Saturday, November 19, 2011

Theater Review: The Judy Show

I recently saw the off-Broadway play The Judy Show. An absolutely hilarious one-person show starring comedian Judy Gold, it’s all about Gold’s life as a lesbian and a Jew, and her quest to get a sitcom on TV featuring a family with gay parents.

I totally loved this play. I saw it with my mom, and the two of us were literally clutching our sides with laughter. While I would have really appreciated if she specifically identified with the feminist movement, it’s clear that Gold does support the ideals of women’s rights. She’s also extremely active in gay rights (a feminist cause), hosting the Sirius/XM weekly radio show “Hatched By Two Chicks” and the GLAAD Media Awards, as well as performing on a half-hour comedy special for LOGO, among other activities.

In the play, she talks about growing up Jewish in predominantly Gentile Clark, New Jersey. Being Jewish is a clear part of Gold’s identity: she usually describes herself as a “6”3 lesbian Jew.” (I appreciated her usage of the word Jew as opposed to Jewish, since people are often reluctant to label themselves so blatantly as Jews.) A lot of her jokes are about her stereotypically Jewish mother, obsessed with her children and the state of Jewry. A lot of my own mother’s idiosyncrasies are similar to what Gold was describing, although I never realized they were Jewish mother things. (I thought everyone took the soap and shampoos from hotels! I means, it’s just there for the taking…and doesn’t everyone look at lists of names and point out the Jewish ones?) Gold had her rebellious moments, though: in high school, she ate cheeseburgers, knowing that her parents would be horrified at this blatant disregard of Jewish law. She now calls herself observant, which I think is beautiful. I know many LGBT Jews feel it’s impossible to be religious and gay at the same time, and the fact that Gold is able to do both really gives me hope.

Another thing I found interesting was that Gold didn’t talk about coming out as gay to her friends. I think it’s great that she never felt a need to announce to the world that she’s a lesbian - I mean, do straight people have to tell everyone their sexuality? Gold did struggle with telling her parents, though. Her father knew she was gay, but she was never able to tell him directly, and she deeply regretted it when he died. She eventually told her mother and sister. While it took her mom a while to get used to the idea (she originally told people that Gold’s “roommate” had a baby and she adopted him), she came around.

The whole premise of The Judy Show is that Gold wants a sitcom about her family called The Judy Show: a divorced lesbian couple with two sons. Gold was fascinated with TV during her childhood and adolescence: in the play, she explains how shows like The Jeffersons, Maude, Three’s Company, and The Brady Bunch shaped her views on the world and her expectations for life (which, unfortunately, were not always met). She went to several networks and pitched the idea, but was repeatedly turned down, even by LOGO. OWN actually began filming, but then decided to nix the show because of the controversy it would stir (something the financially-suffering network feels it can’t afford).

I do find it interesting that Gold has faced so much opposition and disinterest to her idea. Modern Family, which has won and been nominated for dozens of prestigious awards, has a gay couple with an adopted child; Will and Grace, which was also wildly successful, featured two gay men and their hags. Why is the concept of a whole show centered around a family with two mommies so threatening to TV producers? Shouldn’t TV shows reflect the reality of the world, which now includes families with gay parents?

Whatever the case, I look forward to the day when kids - hopefully my own - can watch The Judy Show on TV every week on prime time.

Get your tickets fast - The Judy Show closes on November 27!

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