Judy Gold dreams of her gay-family sitcom

Stand-up comedian Judy Gold stars in her second one-woman show, "The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom," which opens Wednesday at the Geffen Playhouse.

In your show, you talk about pitching a sitcom or a reality show based on your life.

No, it's always a sitcom. At one point, someone shoots video for a reality show and pitches it, but the show really is about me pitching my life as a sitcom — the second half of the show. The first half is my addiction to sitcoms and how that's always been my dream.

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You've been pitching a sitcom about a family headed by a lesbian couple for years with no luck. Do you think that gay families are an even stickier wicket than gay marriage?

Right. I think it's because of children. People tend to sexualize anything homosexual. It becomes about the sex, and that of course is not what it's about. It's about the fact that we are a family. It all boils down to that choice thing — no one would choose to have a more difficult life, to have fewer rights and benefits and be treated as a second-class citizen. Look, it's all about money. Advertisers are not going to advertise because it's a gay family.

And that's what a gay network told you?

The gay network, when I pitched it, they said, "Where's all the sex?" "Well, we're married, so..." You know, it's a family. The gay network was at that time used to "The L Word" and shows like that, and maybe if shows like that were totally real, there would be more gay people.

Your concept sounds pretty wholesome.

Right, that's what's so funny about it. It's a nontraditional family in the most traditional genre of television. Look, if I was married to a man and I had the same life situation that I have, it's the perfect recipe for a sitcom.

I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I live in a 950-square-foot apartment with one bathroom and two sons. My ex used to live in my building and we would share custody. My building is like a kibbutz where we know all the neighbors; everybody kind of helps out. My mother is just a character beyond character, and I'm a comic. My kids are constantly telling me I'm not funny, and why can't you have a normal job?

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I got the sense that this is still something you want to do.

Hello? Of course. When I think back to my childhood, growing up in New Jersey in a traditional home, the shows that I grew up with — shows like "The Brady Bunch," "The Partridge Family," "Good Times," "The Jeffersons," "All in the Family," "[The] Mary Tyler Moore [Show]," "Rhoda," "One Day at a Time" — those shows are just as much a part of my upbringing as every other factor — school, my family — they're a part of who I am. It's such an amazing genre, because when you think of Norman Lear and the subversive topics that he dealt with in this format and creating a dialogue that never would have occurred... We all watched the show at the same time then, and this is what people talked about.

Are you a boomer?

Well, I'm 50. Don't tell anyone.

TV was kind of boomers' equivalent of computers, in the sense that it was an ever-present small screen everyone was glued to.

Exactly. And for people living in rural areas... When I did the show in New York, every week we'd have a "talk back" with a celebrity and we'd talk about how television affected them. And it was amazing when I interviewed Chely Wright — she's a country-western singer — she was brought up in Kansas and she said she'd never seen a Jew and was never around African American people. "All in the Family" taught her so much stuff.

When I think of my show, it's a traditional family, nonthreatening sitcom that is hilarious. And when I think of some lonely kid on a farm in the middle of nowhere, who knows he's gay or she's gay and doesn't know what his or her life can be, for her or him to be able to put on the TV and say, "Oh, my God, I can have this," or for my kids to be able to see a family like theirs on television, that would be an unbelievable milestone.

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Now that you're in the belly of the beast, are you hoping to plant some seeds here with the show? Are you taking any meetings?

Of course. I'm always taking meetings. Look, I put it all out there. This has been a dream of mine forever.

Now that New York has marriage equality, is marriage something you really want to do?

I would love to get married, first of all, from my children's perspective. People don't think of children when they think of gay marriage, but I do have children and for them to see their family validated as other families are validated and protected by our government, yes. But I really do not want to get married until the Supreme Court overturns DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] and until our federal government acknowledges gay marriage or a gay relationship. There are 1,128 federal benefits that even [gay] people who are legally married in certain states do not get. And what infuriates me is, I pay my taxes, I'm not a criminal, I have a partner [Elysa Halpern] and two children, how does my life affect all these other people? It's insane when you think about the people who are entitled to those 1,128 benefits — people like [convicted murderer] Erik Menendez, who got married in jail. He's got more rights than I do.

In the show you talk about making a family without clearly defined gender roles. How do you deal with that?

There are plenty of gay relationships that have clearly defined gender roles, but I think gender roles, especially with the women's rights movement, have changed a lot. This is an issue that gay relationships do share with feminists who are straight. I do believe that it's something that we don't talk about, but when there are clearly defined gender roles, it is much simpler. Because you don't have to think, which people apparently don't like to do.



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