Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 7, 2008

25 Questions for a Jewish Mother

CityStage, Springfield
through March 9
By Shera Cohen

Judy Gold, star and co-writer of this stand-up comedy performance, has a Jewish mother. Judy Gold is a Jewish mother. This talented, funny woman is also 6’3” and gay. These facts are not passing tidbits of information, but are essential to the story told onstage.

Perhaps one would anticipate this latest program on the CityStage roster to be a show replicating one from Channel 98’s Comedy Central. Well, there is that, and the audience certainly enjoyed those many moments. Speaking of audience, opening night’s attendance was huge.

The voice over of a “typical” Jewish mother (from New Jersey, not the Bronx) starts the show as Judy comes onto the stage – a set with one microphone and one chair. The pace is fast, the flow from story to story is smooth, and the Jewish phrases are liberal. While she defined many of the terms, it would be curious to know if parts of her act were missed by non-Jews. The saying about Woody Allen might apply – you have to be Jewish or from Manhattan to fully appreciate him. Yet, Judy has a huge following, numerous awards, television appearances, so undoubtedly, many appreciate her. Equal in affect to the humor is her candor. Her life story becomes an open book, with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yet, even the latter are given comedic spins.

Most impressive are the numerous segments when Judy portrays the Jewish mothers who she interviewed across the United States. That one chair is the complete set for this myriad of unique women, as Judy turns on her acting talents. Merely with accents and her seating position, Gold takes on the persona of the Jewish women, each having their own dramatic story. Perhaps a half-dozen segments are strewn throughout the act, when Judy the comic becomes Judy the actress. Indeed, these reminiscences are quite serious; i.e. intermarriage, female segregation in synagogues, and death in concentration camps. It’s these vignettes which make Judy Gold and her performance different, and much better, than even the best of television or touring shows.