Judy Gold, Funny Jewish Gay Showbiz Mom: The Autostraddle Interview

Jess: Why do you think there are so many lesbian comedians, and more specifically Jewish lesbian comedians out there? [Sandra Bernhard, Jessica Kirson, Julie Goldman, Jackie Hoffman, Liz Feldman, etc.]

Judy Gold: Comedy is the most unfeminine profession. You’re in total control as a standup comic. It’s masculine. People equate power with masculinity, and you can’t really be a female comedian who dresses really hot and sexy cause no one is gonna take you seriously. The guys will wanna fuck you and the women will hate you. So, there’s nothing sexual about it. Lesbians tend to not think in a gender-type role, I think. Also, we have a lot to say and we’re not afraid to say it, and we’re smart. Not all straight women, but most straight women are taught “just keep your opinion to yourself, be lady-like, keep your mouth shut,” but lesbians…

“I feel like once you realize you’re gay, it’s really hard to fit this mold of what a ‘woman’ is supposed to be.”

Jess: …It’s really freeing once you realize those rules don’t apply to you and you can be and do anything you want in life and not be held to that paradigm.

Judy Gold: Exactly. So, I feel like once you realize you’re gay, it’s really hard to fit this mold of what a “woman” is supposed to be.  I remember all the straight guy comics always liked me and it’s because I didn’t want anything from them. I didn’t wanna have sex with them and I didn’t talk about “girly” things on stage, even though they can talk about their balls and dick and say whatever they want. But, I always found that they had more respect for me because I never flirted with them, I never did anything to get spots or stage time. I just wanted to write my jokes and get on stage.

There are a lot of Jewish comedians, period. Most comedians are Jewish. Why? Well, I think the persecuted tend to be comedically oriented. I do think it’s in our nature as people. Jews over think everything. If you look at the Rabbis, they’re studying the same book for fuckin’ 6,000 years. [laughing] The same shit. They do it every day. They sit in a room and they study it, to interpret, to re-interpret. I think it’s the nature of the way we think and communicate with each other. Honestly, as a people, I don’t think we could have made it as far as we did without some humor.

Jess: Who are your favorite comedians?

Judy Gold: Ok, well I love Joan Rivers. I used to listen to her albums over and over again. She still writes and performs all the time – amazing. Here are my favorite comedians: Joy Behar, Susie Essman, Paula Poundstone, Caroline Rhea, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Lewis Black, Louie CK, Sarah Silverman, Mario Cantone, Kathleen Madigan, Wanda Sykes…

Jess: When did you first come out?

Judy Gold: Well, I was always gay. Even as a little kid I was always dressing up like a boy – it’s such a biological thing I can’t even tell you.  I had a girlfriend in high school. Then I got to college and had a boyfriend but hated it physically. It wasn’t until between our junior and senior years of college when we all stayed on campus at Rutgers for the summer and we all came out to each other. We were all really good friends and we realized we were all gay. And, it was the 80s — it was not easy – but we had the best summer of our lives. I remember that summer ended and my father said to me, “Judith, the Summer of ’42 is over.” Then I graduated college, started doing standup and met the person I was with for 20 years, who I had 2 kids with.  We were pretty quiet about it initially, but all our friends knew. I told my sister in her therapist’s office, my brother knew from God knows, long ago. But, coming out to the world really took until I had a child. It was just like, no one is gonna treat me differently than anyone else.

Jess: In your act you talk about how after you & your ex broke up she moved to a different apartment but remained in the same building. How’d that turn out?

Judy Gold: We did that for 5 years. Lesbians never fully break up… and it was much easier for the kids. It was really painful to me at first when I didn’t see them every day…this way I could see them after school no matter what. But, she has since moved to huge apartment with a fireplace where the elevator opens up into the apartment. I’m in the same apartment where the kids grew up, and they’ll always love that place.

Jess: How did the kids handle the breakup and subsequent new relationships?

Judy Gold: They now have 2 moms and 2 stepmoms, and I have to say they’re really well adjusted. Henry, my older son, was Bar Mitzvah’ed in September, and gave an incredible speech in reference to Moses leaving the Jews and that there’s always a scapegoat, and he said “I believe that the gays are the scapegoats in this country.” He’s always defending the gays – like, if anyone says “faggot” on the basketball court he’s like in their face. It’s amazing to see a kid who is fearless and is not gonna put up with any of that crap.

Jess: The story of how you met your girlfriend Elysa is pretty amazing. Can you tell the Time Out New York Valentine’s issue story?

With girlfriend, Elysa

Judy Gold: So, Beth Greenfield who is the gay & lesbian editor at Time Out New York contacted me and said for the Valentine’s issue all of the editors are putting in their most eligible friends. It was the 20 most eligible singles in New York. She asked if I would put an ad in and I was like sure! They took a picture of me and I put in this really ridiculous ad. It said “I’m looking for someone to do my kids’ laundry while we snuggle under my control pad flannel comforter with a bottle of red wine, while I yell at my mother on the phone about her home health aid.” So, I figured if the person doesn’t get that this is a fucking joke… I got some responses and I’d start talking to people online and then I’d ask for a picture and then I’d never talk to them again. [laughing] A couple of weeks later I get a really funny response from someone, and she says I’m gonna send you a picture cause it’s only fair since I know what you look like and she sends me a picture where she’s holding a baby – her cousin’s baby – and she’s really pretty… So I’m like, “does she have fingers?? There’s gotta be something wrong with her!” We start writing back an forth and she’s really funny and she’s Jewish, from Westchester and she’s a therapist. So, we met one night after one of my shows…

Jess: Was she a fan of yours?

