Judy Gold explained why comedians should have total freedom of speech, ahead of her Arden show Nov. 23.
Whenever Judy Gold sees the Comedy Police cruising down her block — she stands at attention, smiles and gives them the one-finger salute.
Gold is a comedienne, actor and award-winning writer who’s enjoyed a long career on stage, while not holding her tongue.
She’ll bring her lauded, pull-no-punches style of humor to the Arden Gild Hall Saturday, Nov. 23.
Gold has written and starred in two acclaimed off-Broadway shows: “The Judy Show — My Life as a Sitcom” and “25 Questions for a Jewish Mother.”
She’s also appeared in TV shows including “30 Rock” and “2 Broke Girls.” She won two Emmy awards for writing and producing “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.”
In 2020, Gold will perform in the eighth annual Patrice O’Neal Benefit, honoring the late legend who passed in 2011.
Gold dished on why comics should have total freedom to say whatever is on their minds, a new project she’s working on, and more.
Have you thought about writing a new theater production?
I’m actually writing a book right now. I’m doing my rewrites now. It’s coming out next year. I want to do a stage production based on the book.
What can you tell us about the book?
It’s a book about freedom of speech called “Yes, I Can Say That.” It’s from a comedian’s perspective and I believe in total freedom of speech. You can’t shut anyone up. It’s the end of democracy if you shut anyone up, even if you disagree with them. Shutting people up who are racist, homophobic, xenophobic and just awful people doesn’t mean they still don’t exist. We still need to know where they are.
How’d you feel if someone heard a part from one of your bits that they didn’t appreciate, possibly something that was anti-Donald Trump, and then they used their freedom of speech to boycott you?
That is disgusting. They can say they’re exercising their freedom of speech, but it’s called “context” and it’s called “intent.” If you’re going to hear one word out of an entire bit and react to it instead of what my intention was, or what the context is that I’m saying it in, then that’s your problem.
Context and intent are the key to freedom of speech. I could say something is the most horrible word ever. Then people would get mad at me for just saying the word, instead of listening to the entire sentence. Why are comedians held to a higher standard than the president of the United States? A comedian’s only goal is to make people laugh. [Politicians] are making laws that are affecting people’s lives, and separating families. I’m just telling a joke.
Some people feel they’ve the authority to decide what the world should laugh at. What do you think of that?
It’s just fake. It’s called a sense of humor. It’s a personal thing. Some people laugh at someone slipping on a banana peel; and some people don’t. It’s all about what your sensibility is. So because you don’t understand sarcasm, it doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t laugh at sarcasm.
Patrice O’Neal didn’t hold his tongue. Do you think he would’ve got away with that in today’s climate?
Yes! And I’m still saying whatever the fu** I want to say. There’s a bunch of us who say whatever the fu** we want to say. The only way a stand-up can know if a joke works is to do it in front of an audience.
When a stand-up is out in a club — or experimenting with a photo, video or something, when they’re out doing their work — a lot of times we go over the line. Then we say, “okay, we can’t go that far with that, because they only find it funny if I go this far.” The only way to figure that out is in front of an audience, which is why all phones and recording devices should be banned from comedy clubs while people are doing their work.