Gold Standard: Judy Gold is a Comic First, a Raucous Jewish Lesbian Second

Scene didn't get a chance to interview the 6-foot-2 Judy Gold in person as we prepped for our coverage of the Gay Games. But even from her home in New York, where Gold paused for a moment to catch her breath during a busy few months of touring, it was clear that her personality is even bigger than her stature. She's coming to the Cleveland Improv Friday, Aug. 8 and Saturday, Aug. 9, and plans to tell some uproarious stories and jokes for locals and folks in town for the Gay Games.

So you're coming to Cleveland!

Cleveland, baby!

Did you make a special point to get booked during the Gay Games?

No! I had no idea. Isn't that so weird?  I have this one fan who comes to every one of my shows and he told me that he was going to the Gay Games in Cleveland, and I said, "When?" and he told me, and I said, "I'm going to be there too!"  I couldn't believe it. I was actually at the first Gay Games in New York City, with Harvey Fierstein in Yankee Stadium.

Did you participate? Like as an athlete?

No! We were waving flags at the ceremony.  

As a lesbian, do you ever feel pressure to talk about LGBT issues in your comedy routines?

I don't feel any pressure to talk about anything specifically. I've been doing this so long that I talk about what I'm passionate about. This is what I think: I think that I am a comedian first and foremost. I happen to be gay. I happen to be Jewish. And that is my life experience, and the funniest things come from what you feel most strongly about. Look, I'm a storyteller. Do you watch Celebrity Wife Swap?

Can't say I do, although I saw that you were on it.

We were the first same-sex couple on the show, and it was never mentioned. It just wasn't an issue. I applaud ABC and the producers for that, because that's exactly how it should be. The one thing that wasn't: At the end, you reunite with your partner, and they did not show us kissing on the lips. It's annoying to me, but whatever.

Baby steps, I guess.

You know I never talked about being gay at all until I had a child. It just wasn't part of my schtick. But then I had children, and the funniest things would happen to us. With my ex, we each had a child and then adopted the other. And once, I was going to get yarmulkes at the Jew store down the street, because I'm on the Upper West Side, and they're like really...Are you Jewish?

I'm not.

But you know about the Jews?

Some of my best friends are Jews.

Good, right. So anyway, they love me in there. I'm like the big lesbo with the kid. So my ex and I are going and my partner had just had the C-section and she's miserable, and she's at the counter waiting for me while I'm getting the yarmulkes and then standing on line with the baby. And this woman says to me, "That baby is so cute! Oh my gawwwwd. How old?" And I said, "Six  days." And she said, "Six days? You look fabulous!" And I said, "Thank you." And then I went outside and my partner was so mad that I'd, you know... just right back in shape after six days. There are just some really funny, incredible, and also poignant stories.

I definitely feel that stories like that are universally funny.

I think that humor is the most palatable way to get a point across. And so I always feel like sometimes by me just talking about my family and everyone just forgetting it's a gay family is important. I mean it's the same shit that they have. We're all miserable; we've all got kids. And just doing that, just talking about it, it's sort of like giving a pet its medicine in peanut butter. They don't realize what they're taking. Harvey Milk always said...You know Harvey Milk?

The man, the myth.

Milk, baby! His whole message was, come out, come out wherever you are, and that's the only way the world's gonna change. And look what happens: Sen. Rob Portman, his son comes out and all of a sudden he's pro-gay. Dick Cheney ­— who I fucking couldn't hate anyone more — his daughter comes out and he's pro gay, except when his other daughter's running for office and she's not for gay marriage, then he's not because he's such a great dad. Everyone knows and loves a gay person, whether they admit it or not.

I'm only in my 20s, but it feels like the tide is really shifting dramatically toward acceptance.

Even since like 10 years ago, it has changed so, so much. I can't even believe how far we've come. Like I did a piece for Huffington Post because when my son Ben got his tonsils out, the nurse was like, "Who's the real mother?" She asked when he was sitting right there! And I was like, "We're both his real mothers. If you'd like to know his biological mother, that would be me." I always make a point to cross out the questions on the forms. And it's not that these forms always say "mother" and "father." But look, there are people whose parents were killed in 9/11, in Afghanistan, people whose parents are in jail. There are just so many different types of families, and it's always a reminder to kids when they see that.

Well, here's hoping all sorts of families come to see you when you're in town. I know I'm gonna try to make it down myself.

If you don't fucking come, I'm going to kill you.  

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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