Wednesday, 28 Feb 2024

How a Comedian With a One-Woman Show Spends Her Sundays

Judy Gold owes her comedy career to a dare. One night while she was attending Rutgers University, a classmate challenged her to do stand-up in a student lounge, Ms. Gold recalled. “That was the first laugh I got,” she said. “It was the most amazing feeling, like an out-of-body experience.”

Forty years — and two books, three albums, three solo shows, a slew of comedy specials and a podcast later — Ms. Gold, 60, is still making people laugh. She now does it three times a week in a one-woman show, “Everything Hurts Everywhere All at Once,” running through Sept. 3 at the Post Office Cafe and Cabaret in Provincetown, Mass.

Though Ms. Gold has lived in a rental apartment on the Upper West Side for decades, she purchased a three-bedroom condo in Provincetown in 1994. During the summer, she lives there with her fiancée, Elysa Halpern, 61, a therapist, whom she met on a blind date arranged by Time Out New York in 2007. They’re sometimes joined by Ms. Gold’s two children, Henry, 26, and Ben, 22.

NO TRIGGERS The alarm clock here is broken, so at 9 a.m. I wake up to Sonata in E Major by Scarlatti on my iPhone. I have a hard time getting out of bed because I suffer from diurnal depression and alarms are triggers. Classical music, which I love, doesn’t assault my brain. I might do a nine-minute snoozy.

COFFEE AND A SONG I go downstairs to make coffee and I hear Elysa singing, which she does when she wakes up. I love that about her. Right now she’s into “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” My current grind is Kicking Horse Coffee’s Grizzly Claw. I drink it black and strong — I’m a purist.

READY TO GO I put on my tennis clothes and go outside to get The Times, because they don’t put it on my doorstep. I stretch on the floor for five minutes and then make us a shake with almond milk, whey protein, berries, bananas, powdered peanut butter, kale and chia seeds. Then I put my tennis bag together and pack two bottles of water: one with ice, the other with watermelon-flavored Liquid I.V., my favorite of these little packets.

SLOW COMMUTE By 11 a.m. we leave for tennis. It’s only two miles, but in the summer it can take 15 minutes because everyone is driving five miles an hour on Bradford Street, which makes me crazy. I’m not a relaxed person — it’s my New York angst. I’ve discussed this in therapy multiple times.

HOLDING COURT We love the Provincetown Tennis Club. It’s something out of a WASP-y New England Jane Austen novel. It’s very social and friendly. I love doubles — it’s like a chess game filled with strategy. Sometimes we see Billie Jean King or Delia Ephron. I have a Wilson racket, which we spin to see who goes first by calling “wine” or “margarita.” We play for the next 90 minutes. Then we sweep the courts, drive back home and scream at how slow everyone is.

ON THE SAND We change into our bathing suits and make sandwiches. Usually it’s turkey and Provolone with lettuce, tomato and avocado on whole wheat. I like hot chili relish mayo; Elysa likes mustard. And Cape Cod “40 percent less fat” chips. We pack the newspaper, our Kindles, towels, chairs and umbrella, and drive to Herring Cove. It used to be gays to the left, straights to the right. Now the straights are in the gay area.

TIME FOR A DIP We set up and run into the ocean. It’s a mystery why we both love the ocean so much. We’ve decided the beach and ocean are the only places we don’t fight. We hug and swim and talk. The water is like glass. Then we have lunch. People who bump into us say hi and eat our Cape Cod chips.

PLEASURE READ Then I read. There’s something about novels on the beach. It’s all pleasure. I just finished “Daisy Jones & the Six” and have started “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.” Elysa just finished the Carole King biography. I eventually fall asleep with my mouth open and snore. By 5-ish we’re packing up.

FOCUS ON JOKES Back home it’s work mode. It’s hard to communicate with me because I’m focused on what I’m doing that night on stage. There’s a palpable shift. I sit with my notebook at the kitchen table and go through jokes, usually new ones I’ve written during the week and want to include. Then I shower, dress, get my face on and get my bag ready.

HEAD SPACE I ride my red Trek bike and enjoy the 10 minutes of solitary time to get into the right head. You would think getting on stage is no big deal, but I still have anxiety.

SECOND HOME The Post Office is a second home. Phyllis Schlossberg, who owned it, gave a lot of performers their start. I come minutes before a show starts because I don’t like waiting around to go on. I sit at the bar and get a water; I don’t drink before a set because I want every synapse of my brain working. If I have a new bit, I can’t wait to get to it. The show is about what annoys me, like cancel culture, antisemitism, stupidity and turning 60.

TWO SCOOPS Elysa has come to the show, and since I can’t eat a big meal before performing, and most restaurants are closed after 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday, we stop and get ice cream. I’m a traditionalist: two scoops — one coffee with chocolate chunks, and the other is just chocolate, with chocolate sprinkles — and a sugar cone. Elysa is very experimental with her food. She likes to try weird combos, like ginger molasses.

RIDE BACK After a show we bike home on Commercial Street, two old lesbians with their bells going off because everyone is in the middle of the street. At home we watch TV. We just watched the Mary Tyler Moore documentary, which I loved, and Netflix’s “Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate,” about queer Berlin in the ’30s. I always say I’m going to stay up, then I fall asleep. Elysa looks at me to see if I’m asleep, and eventually says, “Judy, I’m going upstairs, let’s go.” Then I can’t move. I stay on the couch, and get up at 1:30 or 2 a.m. and go upstairs and I’m out.

Sunday Routine readers can follow Judy Gold on X and Instagram at @jewdygold.

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