Good as Gold

Judy Gold gets lots of letters.

Actually, the popular comedian gets e-mails, now that she has finally launched her own Web site, www.judygold.com. She often receives e-mails from male fans that read something like, “Where can I meet a nice, sexy, intellectually stimulating Jewish woman like you.”

Being that Gold is a lesbian, the answer is: “Nowhere, fool!”

“I get e-mails from people asking me whether they should circumcise their kids,” says Gold. “What am I, a rabbi?”

She isn’t, of course, but that doesn’t prevent her from weighing in on the subject. “Can I say something?” she asks. “I think people should get their kids circumcised. I know Jews who say, ‘I have to pick my battles. My husband doesn’t want our son circumcised.’ Pick your battles? To me, a bris is your first rite of passage as Jew.”

That determined Jewish identity has long been part of the Judy Gold comic persona, which she brings back to Kung Pao Kosher Comedy.

For the second straight year, Gold will headline the always-sold-out event. Joining her in the line-up are fellow comics Page Hurwitz, Brad Zimmerman and host/founder Lisa Geduldig for multiple shows Dec. 23 to 26 at San Francisco’s New Asia Restaurant. (Warning: The food is not kosher.)

Says the two-time Emmy winner, “I love San Francisco. Last year was a great show. Every comedy club tries to do some Jewy Christmas eve thing, but not in a Chinese restaurant.”

The whole “Jews and Chinese food” thing resonates with Gold, who grew up in a kosher home. She still keeps kosher, complete with separate fleishik and milchik utensils and dishes in her own New York City home.

Gold’s Jewishness figures as much in her on-stage act as in her home kitchen. The 6-foot-3-inch redhead has been a top draw on the comedy club circuit for years. Her HBO specials and other appearances have earned her numerous awards and accolades.

And she has her Jewish mother Ruth to thank for much of it. Ruth has been the butt of many Judy Gold jokes over the years — even to the point of Gold playing on stage her mother’s real tape-recorded phone messages. But Gold says mom loves her daughter’s act, and it’s obvious there’s real love behind the ribbing.

“There were a couple of things I did she didn’t like,” she says, “so I took them out. But I don’t think you’ll find any comic with a happy childhood. My whole personality is based on being an outsider and being ridiculously ostracized. But I was always loved and felt safe at home. Those are the two most important things.”

After the Kung Pao stint, Gold has several other irons in the fire, including a TV pilot for a reality cooking show and more standup comedy. Most exciting for her is a one-woman show she co-wrote with Kate Ryan called “G-d Doesn’t Pay Rent Here.”

“We interviewed Jewish mothers all over the country,” says Gold. “It’s like ‘The Vagina Monologues’ of Jewish mothers. We did it in Seattle and it went great.”

Gold admits one of the nicest things about performing her more theatrical one-woman show was that people were actually listening. As popular as she is in the comedy clubs, while performing she still competes with those occasional audience members bent on drinking themselves into noisy oblivion.

But Gold has her own safe haven from the circuit. She has two young sons, Henry and Ben, and contrary to the image of the ever-traveling standup comic hanging out in bars, Gold revels in family life.

“I focused on my career completely for 15 years, and it got me to the point where I make a great living and I do what I love. A lot of comics don’t have families, but I have a nice Jewy family. I’m even a class parent in Hebrew school.”

Kung Pao Kosher Comedy happens 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 23-25; 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26, at New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific Ave., S.F. Tickets: $36-$54. Information: (415) 522-3737.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is J.'s news editor. He can be reached at dan@jweekly.com.