Gold, Judy 1962–
Gold, Judy 1962–
Born November 15, 1962, in Newark, NJ; daughter of Ruth Gold; partner of Sharon Wendy Callahan; children: Henry, Ben. Education: Rutgers College, New Brunswick, NJ, B.A., 1984.
Writer, playwright, actor, comic, producer, and performer. Worked as a stand-up comic. At the Multiplex with Judy Gold (television program on Home Box Office), host. Guest on numerous television programs, including Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, Sex and the City, the View, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, Hollywood Squares, Drew Carey Show, As the World Turns, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Host of television programs, including 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time, Comedy Central; GLAAD Media Awards, LOGO and VH1; and the View. Actor in films, including the Aristocrats and The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, CBS-TV. Actor in plays, including The Vagina Monologues. Comic performer in television programs, including Comedy Central Presents: Judy Gold and Comedy Central's Tough Crowd Stands Up. Performer on recordings, including Judith's Roommate Had a Baby.
GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding New York Theater, 2007, and Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance, 2006, both for Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother (play); Quill Award nomination for Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother (book); American Comedy Award nomination for funniest female stand-up (twice); Cable Ace Award, for HBO half-hour special; Emmy Award (two-time recipient) for writing and producing the Rosie O'Donnell Show.
Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother (adaptation of play by Gold and Kate Moira Ryan), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.
Judy Gold is a popular stand-up comic, actor, performer, and writer. Known for her height (she is six feet, three inches tall) as well as her outsized personality and well-honed comedic timing, Gold has been a prolific comic performer, stand-up comedian, television host, and guest on TV programs, talk shows, and situation comedies and dramas. Gold served as a writer and producer for the Rosie O'Donnell Show, a well-received current affairs and talk show hosted by comic O'Donnell. The program ran from 1996 to 2002 with O'Donnell at the helm, during which time Gold won two Emmy Awards for her work as writer and producer for the show. She also won a prestigious Cable Ace Award for her half-hour special on Home Box Office (HBO).
Gold was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1962. In an autobiography on her home page, she describes herself as an excellent student, but also one who had trouble fitting in because of her personality and because she was taller than most other students (and sometimes their parents). These troubles were alleviated by involvement in music and marching band, and disappeared completely when she entered the more accepting and understanding atmosphere of college. She graduated from Rutgers College with a music degree in 1984.
Gold reports on her home page that her entry into the life-changing field of stand-up comedy came when she was part of a close-knit group of friends in college. During a holiday "secret santa" event, each member of the group was assigned a certain task they had to perform before receiving their gift. In Gold's case, she was directed to "do a stand-up comedy show in the lounge on my floor, using our dorm-mates as material," she writes in her home page autobiography. "Well, I took the whole day off from classes and wrote jokes about everyone who lived on my floor. I was so nervous, but I killed. I got a high from doing that that I had never had from doing anything else," she reported. She started attending open-microphone nights at comedy clubs and bars in New York City, where she began to develop her comedic craft.
Life after college involved temporarily giving up comedy, moving to New York, and taking a job selling advertising. After repeatedly telling a close friend that she used to do stand-comedy, Gold was challenged to "either do it or don't talk about it anymore," she said. This motivated her to return to the open stages at New York's comedy clubs, and in 1989, she made her first TV appearance after being asked to fill in for an absent performer on Caroline's Comedy Hour. This initial success served as the springboard for a career that continues to grow and evolve today. The lesbian mother of two sons, Gold dedicates herself to her children and home life even as she continues to write, act, and perform comedy.
A central element of Gold's comedy has been her ongoing relationship with her deeply caring but sometimes overprotective Jewish mother. Though some viewers have felt the references uphold stereotypes, Gold says that her portrayal of her mother is an accurate reflection of her personality and their interactions with each other. Gold's gentle but loving lampoons of her mom's "Jewish motherhood" inspired one of her more successful projects. Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother is a one-woman show, featuring Gold, penned by her and playwright Kate Moira Ryan. The show developed over a five-year period during which Gold and her collaborator traveled around the country, interviewing some fifty Jewish women, asking a series of twenty-five questions out of a pool of about fifty. Gold "found these women to be as strikingly similar as they were colorfully different and unique," commented interviewer Alison Kugel on PR.com. "Each woman had her own story to tell, while at the same time demonstrating the warmth, caring, and closeness to their children that Judy has experienced with her own mother since childhood. Judy found herself to be humbled, enriched, and inspired by these women's stories." Gold told Kugel: "Before I go on stage, I really get excited to tell this story. It's a journey and I wanted to be honest. I wanted to show how these women affected my life and I wanted to pay as much respect to these women as I possibly could, especially with the Holocaust survivors."
Reviews of the play have been consistently positive. Frank Scheck, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, noted that in her performance, "Gold mixes autobiographical commentary with perfectly timed and delivered one-liners to uproarious effect." Gold's "willingness to admit she's fallible allows the show to mix jokes with stirring emotional moments," observed Mark Blankenship in Daily Variety. "I think I'm going to be doing the show for a very long time and I'm very happy about it," Gold told Kugel. "I think it has a profound affect on people."
In 2007, Gold and Ryan adapted the play into a combination interview and memoir format. In the book version, which keeps the same title as the play, Gold continues to focus on the personalities and backgrounds revealed by her interviews; she also adds numerous essays examining her own past and her relationship with her mother. Gold asks her interview subjects questions such as whether they have experienced anti-Semitism; what effect the Holocaust had on them and their family; how many times a day they call their children; and why they believe Jewish mothers are considered so humorous. Gold's "fluid writing, engaging and entertaining, balances between poignant and humorous memories," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Advocate, May 8, 2007, Will Doig, "Good as Gold: In Her New Book, Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother, Lesbian Comic Judy Gold Laments That the Joke Is Ultimately on Her—She Too Is Turning into Her Mother," author interview, p. 49.
Daily Variety, February 6, 2006, Mark Blankenship, "Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother," profile of Judy Gold, p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter, February 2, 2006, Frank Scheck, review of Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2007, review of Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother, p. 82.
Redbook, September, 2007, Marisa Cohen, "Hot Mamas Funny Ladies: The Moment You Hold Your Baby for the First Time, Your Entire Life Changes—and for These Three Women, It Got a Whole Lot Funnier," profile of Judy Gold, p. 228.
San Francisco Chronicle, December 24, 2003, Adair Lara, "NY Comedian Judy Gold Feels Right at Home in SF," profile of Judy Gold.
Variety, February 13, 2006, Mark Blankenship, "Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother," author profile, p. 71.
Comedy Central Web site,http://www.comedycentral.com/ (April 10, 2008), author profile.
Judy Gold Home Page,http://www.judygold.com (April 10, 2008).
PR.com,http://www.pr.com/ (February 6, 2006), Allison Kugel, "Comedian Judy Gold on Her Critically Acclaimed Show: Twenty-five Questions for a Jewish Mother and Other Semi-Related Topics," author interview.