Judy Gold :: Her Own (Very Funny) Brand
Emmy-Award winning out comedienne Judy Gold's career began almost by accident -- a college friend dared her to do some stand-up, and she never stopped. Fast forward nearly three decades, and Gold is now a household name, having enjoyed an illustrious and diverse career, with a multitude of acting, writing, and comic gigs to her name.
Indeed, Gold has starred in a number of successful off-Broadway comedic shows, including her most recent offering, "The Judy Show - My Life As A Sitcom," which was lauded by critics, and ran between June 2011 and January 2012. TV buffs will also recognize Gold from her numerous acting roles on critically acclaimed shows, such as "30 Rock" and "The Big C." She is also a regular contributor on "The View," and her writing contributions on "The Rosie O'Donnell" show earned her that aforementioned Emmy.
Branded by the New York Times as "Highly entertaining! Brash, Buoyant & Infectiously nostalgic," Gold's comedy is universal in nature -- it tackles a plethora of highly relatable issues. As Gold asserts, it doesn't matter "gay, straight, black, white, man, woman" -- her humor will appeal to everyone. However, that doesn't mean that she's hanging out in the closet. Gold has been out since 1996, and vocally so. She is a renowned activist within the LGBT community, fighting for civil rights in areas such as healthcare (she began her activism during the HIV/AIDS crisis) and marriage parity.
EDGE chatted with Gold ahead of her performance in Boston this Saturday, April 10th, where she will be headlining the "Women in Comedy Festival." We talked comic inspirations, LGBT equality and her love for New England...
Her own brand
EDGE: How did you break into comedy?
Judy Gold: Well someone actually dared me to do it in college (Laughs) and that’s really how it started. I just took it really seriously! I took a class and everything.
EDGE: Did you always want to be a comedienne?
Judy Gold: Well I was in college, and I knew I wanted to be a performer, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity, but I always knew I was really funny... so comedy just seemed like the natural choice.
EDGE: Do other comics inspire your comedy? Or do you think you have your own unique brand of comedy?
Judy Gold: I think I really am my own brand -- it’s all from my own point of view and persona. However, that doesn’t mean that other people haven’t influenced me, of course, but I think most great comics truly are their own.
EDGE: Fair enough, but are there any comics that you really enjoy watching?
Judy Gold: Oh gosh I’m a fan of so many comics -- I can tell you that growing up it was Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller, and Richard Pryor, and even Totie Fields, whom you’ve probably never heard of. And there are so many more that I don’t have time to list.
EDGE: You’re out-- How do you think that has impacted your career?
Judy Gold: (Pauses) Honestly, I have no idea, because I couldn’t be anything else. I don’t know if I would work if I were straight, I am who I am. I know that it’s great to be able to have a voice, and to have a platform to get very important points across. I love who I am -- and you know, gay audiences are the best, and I’m proud to be a gay person. (Pauses) So honestly I have no idea how it has helped or hindered my career.
EDGE: Have you always been out?
Judy Gold: No I actually came out in the late 90s, when my son was born, and I just thought (Pauses) ...well I like to talk about my family, and I realized that I couldn’t have children and not be honest about who I was and my family situation. I didn’t want to set that example. That said, I mean, I wasn’t ’in’ before, but I just didn’t talk about it.
EDGE: Did you notice any negativity when you first came out?
Judy Gold: Well I had people say, don’t be gay on this or that; which I think is their issue, you know? I’m sure people made some negative comments, like she’s too gay or whatever, but I couldn’t live with myself ... there’s no way I could get up in the morning and feel good about myself without being honest.
Always an activist
EDGE: We have made so many advances as a community, have you always been actively involved in the LGBT movement?
Judy Gold: I’ve always been an activist. I started during the AIDS crisis, and I had just started doing stand-up, and I had volunteered and I started working with the AIDS walk, and it really was the crisis that brought our community together, unfortunately. I’ve also worked for the Human Rights Campaign and other organizations like that. So, yes, I’ve always been an activist, and obviously marriage equality is very important!
EDGE: How do you feel about the critique that marriage equality isn’t a pressing issue, in light of other issues?
Judy Gold: I think they should tell us what they think is so pressing -- when you have a partner and children and you aren’t validated, and you can’t visit your partner in hospital, and moving from states and your legal marriage status changes, or you could be fired from a job or whatever, just because you’re gay, what is more pressing than that?! I’d like to know...
EDGE: Well exactly as you said, they would argue that employment and housing discrimination is a more pressing issue...
Judy Gold: Well honestly I think they are all related -- and I think that’s why it’s so important to be visible. As Harvey Milk said, ’come out come out,’ because once people know someone who is gay, it changes things. I mean the fact that even Dick Cheney is for gay marriage!! I mean I don’t agree with that guy on anything! (Laughs) (Pauses) it’s a human right we’re talking about here, and I’m hopeful that things are changing.
EDGE: You worked as a writer on the ’Rosie O’Donnell Show’ -- can you speak more about that experience? Are you guys still friends?
Judy Gold: OMG I loved it!! -- it was great. It was such a great show and such a great time and I was really proud of it, and yeah I still keep in touch with everyone, including Rosie.
EDGE: You have a show coming up in Boston, you will be headlining the "Women in Comedy Festival" -- what can audiences expect?
Judy Gold: Ok, first of all I’ll be telling jokes, and they’re really funny, and they’re about my life, and, um, you know, I talk about family and my relationship -- things that gay, straight, male, female, everyone can relate to. But I can’t give anything else away, or people won’t come!! You won’t be disappointed, I’ll tell you that much! (Laughs)
EDGE: Are you excited to be in New England? Is it usually a good crowd?
Judy Gold: Yes, I love New England!! I actually have a place in Provincetown. I always wanted to go to college in New England, but my parents wouldn’t let me!
EDGE: What’s next for you?
I have something big coming up, but I’m not supposed to talk about it! But I’m also doing the Montreal Comedy Festival, and my oldest son is going to college, which is both exciting and terrifying.
Judy Gold performs with Wendy Liebman, Robby Hoffman, Erin Judge at Laugh Boston @ The Westin Boston Waterfront,425 Summer Street, Boston. For more information //laughboston.com/event/wicf-judy-gold:the Laugh Boston website.
For more on Judy Gold //www.judygold.com:visit her website.