I’m kind of at a loss as to what to say about Julie Goldman that hasn’t already been said. I mean, every time I find myself in a k-hole watching videos of her perform, I always turn to my dog in fits of laughter as to say, “We’re experiencing one of the funniest lez jokes ever, right?” She’s never as impressed as I am, but she’s a dog and rarely finds things exciting unless they’re dead or smell like poo.
I can’t even say that Goldman is a best-kept secret, or up-and-coming because I am probably the last to hitch a ride on that bandwagon since first seeing her at pride last year. What I will tell you that she is someone I wish I’d have known about much sooner and someone I would love to see hitch her own brand of funny on to a national platform like SNL, along side her former Big Gay Sketch Show co-star Kate McKinnon. The day I see a hilariously irreverent, butch lesbian on late night TV is the day I give up because all of my dreams will have come true.
But until that moment in time, Section II Presents Julie Goldman: Lady Gentleman, a riotous romp through Goldman’s twisted thoughts on childbirth (gross), family (ridiculous) and, of course, all things lez (duh).
Within the first 15 seconds of Goldman’s set, she drops a f-bomb and a d-bomb, meaning, of course, dildo. And not just one dildo, but several, along with some talk about vibrating gadgets and butt plugs. Apparently the masterminds behind a lesbian-centric comedy show decided that sex toys would be an appropriate door prize and, let’s be real, they were very right because Goldman knows just how to use them to break the ice, and we all know that shit is expensive. Within minutes, Goldman has set the tone of what promises to be just the right mix of lesbian stereotypes and cultural criticisms. If toys aren’t your jam, Goldman’s offer of fingering everyone at 10 p.m. is soon to follow.
Deftly moving between stabs at her previous hometown of New York City, “And then the subway — somebody’s eating chicken wings and clipping their toenails. It’s 7 a.m. It’s to early for chicken wings,” to her new home in Los Angeles, Goldman manages to paint a dynamically hilarious portrait of following her dreams of comedy to the west coast where she exclaims, “Hollywood! As you can see, it’s working out great. The doors are open wide for butch lesbians!” She is quick to quip, “They’re not, they hate us, but I don’t care.”
And there in lies the crux of what makes Goldman one of the most naturally hilarious women in comedy, she just doesn’t care. She offers the perfect paradox of self-confident self-deprecation. “I did get gay married, and then I got gay divorced. So I’m a real catch, ladies. Already been divorced, so who wants to take a ride on the train?” Does she play off of lesbian stereotypes, you betcha, but she quickly proves herself to be the antithesis of the Prius driving, mother-nature loving lady in such a cutting way, that you forget she’s talking about lesbians and realize that her stories transcend all those terms and show that we’re all making fun of the same things.
She doesn’t dance around sensitivities and worry about being politically correct. Instead, she appreciates the differences between people, and feeds off of the nuances of how we relate to one another. As she says, motioning to herself, “I’m putting this out into the world, so when you see a big dyke Jew coming at you I want you to say, ‘there’s a dyke Jew.’”
It’s that kind of self-awareness that allows her to jump between jokes about hating mother earth because it, “never got her a sitcom,” to explaining that she’s not “gonna get in a Prius with the girlfriend that I don’t even have, and put vegetable oil in our car and stop every mile and adopt a dog and sing songs to it. I’m not doing it.” She knows who she is, where certain assumptions lie and how hilarious tearing them apart can be.
Knowing how to make fun of herself is what makes her such a great storyteller as well. One of the best tangents in Lady Gentleman is that of her going to a lesbian wedding in the Bay Area. “I had to go to a lez wedding,” she says. “Exactly, it just makes you laugh.” A lesbian wedding held at a campground would obviously hold an array of stories to write home about, but no one is better able to pick apart what makes it so funny like Goldman. Again, motioning to herself she starts, “You’re soaking all this in and you’re saying to yourself, she wants to camp. I know, I know I’m a butch lez, but I’m a Jew first and I want a hotel.” From there she goes into the comparisons between a lesbian wedding and a womyn’s festival. “We can’t get together without making it a lesbian festivus with everyone’s boobs hanging out,” she quips before explaining, “The Goldmans don’t do nudity.”
Having dated a number of ladies of the butch variety, I am quite familiar with my dates getting sir’ed and Goldman’s own take on the experience is rich with commentary and honesty. Starting with her mother’s questions, “Julie, why do you have to wear men’s clothes?” to which she quickly responds, “Well when I wear them, they’re women’s clothes.” She goes further to say, “That’s what people don’t understand. It’s not for everybody, but for me I have to say it, I’m not trying to be a man, just trying to be myself. Just a lady gentleman about town trying to be me.” But she admits that she’s not immune as she deadpans, “but I do get called sir 50,000 times a day.”
She ends the nearly hour long set in the best way she knows how, with her guitar. Quite honestly, one of the first things I knew about Julie was her innate ability to mix social commentary, sarcasm and satirizing the music of our people, folk music. The song, called “Pro Choice,” covers all the stereotypes of choosing to be gay. “And if this is a choice, it’s the best choice I never made.”
From lesbian weddings to expectations of grandchildren to her Jewish upbringing, the topics Goldman chooses are very personal to her, and coincidentally universal. Her unique voice and unequivocally dry, deadpan delivery is what makes them very much her own and her vision of the world is what makes her comedy some of the most raucous stand-up. As she finishes her song about being put upon by pity and religion she whispers a quiet, “Go fuck yourself” before genuinely thanking everyone involved. She makes her way off stage, but not before encouraging the audience to enjoy their brand new dildos.
Julie Goldman: Lady Gentleman is available now from Section II.