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Judy Gold Talks About The Business of Comedy - 2002-03-23

One of America's up-and-coming comediennes recently appeared in Washington as part of a national tour. Judy Gold has done just about everything in show business she has acted in movies, the theater, and, on television, appeared in TV dramas, game shows and starred in her own cable TV special. The versatile actress and comic talked about the business of comedy and the women who are in it.

"I mean, being a stand up comic is not the most feminine job. Plus it's the most powerful thing - you're standing on the stage with a microphone, everyone is listening to you and you're eliciting response from them. And so a lot of men and women are intimidated by that."

Judy Gold could be intimidating if she wanted to be. Standing almost two meters tall, (6'3"), and seemingly unafraid to discuss anything, she comes across with the force of a tornado.

". . please welcome, Judy Gold!" [APPLAUSE,] "Hi, How are ya!!! Can you hear me?"

The naturally funny Judy Gold was a music major at Rutgers University in New Jersey in the 1980's, when a friend dared her to go onstage and tell jokes at one comedy club's "open mic" night. She took on the bet, and never looked back.

"It was incredible. I got high. You get high like you can never get from anything else. Then of course, the second time you go on, it fails. Then it's like cocaine, you have to keep going back to get that first high," she says.

Judy Gold doesn't tell jokes as much as she draws humor from the people and events she observes in everyday life. "My family, my mother, current events, idiots that I meet... and I love talking to the audience. That's a lot of what I do, I love talking to real people because the more you let them talk, the funnier it gets. I like people to leave and think they were part of the show," she says.

"Am I the only Jew in the house?" she asks the audience during a show. " Oh, you're Jewish? And what's your name? And where are you from, Andrew? You grew up in West Virginia and you're Jewish?"

In little more than 15 years, Judy Gold has graduated from working the most modest comedy clubs to headlining some of the largest venues in the country, including in Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles. She has won several prestigious industry awards as well as being nominated by the American Comedy Awards for "Best Female Comedian in 1996." Ms. Gold says what traditionally was a male-dominated field, has begun to open up to more female comediennes in the industry. But she says it still isn't easy.

"I feel like every profession except for perhaps nursing or teaching, women have a more difficult time. I think it's the nature of where we live. Dates are the worst audience. People on first dates and they're feeling insecure, especially if there's a woman comic because then you really see when there's a man's reaction to a woman and then the woman is also thinking, 'should I laugh.' It's also here's the thing you see these shows, if it's three women comics, then it's a 'female show,' but if it's a show where's there's three male comics, it's just a 'show.' It's not a special event. And that has to change," she says.

"One table is completely filled with this family. So I say, 'What are you celebrating?' A woman looks up and says, 'I'm getting a new leg tomorrow.' What am I supposed to say to that??!!"

Judy Gold says when she got a job on her first television series, All American Girl with comedienne Margaret Cho, she thought she'd never want to do stand-up comedy again. But she was wrong.

"And all I wanted to do was do 'stand up' when I was on that show. Because 'stand up' is the most therapeutic thing. No one's telling you what to say, there's no director, there's no executives canceling you, firing you, it's just a whole different ball game. You're totally in control, you can say whatever you want. And you can go home and go to sleep. I really realized how much I loved doing standup the more I did other things," she says.

Judy Gold, who lives in New York City and is a mother of two boys, says she thinks her style of comedy can translate well in other English speaking countries, because "everybody's got a mother, or a mother-like figure or someone resembling a family."

"So I think it can be universal. You know, I'll go to the Korean deli and they really don't speak English there but I can make them laugh. Which I love. People who don't speak the same language as me, I can make laugh. And my cleaning lady a woman I work with speaks hardly any English and we have a ball and I cannot speak her language and I crack her up all the time. I think you're either funny or you're not," she says.

Comedienne, actress, writer and producer, Judy Gold has an upcoming comedy special on the cable television network Comedy Central on March 30, and can continue to be seen in clubs in New York City and throughout the United States.