Judy Gold Takes On Free Speech


Judy Gold is a stand-up comedian and winner of two Emmy Awards. She hosts the weekly podcast “Kill Me Now” and is the author of the forthcoming “Yes I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians We Are All in Trouble” (Dey Street Books). She spoke to The Jewish Week last week at the close of her recent Off-Broadway run of “25 Questions for a Jewish Mother.”

Your upcoming book tackles the issue of free speech. How did this become an important cause for you?

When you silence people horrible things happen. Why is it Ok for Trump to lie, call people names, put the press in danger, and yet a comedian whose only goal is to make the audience laugh is vilified or cancelled?

I have Holocaust jokes in my act. I have #MeToo jokes in my act. I’m the most politically incorrect person. But the jokes have to be good.

Humor is the most palatable way to talk about a subversive topic. Smart comedy makes you think. And it makes you laugh and hopefully see the world through someone else’s eyes.

How has your identity enriched your approach to comedy?

My entire career I’ve been told “you’re too Jewish” and then when I came out on stage it was all “stop with the lezbo.” I’m a Jew who happens to be gay. I’m a comic that happens to be gay. Being gay is who I love. Being Jewish is who I am. It’s the way I think, it’s the way I look, it’s the way I eat, the way I talk. It’s everything about me.

Has your perception of anti-Semitism changed this past year?

I can’t tell you how affected I was by those killings in Pittsburgh. I was born in 1962 and I thought the Holocaust was so long ago. All of this has just broken my heart. I can’t believe that this would happen in this country.

My mother was constantly shoving down my throat, “You’re a Jew” and “everyone hates us.” I thought she was paranoid — not so much anymore.

Has your perspective as a gay Jew changed over the years?

I feel like now we’re at the point in gay rights where Jews were when I was born — after the Holocaust. The Jews were so vocal. Now you have Ivy League students who don’t know when the Holocaust happened.

We were so ensconced in this fight [for gay rights] and we’re now at the point where we’re still fighting for our rights, but we’re seen, we’re fearless.