All That Glitters

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Comedian, writer and actress Judy Gold will be performing at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Jan. 28.
Comedian, writer and actress Judy Gold will be performing at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Jan. 28. (Provided)

Emmy Award-winning writer and longtime comic mainstay Judy Gold never thought she’d be waking up in the morning to finish her cup of hot coffee while tweeting at the president of the United States.

Gold’s well aware of the absurdity here: but that’s her job. Pointing out the ridiculousness of the everyday humdrum world or, barring that, playing up the ridiculousness of her own life to ensure she still has enough material for her next gig.


Hers is a three-decade career in loud and proud, gleefully biting humor that has led Gold to developing and producing “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” guest  appearances in numerous popular television programs such as “Inside Amy Schumer,” “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Louie” and “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” along with an impressive spate of cable specials, her own podcast called “Kill Me Now” … and the occasional pop-up cameo in Woody Allen’s endless stream of projects (most recently his pitch-perfect Amazon series “Crisis in Six Scenes”).

For those interested in what all the fuss is about, Gold is bringing her trademark mordant comedy to the Gordon Center for Performing Arts on Saturday, Jan. 28.

For those who happen to be one of the many who don’t necessarily see Trump through the lens of Gold’s ecru-colored glasses, she told the JT she’ll likely be leaving well enough alone during the set.

“It’s not funny to me because the bad feelings are so deep,” Gold, 54, said. “It’s not really a part of my comedy. At this point, it’s just anger.”

Of course, there’s also the practical proposition that, as Gold reconciled, she doesn’t know how many Trump supporters might be in the audience paying good money to laugh with their fellow Americans.

“But,” Gold sighed, “he’s still dumb. And I want the president to be smarter than me. Which isn’t possible.”

Gold was kidding about that last part … probably. But she did contend that what comedians and Jews have in common (and perhaps why it’s long been a cliché that they often are one in the same) is they’re both intelligent, thinking people.

“There are people right now in Brooklyn reading these texts [Jews] have been studying for thousands and thousands of years, and they’re trying to find some new take on it,” Gold said. “And that’s what a joke is.”

Thinking outside of the box, as Gold put it, is essential to comedy — to keep it fresh, incisive and ultimately entertaining — just as the same mentality has been crucial for the Jewish people who have needed “out of the box” solutions to problems such as, say, “being kicked out of every country” throughout the course of time.

“Humor gets you pretty far,” she continued. “It helps us feel safe. I talk about my mother on stage all the time and always feel safe that she’s not going to be mad.

“Most of the time, after my shows, she’ll call me up and ask, ‘So how was I?’ But then again, she asks me that after therapy too.”

Though Gold tends toward the autobiographical in her work, regularly expressing her perspective as a Jewish mother herself in the LGBT community, she does have some trepidation about her stage presence overlapping into her personal life.

Take something as simple as going to a party.

“No, I’m not there to be  on display,” she said. “I’m a human being. And it’s so interesting because I’ve gone to parties and then I get feedback later: ‘So and so said you weren’t that funny.’ But I’m not performing! I’m just being a  person at a f—ing party!”

Gold remembers how isolated she felt out on the road back in the days before cellphones, back when just to make a long-distance call to her friends and family back home would “eat up your  entire salary for the week.”

Though she’s proud of all those sacrifices made in the ’80s and ’90s when “you really had to want to be a comic,” Gold would certainly not want to go back to the days of pure hustle out on the lonely, often unfriendly road.

Back when it also wasn’t quite as acceptable to openly discuss her views as a lesbian and when comedy club owners would tell her that a woman had just bombed, meaning they wouldn’t have another one on for at least a month.

Gold nevertheless worries that today “with phones and such, we’ve lost ways of communicating with each other and looking into each other’s eyes when we’re talking … [And] no one was videotaping your act at a club saying ‘so and so is racist’ or ‘so and so is homophobic.’”

Despite her morning Trump tweeting, Gold resents the  imposition of having to keep up something of an online persona.

“Are you kidding me?” Gold carped. “I want to sit here and work on writing material, but now I have to work on getting more ‘followers’ [on social media] to get booked at a club?”

Gold revealed that she’s aware of some club owners who will actually book comedians they know are less talented but have more Twitter followers in lieu of better comics.

The funnier comic with less online presence might bring  in less customers, after all. Whereas the comic with more of a social media audience might not be as adept at telling jokes, at least his followers will potentially show up in larger numbers to buy more drinks … even if, as Gold has observed, they might then leave after the first few awful jokes.

Gold made the salient point too that all of this compulsive over-sharing online has made people forget that they should just “get a diary! Remember when people had diaries? That’s the problem: You have so much free time? Go volunteer. Help someone less fortunate than you. Read a book!”

Though these elegiac views may seem curmudgeonly to some, Gold would remind critics that therein lies the power of her self-deprecatory comedy: “You can say whatever you want about me, but I’m going to say it first. You don’t get the satisfaction; I’m way ahead of you here.”

This kind of comedy can be a powerful thing, Gold said: “Getting a laugh is the greatest feeling in the world, but knowing you can make the enemy laugh is something else altogether.”

And that’s the ultimate  revenge, if you will (or won’t; she doesn’t much care), in Gold’s work when it comes to those in the audience she deems “voted for everything  I disagree with” in this past election. At least she’s making them laugh.

“The one thing I know how to do is stand-up, and I love it,” Gold said. “[At the Gordon], you’re going to get out of your head and see someone say all the things you’re thinking but are too normal to figure out how to make it into a joke.

“And I love the Jews. They’re my people. Most of the show will be me singing my haftarah.”

Comedian Judy Gold performs Saturday, Jan. 28, at 8 p.m. at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills. Tickets are $36 in advance, $41 at the door. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit jcc.org/event/judy-gold.

mklickstein@midatlanticmedia.com

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