The Judy Show
nytheatre.com review by David Gordon
July 5, 2011
Through the lens of her favorite sitcoms from the '60s, '70s, and '80s, comedienne Judy Gold gives us an anthropological tour of her life in her uproarious new comedy The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom. The 80-minute monologue, co-written with Kate Moira Ryan and directed by Amanda Charlton, will no-doubt delight Gold's voracious fan base (out in full-force at the performance I attended) and probably gain her some new fans, as well.
She grew up in suburban New Jersey, one of three children in a traditional Jewish household with older parents, never seeing her own life in shows like The Brady Bunch. She went to sleep-away camp, a rite of passage, she notes, for many Jewish children, an experience she figured would be like M*A*S*H, minus the war, but was proven wrong. She notes that she hoped high school would be like Welcome Back, Kotter, though being 6'3" and in the marching band, she was teased a lot. Gold, however, found her calling in college, making people laugh, doing stand-up for her dorm mates at Rutgers. Eventually she moved to New York, hoping to "make it after all" like Mary Tyler Moore's Mary Richards, only as a successful female comedienne instead of a TV producer. Along the way, she met a long-term partner, with whom she had two boys, though the relationship ended after a number of years. In true sitcom fashion, Gold's now-ex, a corporate executive, moved into a different apartment in their building, so the kids could be near both mothers.
Of course, it's a lot funnier the way she tells it, peppered with her signature brand of humor that's off-color and heartwarming at the exact same time (just wait 'til you see how she conjures up the image of her ex-partner, who didn't wish to be named). Jews will likely laugh the most as they (we) realize how we've experienced everything that Gold relates about her own family, down to the common stereotype of the person (in this case, her mother) who steals Sweet-n-Low packets from the diner. There is particular poignancy as she discusses coming out, and how she intentionally missed the golden opportunity when her father promised her acceptance and love, no matter what. He died a few weeks later.
Yet perhaps the most enlightening moments of The Judy Show come late in the piece, when she describes her quest to pitch a sitcom about her life to television networks. While she goes through a number of networks, all of whom turn it down for one reason or another, the most telling is a rejection from the gay network, presumably LOGO, which apparently feels that the concept of two Jewish mothers and their kids isn't hot enough.
Of course, gay families aren't strange to television now, with Modern Family leading the way, but as Gold pointed out in a recent interview with Michael Musto, the couples are rarely, if ever, women. Hopefully Gold's perspective will eventually hit TV stations (a reality pilot she filmed can be found online, she mentions). I have no doubt that her family would be just as functional as—if not more than—the Bradys and the Partridges.