Judy Gold: Yes! She had seen my show, but she wasn’t acting sycophant-ish or anything…We met after the show and she was wearing a skirt and was at the bar at Joe Allen’s. I had another gig that same night, at some benefit downtown at some miserable bar and I said “you’re gonna come with me” and she said “no, I’m not” and I said “yes, you are.” Finally, after begging her to come she said “ok, I’ll come.” We went down to this bar and it was such a dump… there was no dressing room or anything so we’re in a stairwell…and she starts laughing [at the absurdity.] Now, my ex would be like “what the fuck is this shit?!” ya know? We went home – she wouldn’t go home with me – and I couldn’t stop thinking about her. The next night I had another date that I had told her about and I couldn’t wait for that date to end and I called her from the cab on the way home and said “I can’t stop thinking about you” and she’s like- “uh huh.” We saw each other the following night at some gay party – she still wouldn’t go home with me. We wound up seeing each other 4 times that week – and then she didn’t call me for 2 days. I was like, “What the fuck!? We went out 4 times and then she doesn’t call me?!” I’m calling all my friends panicking. And they were like – “This is normal! This is dating!” I never looked at the Time Out New York G-Mail account again after I met her. And…. here we are!

Jess: Why didn’t she call you?

Judy Gold: ‘Cause she had boundaries! Which, I have never heard of. She was gonna take it slow, but I pushed it. We’ve been together for 3 years and 2 months now.

Jess: You’re always on Joy Behar’s talk show and on The View, The Today Show… Do you want your own talk show?

Judy Gold: Yes!  Hello! [laughing] I’ve done pilots and stuff, but… it’s hard. It’s hard when you’re a lezzie. Except for Rachel Maddow.

Jess: …and Wanda Sykes?

Judy Gold: And Ellen DeGeneres. And Rosie O’Donnell. Whatever!

Jess: They’re all gay. All these fuckin’ talk show hosts… Which is also another very unfeminine job.  Any plans for another 1 woman show?

Judy Gold: Yes,  I’m working on a new one called “It’s Judy’s Show: My Life as a Sitcom” and it’s going to Williamstown, Massachusetts this summer. The plan is to bring it to New York hopefully. It’s about my addiction to family sitcoms growing up cause I couldn’t stand my family so I actually lived in the world of the television. And also about my dream to have my own sitcom and that’s been thwarted… it’s fabulous [laughing].

Jess: What’s your dream job?

Judy Gold: I’ve always wanted to be on a sitcom. And, I’ve always wanted to put a gay family on television. Have a gay family sitcom that people watched and forgot that they were watching a gay family. Like, oh my god, they’re just like me.

Jess: What would the pitch be for your own show?

Judy Gold: Probably a divorced mother of two, trying to make it in show business with her therapist girlfriend, sharing custody with her ex…. and, she has an annoying mother.

With the cast of Love, Loss & What I Wore

Jess: How are you enjoying Love, Loss & What I Wore?

Judy Gold: Oh my god, I love it! I love the show, I love the cast, everything about it. And you know, I’m not a clothes person. But I’ve realized that even if you hate clothes, they really do elicit these incredible memories and they have such meaning – and clothes really do tell a story. Everyone can relate to the show, even my friend’s boyfriend who came last night and I was like “you’re straight guy, how can you relate to this?” and even he loved it and said he totally related to it. Mothers and daughters come, and it’s so great to be doing theatre.

Jess: Is there a particular monologue that you relate to specifically?

Judy Gold: There’s a story that I do about a woman and her boots… and I love boots, so that really touches me. Boots empower me. I never fit into shoes when I was growing up because I was 6 feet at 13 years old, so I could never buy shoes that looked like other people’s shoes. My shoes looked like orthopedic shoes, they were awful, but I always felt so cool in my boots. They really do make me feel good about myself, and it’s so weird that a piece of clothing would do that. We all judge people based on what they are wearing. Really, your first impression of someone is “what the fuck are they wearing!? What the fuck is that?!” and that can really color what you think of another person.

Visit JudyGold.com for latest tour dates and see Judy this month Off Broadway
in Love, Loss & What I Wore.

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Jess is a pop culture junkie living in New York City. She enjoys endless debates about The L Word, Howard Stern, new techy gadgets, DVR, exploring the labyrinth of the Lesbian Internet, memoirs, working out, sushi, making lists, artsy things, anything Lady Gaga touches, traveling, puppies, and nyc in the fall. Find her on Twitter @jessxnyc or via email.

Jess has written 240 articles for us.


  1. I LOVEEEE Judy Gold! Hers is the only comedy album I’ve ever purchased. “Emmm, Judith’s roommate had a baby, so… she decided to adopt him.”

  2. That first video is part of one of my fav bits of hers :) I love the longer version of her mother explaining ‘accidental insemination’ to her friends.

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  5. I just saw her in love loss on Friday! she was soooo good!! I was like “autostraddle should totally interview her” and then i saw this and it is like you read my mind as usual! k I shall go read now hahah

    • How good is Love, Loss & What I Wore?? I saw it with Janeane Garofalo a few months ago…. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

  6. Judy Gold is hilarious. Glad to see she’s getting love on Autostraddle! Well done.

  7. Wow, Judy Gold has made being a Jewish lesbian mom seem normal! My mother in law has actually heard of her and now knows I’m not the only Jewish lesbian mom out there. Awesome!

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