With their quick wit, pop culture references and often self-deprecating humor, there’s no wonder why queer Jewish women have been taking the once boys club comedy world by the balls. Here are some you should have on your radar.
Raised by hippie Jewish artists from the East Coast in a small Ohio town and having a proclivity towards feminist activism gave Jessica Halem the perfect fuel for a career in comedy.
“Getting bullied on the playground everyday will teach you how to sharpen your wit. The only way to fight back the mean girls was to be faster and funnier,” Halem said. Some recurring themes in Halem’s sets include childhood, feminism, sex and identity. “Also, I’m still working out feeling like a loser,” she added. On a serious note, Halem says that before taking the stage, she remembers her 9-year-old self and how alone she felt and takes a moment to honor everyone else who has felt left out, marginalized, silenced or invisible.
Heather Gold started doing stand up to cope with how much she hated being in law school. Gold never does the same set twice, adapting each set list based on the room. I asked her if that was exhausting and she said it actually gives her a lot of energy.
“My “solo” shows are interactive and they changed based on the participation of everyone there,” she said.
Never intending to make a career out of comedy, Gold is now in her 11th year doing an interactive panel at SXSW and has performed all over the world for varying audiences, including headlining MacWorld and performing on lesbian cruises. “When I started mocking the Net during a ridiculous job in the dot com boom, the career just happened on its own,” she said. “Frustration has been very good to me.”
Dana Goldberg likes her comedy with a side of humanitarianism, helping to raise over $200,000 during performances and live actions for the Human Rights Campaign. She recently starred in her own comedy special on the LOGO network called One Night Stand Up. Goldberg was also voted one of the top five Funiest Lesbians in the Country by Curve magazine.
You may be most familiar with Drysdale from The Time Traveling Lesbian. HBO helped fund the web series written by and starring Drysdale which combines her love of science fiction with making out with straight girls. But Drysdale is not stranger to straight up stand up, having performed countless shows all over the country.
“My show’s about a hundred other things [besides lesbian jokes],” she told Time Magazine back in 2006, when they also named her a “Comedy Innovator.” A hundred other things, including AIDS, Hurricane Katrina (which she devised cheery mock-folk songs for), and Brokeback Mountain (which she turned into a video game.)
Watch your back, Sarah Silverman.