Judy Gold is in unfamiliar surroundings.
“Where the fuck is the remote?” she says with her trademark semi-mock outrage. “Why can’t I find the fucking remote?”
The 47-year-old stand-up comedian is in a Washington hotel room and just back from a Whole Foods run before heading off to a tech rehearsal at Theater J for her new one-woman show, “Judy Gold is Mommy Queerest!” And she can’t find a thing.
After answering a few questions about the show, her answers liberally sprinkled with f-bombs, the frustration returns.
“I have no utensils,” she says mid-sentence. “There are no fucking utensils in this room. Oh here they are.” But the joy of finding them disappears in less than a second. “There’s like a fork and a spoon and that’s it,” she growls.
The negativity might be unbearable were it not tempered by Gold’s wit. Somehow one senses, even in her pissiest moments, she’s not really that annoyed. Some of it’s her shtick and, in a way, her charm. Feigned indignant behavior, after all, is a hallmark of many a standup.
Gold calls “Queerest,” “pretty much the story of my life, of how I became a comic and my addiction to family sitcoms.” It’s been in previews this week but officially debuts Saturday with Sunday’s 7:30 p.m. performance featuring an opening night reception. The Theater J production, its second, runs through Jan. 3 at the D.C. JCC.
“The Brady Bunch,” Gold says, is her “favorite of all time,” but also mentions “The Partridge Family,” “All in the Family,” “Maude” and “Room 222.” She briefly considers naming “Mary Tyler Moore” her “all-time favorite,” but quickly realizes it’s too tough a call to make.
“I can’t even say,” she says. “Basically any family that wasn’t mine was my favorite. … They’re like members of your family. So there I am laying on the carpeting in a dream world watching and this show kind of tells the story of that.”
But “Mommy” has other dreams, too. Gold says though she loves live theater, she remains dumbfounded that she hasn’t landed her own sitcom.
“Here I am 47 years old and I don’t have my own show. Why the fuck don’t I have my own show? I have no fucking idea.”
With two Emmys she won for writing and producing “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” on the bookshelf of the New York apartment she shares with her two sons (8 and 13), Gold has no trouble setting pitch meetings with network execs. And they always go well, she says.
“Once I’m in the meeting and they’re cracking up and you believe they’re thinking how could they not, but then they don’t. I have them cracking up for a half hour, but of course it’s always the same shit. America’s not ready for a gay family.”
Gold insists the show would be autobiographical. Citing her two kids, her ex who lives in the same building, her annoying mother and her therapist girlfriend, her life, she says, is perfect sitcom fodder. She also thinks it could break down barriers for gays in a Norman Lear kind of way.
If America could watch a family in which they could see themselves except for the fact that it was gay, Gold says, the marriage issue would be solved in a few years by a cultural attitude shift. Gold remembers how much she was shaped by the sitcom families she watched as a kid and dreams of having that kind of influence.
So does stand up and theater satisfy some of that itch? She says yes, calling live theater “the greatest thing in the world.” But the simple fact is it never reaches as many people as TV can.
But for now, Gold is making do with what she has and it’s going well. “Mommy,” which debuted in Montreal in July, has garnered mixed reviews but nearly all critics have confessed it’s undeniably funny. Substantial tweaking and re-writing has preceded its D.C. premiere to the point that Gold now calls it a “completely different show,” even in the last month. One big change was the addition of Kate Moira Ryan, who co-wrote Gold’s last show, “25 Questions for a Jewish Mother,” which had a 2008 D.C. run. When Gold started writing “Mommy,” Ryan was busy with other projects but as the project gestated, Ryan became an essential collaborator again.
Gold takes Fridays off for Shabbat. She says being Jewish is part of who is she though she doesn’t “believe every detail of it.”
“I try to take all the good things from it,” she says.
Equally factoring into her persona, of course, is her out-and-proud lesbianism. She’s been out professionally for well over a decade and says she can’t believe America is still having a debate about same-sex marriage.
“I can’t imagine telling anyone they cannot love another person and their relationship is not equal,” she says.
‘Judy Gold is Mommy Queerest!’
Saturday at 8, Sunday at 3 and 7:30 p.m. and additional performances through Jan. 3
$30 to $55 (half-price tickets available for 35 and younger)
D.C. JCC’s Goldman Theater
1529 16th Street, N.W.