Truth, activism and comedy – these are the worlds in which our 2018 JQ Awards Garden Brunch Host Dana Goldberg lives. According to the comic herself, she was raised by a wild pack of Jews known as her mother and two siblings. Dana is a force of nature on stage; seen on TBS, Logo, and Last Comic Standing, Goldberg has shared the stage with luminaries such as Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Katy Perry, Meryl Streep, and Carol Burnett, and has helped to raise more than $10 million for LGBTQ equality, women’s rights, and HIV/AIDS education and prevention. She was named one of the top three LGBT comedians in the country by The Advocate.
To help you all get to know her a bit before the brunch, we asked her five questions, because Four Questions are SOOO Passover.
When did you know you wanted to become a comic?
DG: When the sight of blood made me want to pass out, I knew the doctor thing wasn’t going to work, so it was my contingency plan. Truth be told, I knew early on in high school. I used to listen to old cassette tapes (I know I just lost the 30-and-under crowd) of comedians for hours. I auditioned for my high school talent show when I was 17 and won with a 10-minute stand-up routine. I didn’t really touch a stage again until I was 26. I graduated from college, got my degree in physical education — I’m a lesbian, it’s the law — and decided to give comedy a shot again in front of 650 people in a sold-out theater. The rest is history.
What role does your Jewish identity play in your comedy?
DG: Other than the fact that Jews are some of the funniest people on the planet??? I definitely interweave it into my routine. I don’t feel like my sexual orientation or my religious views define me, they are both a portion of what makes up Dana; I’m very proud of both of them and don’t shy away from talking a little about them in comedy. I like telling a few jokes about my family and mom. She’s a good sport for the most part. There was one show she wasn’t happy with. She came up to me and said “I don’t care about the sex jokes. I don’t care about the political jokes. Did you have to say I was 63 on stage?!”
When you were coming out, whose voices were the most supportive, and what did they say that made you feel loved and welcomed?
DG: My mother’s voice was definitely the most supportive. I have an older brother who is also gay and a straight sister
— my brother and I talk a lot about that and as long as she acts gay in public, we don’t have a problem with it. It’s not her fault, she was born that way. I was in tears when I came out to my mom. She stopped what she was doing and after a very short supportive conversation said “I love you, I don’t care who you sleep with, I have to go to work.” That was the end of it.
The most hilarious part of being Jewish and gay is… ________________.
DG: PLANNING A BRUNCH! We are in Los Angeles, so no one eats carbs, but what’s a Jewish brunch without bagels?!
What about JQ is most impressive to you? Why did you want to host? What are your comedy plans for us at the Brunch?
DG: Right now more than ever, the Jewish community as well as the LGBTQ community needs to stay visible and vocal. Since 2016, hate crimes against both of our communities have been on the rise. JQ provides support groups, safe spaces, educational materials, and reaches out to the most marginalized within the community. I believe that when it comes to the LGBTQ and Jewish communities, I have a duty to use my amplified voice to dispel hateful rhetoric, wherever it comes from.
As far as my comedy plans for the brunch….we’ll just have to see. Nothing is off limits as far as I’m concerned. Our communities have never been known to be quiet in the face of adversity so I hope to be a voice that echoes the incredible things this organization already does.
JQ Contributing Writer