Take Five: Comedian Judy Gold's kids are killing her
With a long-running off-Broadway show called "25 Questions for a Jewish Mother," you can imagine that for comedian Judy Gold, family is a wellspring of opportunity.
"My mother is so annoying, but I have to call her every day so I can get some material," Gold quipped, in a phone conversation from her home in New York.
A Jewish mother herself, Gold, 48, is coming to St. Louis for a one-night show to benefit PROMO, a statewide advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
She'll bring to the 560 Music Center in University City a routine that's also fortified by another generation: Gold's two sons, who have killer senses of humor but who are also killing her self-confidence, as almost any parent of teenagers can understand.
In the interview, Gold talked about her three decades of mining her friends and loved ones for the sake of standup. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Is it true your first standup experience was on a dare when you were a student at Rutgers University?
Gold: Yes, I was in college and we had this Secret Santa; we would dare people to do stuff and then they'd get the present. My dare was to do 10 minutes of standup and use everyone who lived on our floor as material.
It was the first time I ever did it. I think I had two days to prepare and I didn't even go to class. It was the scariest thing I ever did.
This was the '80s when standup was so big. Then someone got me a gig in a restaurant -- my first real gig -- and I can't even tell you how physically ill I was beforehand. But that's gone now; now I just get physically ill over the rest of my life.
What about the rest of your life?
Gold: I have an amazing partner of five years. She is a therapist, which is very annoying because I have to hear words like "boundaries" and "triangulation" and "transitions." We'll be going to bed at night and she'll say, "We're going to 'transition' now." And I'll say, "We're not going to 'transition,' we're going to read the paper and turn out the light!"
It's like, I can't, with these words and these terms! Plus she always says that she knows what I'm thinking. I'll be telling a story and there's a million questions and interruptions and I'm like, "No, I just want to tell the story; I don't want you to say anything." But, really, she's lovely: Jewish, from Westchester. Perfect.
And your boys?
Gold: My kids are 15 and 10. With the 15-year-old, it's just the usual: I'm an idiot, I know nothing, I am the worst mother. They really build up your self-esteem.
They have four Jewish moms -- would you not kill yourself? Four Jewish, annoying mothers. Well, two moms, two step-moms. I used to think, "Oh, they're going to be so nice to women because they're surrounded by women, but now I'm thinking, "No, they're probably going to hate women."
Are your kids funny, too?
Gold: They're both pretty funny. Like the other night, the 15-year-old, Henry -- we live in a small apartment in New York with one bathroom, it's so annoying -- and his brother are both in the living room. Henry's doing his homework, also known as Facebook, and I am sitting there at my computer and I'm doing, like, work, and I said, "Look, don't talk to me, I have a lot of work to do."
All of a sudden, a minute later, Henry starts playing the "Jeopardy" think music -- you know what I mean, when they're awaiting your final answer? -- like over and over. And I'm like, "Well, you know, that is kind of funny."
They actually named a sandwich after me at the Carnegie Deli this summer, and Henry goes, to me, "What did they name the sandwich, the 'Who's Judy Gold?'" But you know what, I thought it was hilarious. [The actual name of the sandwich is the "Gold E. Lox."]
So did you only have kids to give you more comedic material?
Gold: No, but now I'm thinking that it's a good excuse. My ex, she actually wanted to have kids. I thought about it -- I love family stuff -- but when you're gay, it's so hard. It's not like it just happens, you don't go, "Oh, my God, my kids were a mistake, and now I have a family." You really have to plan and think about it.
Once my ex had Henry and I adopted him and I had the second one and she adopted him, I loved it. It's a whole other world that people who don't have kids have no clue about. Like when a comic calls me and tells me they're tired, I'm like, "Don't even start with me -- you have no idea what tired is. Oh, you did two sets last night and then got drunk and got up at 1 -- and you're tired?"
Still, being a parent definitely expands your life. I've met so many people because I'm a parent. On the other hand, I have no money, I have two kids who live with me who hate my guts. But they're really sweet when they're sick.