Stand-up comic Judy Gold is proud to be a Jew. Really proud. Her Twitter handle: @JewdyGold.
“I am a Jew! I’m a JEWWWW!” geschreis the New Jersey-born Gold, who 7:30 p.m. Saturday plays the RRazz Room at Coral Springs Center For the Arts and 7 p.m. Sunday christens the new RRazz Room at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center with her club act, If You Only Knew the Agony.
The title comes from something her mother, Ruth, once told a theater usher before a Gold performance in The Vagina Monologues:
“It was at the matinee, which started at 3. She got there at 11, 11:30. She gets to the theater and it’s like, ‘Judith, there’s no one here.’ I say, ‘Ma, I’ll meet you at the restaurant next door. You’re ridiculous.’ We went my uncle’s funeral. We were there before his body. I’m not kidding,” Gold recalls. “I go backstage to get ready for the show. The usher comes back and says I have to tell you something. I just sat your mother down. I walked her to her seat. She sat down. I went to give her the Playbill. She looked up and said, ‘If you only knew the agony.’ Like she can’t say, ‘Thank you for taking me to my seat?’ It was all about, ‘My knees hurt.’ Alright, it was unbelievable. So I named it If You Only Knew the Agony.”
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These days, Gold is in rehearsal for a new Off Broadway show, Clinton: The Musical, which has its first preview March 26.
“I play Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary’s muse,” Gold says. “It’s very timely right now. I love Hillary, so I want to make sure that we do her justice. And I love Eleanor. Eleanor was amazing.”
Gold, 52, is juggling the New York Clinton gig, traveling the nation in Agony, and raising two teenagers. Older son Henry, 18, is a student at Indiana University, “studying pot, frat parties and girls.”
“Henry joined a frat. I was like, ‘Henry, you were raised by lesbians and you’re in a fraternity. What is up with that? It’s so funny that I would have the straightest kids in the entire world.”
Son Ben, 13, lives in New York where Gold co-parents with her ex and current partners. “Basically, my kids have three Jewish mothers,” she says.
Gold says she’s heavily pressured by friends and family to marry partner Elysa Halpern.
“I think it’s ridiculous, but I haven’t done it yet,” Gold says. “Oh my God! Remember when you were in your 20s and everyone’s like, ‘When are you getting married?’ Now we’re in our ‘50s and everyone is like, ‘When are you getting married? When are you getting married? When are you getting married?’
“I have these friends, they’re in their 50s, late 40s, all these people getting married and I have to buy wedding gifts? I thought that whole thing was done, you know what I mean? You’ve been together for 75 years and I have to buy you a gift? Why do I have to pay? Half of them are wealthier than I am. You know, like widows and widowers — when they get married again in their 60s, 70s, do they get gifts? Yeah — like Cialis or something.”
Suddenly, Gold gets serious about gay and lesbian marriage equality and religion.
“Politically, it really pisses me off that these people are so against ... What is me getting married, how does that affect you, your relationship, your children? If I’m married to my partner, how does that affect you? ... It’s infuriating. Where’s the separation of church and state? These lawmakers who quote the Bible and morals and ethics — no, that is not what this country is based on. They’re doing it now with Muslims. These people who don’t want Muslims here. Soon it will be Jews. Who the hell knows? We’re becoming one of those religious nations bounded by the New Testament, or whatever they interpret the New Testament to be, or their Testament, or John Smith’s Testament in Upstate New York.”
She’s equally infuriated by conservative ultra-Orthodox Jews. “It’s a cult. The way they treat women, they’re holding up all these flights to Israel if they’re sitting next to a woman on the plane. Too bad! You live in America! Practice your religion, that’s great. But if you don’t want to sit next to a woman, then buy two seats and sit next to your imaginary friend —who’s a guy.”
Gold, who won two Daytime Emmy Awards for writing-producing Rosie O’Donnell’s 1990s TV show, fearlessly uses comedy to make a political statement.
“I don’t approach it from that angry part of me. I approach it from the irony. And also the funny. I do find the funny, that’s my job, to find the funny and the ridiculous in everything. Comics are really social commentators and I feel like we have a responsibility to get our point across but also be funny. Humor is the most palatable way to get any point across. Making people laugh is the most disarming quality one can have. My mother always said, ‘You have to laugh, because if you weren’t laughing, you’d be crying.’”