audiences differ from New York audiences?

It’s so funny, because no one from LA is from LA. New York is a theater town, that is the heart of the city, is the theater. I’m so used to New York audiences. You know, to me, funny is funny. New York/LA I find to be similar in a lot of ways. If I go to the South, or the Midwest, and this gigantic Jew walks in . . . if I’m going to – I’ve never been to Kansas City, so God only knows. I have to check with my mother. Wherever I’m going, I check with my mother, and so the thing is, wherever I’m going, I check with my mother, and I get the, “Eh well, there’s not many of us there.”

My first show, 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, was based on interviews I did with Jewish mothers around the country. I had just become a mother, and I was afraid I was going to become my mother, which, unfortunately, has pretty much happened. But I just wanted to see where I fit into the world of Jewish mothers, as this very tall, gigantic . . . you know, I’m this Jewish lesbian comedian. Like nothing about my life screams out “Jewish mother.” So that show was basically me figuring out where I fit into the world of Jewish mothers, but the stories kind of changed my life. And then I knew I wanted to do another show, and this one is way more personal. It really tells the story of me, and how I grew up in New Jersey, and I was addicted to sitcoms. When I think of my family I think of my childhood, of course my family and neighborhood and my school, but I really do think of these shows that I grew up that were such a part of my life. And I grew up and became a comic and I always thought that I would be on a sitcom. And my life really is a sitcom . . . it’s just the perfect recipe. But I’m gay. They have not yet put on a family show where the main family’s gay.

Has the show been rewritten at all between the last run and the next?

Very little. Usually when we write these shows with my writing partner, that’s it. But so much has happened in the past year regarding gay marriage, that of course I have to add, but it’s essentially the same.

Do LA audiences differ from New York audiences?

It’s so funny, because no one from LA is from LA. New York is a theater town, that is the heart of the city, is the theater. I’m so used to New York audiences. You know, to me, funny is funny. New York/LA I find to be similar in a lot of ways. If I go to the South, or the Midwest, and this gigantic Jew walks in . . . if I’m going to – I’ve never been to Kansas City, so God only knows. I have to check with my mother. Wherever I’m going, I check with my mother, and so the thing is, wherever I’m going, I check with my mother, and I get the, “Eh well, there’s not many of us there.”

What are the feelings you have about working on a piece you are performing in, verses a piece you are both writing and performing?

This piece is really difficult, because it really goes through my life, and I sort of every night relive these major moments in my life, my hopes and my dreams, and my desires. But it’s definitely more personal and emotional in a way . . . you know, you often use, when you’re doing theater and you’re doing acting, you use your life experiences to create a character, but you’re using your life experiences, and you’re telling your life experiences in these shows. When I do a play, I can use other people, and do research and create these characters, but these are the only characters that are so personal to me, and telling a story that is really my story. Comics, we are so set for rejection every time we get on stage. But this, this is a play, it’s a show, it’s not stand-up, so I can’t stop in the middle and go “What the FUCK is the matter with you?”

In terms of the acting element, do you think it is more difficult, or emotionally taxing, then to play yourself, than to play a character?

Yeah, I guess so, I mean . . . how can someone direct you to be yourself? I don’t know . . . I think that they’re both difficult. It’s seems like it’s gonna be so easy when you’re playing yourself. If someone writes a script and says, “You read this as yourself,” I think it’s really hard, because then [they say] “NoI want this part of you, or that part of you,” and you’re like, “Well I don’t want to give you that part of me!” Playing someone else it’s so much easier, because you’re detached in a way.

Obviously being gay and Jewish –

WHAT?!?!

YES! Let’s talk about it. Obviously being gay and being Jewish have influenced your comedy, but how do you think your being Jewish and being gay have shaped your comedy?

I think being Jewish is all of who I am; It’s every bit who I am: It’s how I speak, it’s how I think, it’s how I look, it’s what I eat, it’s what I say, it’s everything; I am a Jew. Being gay is who I love, and it’s a part of who I am. Of course they both have shaped me as a human being and me as a comic. For the first ten years as a stand-up, I never talked about being gay in their act. But you know once I had a child, I was like, “Every comic talks about their family. I’m talking about my family!” You know? I’m sure it’s shaped my career, as I also feel my outspoken Judaism has. Every manager I was ever with in the beginning was like, “Tone done the Jew.”

Read the full interview on Heeb magazine