Since the early ’90s, comedian Judy Gold has been paving a unique path to a golden comedy career. The two-time Emmy Award winner has found success in standup, television and theater, but has faced the stigma of coming out as a gay parent during her career.
Before we welcome back Gold to SteelStacks Oct. 21, ArtsQuest spoke to the hilarious comic about her career, her take on current events and her favorite Jewish holidays!
ArtsQuest: We know you’re always busy with a billion projects. What are you up to now?
Judy Gold: Well, I have just recorded an album so now I have the daunting task of having to listen to my annoying voice. We did two shows and I think we are going to put out two albums maybe six months apart. So I have to go through all the material and pick what I’m using. You know how like you can’t stand the sound of your own voice? Take that and multiply it by five million, okay? That’s what I have to do.
AQ: Is it kind of like Johnny Depp has never seen any of the movies he performs in?
JG: I can’t look at myself. That’s how my kids torture me. They go on the computer and they look at videos and stuff just to torture me. If you’re a performer, you’re hypercritical of yourself. I don’t know how people [can] look at themselves. I have friends who are like, “I’m gonna be on this, let’s all come over and look!”
AQ: You work in all different types of media: you’re a standup comedian, you’re on TV, you write, you do theater, you host a podcast. What’s it like being able to flex your creative muscles in those ways?
JG: I think part of me feels lucky that there are so many outlets like that. I get to do my podcasts and I love the theater, I love doing TV and I love writing. But, I’m a standup first and foremost. So, If I think of life without standup I don’t know what I’d do. Just to be able to get on stage and especially in the climate that we’re living in now – it feels very cathartic.
AQ: Mentioning these tenser times, is comedy more important now? Or is that kind of an overstatement?
JG: Oh no! I think the fact that freedom of speech is being threatened and that the truth is being altered, it’s more important now than ever. It’s interesting because comics are now being vilified and being held to sort of a higher standard than these politicians that say whatever they feel like, you know? Then they spin it and it’s like the truth tellers are the ones who are taking a lot of crap and it’s ridiculous! It’s just so funny that they will defend [the president].
Freedom of speech is what makes this country great. We can criticize and we have outlets for opinions. And honestly the theater changes people’s lives, music changes people’s lives, art changes people’s lives. You know, it all tells stories from different perspectives and you can’t shut that down. That’s what makes America great. Because it was great before. It was great and now it’s not great because of him. It’s really just interesting because I feel like comedians are held to a higher standard and even jokes from 10 years ago are being resurrected just to look at this or look at that. His is locker room talk, yet ours is not? I don’t understand.
AQ: In your weekly podcast Kill Me Now, you interview celebrities about what makes them angry. What do you enjoy about hosting a podcast? Obviously, we know what makes you angry in the political world, but what else makes you angry?
JG: Oh my god, well I love hosting a podcast, I love my guests, I love doing research. I’m very curious about people and what makes them tick, but I’m curious when I think about things that they don’t normally talk about. The majority are comics and comics speak to one another differently than they speak to non-comics. So, I think it’s really a window inside of the mind of comedians and why we are the way we are and why we think the way we think.
What ****es me off? I think basic incompetence and….people who are dumb…just pay attention!
AQ: Comedy seems to be more welcoming to newer and different points of view. So you, as a woman who is also in the LGBTQ and Jewish communities, how have you seen this evolve since you started as a comedian?
JG: Thank God for the Jews because they love comedy, they love theater, they love the arts. So, it’s so great to be a part of that community – they love true entertainment. They just are a really supportive community. And then as far as LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ stuff is concerned I think it’s great that when I came out in the mid ‘90s – when I came out on stage – I came out basically as a gay parent. It was not easy. It definitely had an effect on my career. In fact, I didn’t come out prior to that because I didn’t have a lot of material about being gay. But, also it was an excuse to pigeon hole you that you were a gay comedian. All I ever wanted to be was a comedian. I happen to be gay. I am Jewish, you know, that’s so much of who I am. It’s pretty much all of who I am.
I think it’s really great now that being a part of the LGBT group is not a big deal – that’s where we want it to be. When I came out as a gay parent the material I was doing was about my kids and the fact that they had two moms. Everyone has a family or some kind of a family whether it’s biological or non-biological. We all have, hopefully, a group of people we consider our family. So I think talking about being a parent and also being gay, people realized, “Oh my god, their family’s just like mine.” There’s a lot you can do with a joke and a microphone.
AQ: What are your favorite and least favorite Jewish holidays and why?
JG: Okay, this is good. Um, the first two days of Passover are up there as my favorite. The last six days I could do without, for obvious reasons.
AQ: You miss bread at some point, right?
JG: Yeah, I miss bowel movements, bread…I love Rosh Hashana. Yom Kippur, I get really into it and then about 2-3 o’clock in the afternoon I’m just like, “alright.” I have often been stopped in the airport by security for having menorah in my suitcase, because I’ve lit Hanukkah candles in many hotels. What am I missing? There’s like a hundred of them.
AQ: There’s like three every day…
JG: Yeah. I enjoy Sukkot. Purim makes me think about winning a Goldfish at the Purim carnival and then having it die and flushing it down the toilet while I sing Mourner’s Kaddish.
AQ: Thanks, Judy. We’re so excited to welcome you back on Oct. 21!
JG: I’m excited! I had such a good time there so I’m excited to come back. Great audience and, you know what, we need to laugh. Every day you wake up like, “Oh my god, what now?” so [it’s nice] just to be able to forget for an hour.