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Gold in Them Thar 'Burbs
Here's a headline not for the Wall Street weak: "Gold Soars; Dullards Devalued."
Such is the result of the riches afforded by former economics major Elon Gold, whose stock in supersmart, smack-in-the-face funny is a funny bones bailout for these unbankable times.
As a stand-up comedian, he also stands up for the joys of Judaism, which, suffice it to say, suffuse his latest act, "Half Jewish/Half Very Jewish," a special K diet of comedy he brings to the Keswick Theatre www.keswicktheatre.com in Glenside on Jan. 31.
Serial Jew? Forever, he maintains.
Didja hear the one about the Shomer Shabbat comic who goes into a network series and has them change the schedule so that he doesn't have to shoot on Friday nights?
What's wrong with Friday nights, they wanted to know? Everything's right with it, he responded -- but not for working.
It works for Gold, the 39-year-old sitcom star -- okay, he had to sit shivah for two of them -- who's been a kashrut comic since first mixing jokes and Judaism -- in a pareve punchline way -- some 22 years ago at New York's Comic Strip.
You're the one, shouted Boston Herald headlines when he stormed the stage two years later; of course, four years after that, "You're the One," his 1998 comedy about a mixed marriage, wasn't the one to deliver.
But "In-Laws," Gold's 2002 effort for the WB, helped etch his outlaw image -- in the series, his character wanted to be a chef, in a family where his meat-and-potatoes father-in-law steamed inside that his daughter had married a souffle.
While "In-Laws" was outta there relatively quick, it helped set up the quick-wit Gold has been known for for years on stage, where he juices his act Jewishly.
Potty humor? Not him, but ... "My zaydi was so religious, he had two toilets ... one for meat, one for milk."
Stack 'em up; the former "Stacked" star, opposite Pamela Anderson, had them eating out of his Jewish knapsack at the recent Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.
One of a kind, he's inimitable -- yet, his imitations are often right on target. Hey, Mistah, ever see his Jackie Mason?
"I've run into him a few times, but I've yet to tell him I do him," says Gold.
"You know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of mockery."
It's a Mach 1 act; all engines fired up. Yet, he wants one to know, he may do Jackie Mason, but he isn't Jackie Mason: "The difference between me and Jackie Mason is that he's one of the best; I'm working on being pretty good."
Pretty good self-description: "The Jewish Jerry Seinfeld," which, in four words, demonstrates that Gold's extremely proud to talk about his background.
Not that there's anything wrong with that; indeed, much good has come Gold's way. "I go deep into the nitty gritty of Jewish life," says the observant observational Jewish comedian, whose yeshiva education taught him to cover his head while the business end of jokes helped him cover his tuches.
Which is why, he explains, he has two different acts. "My secular act is quite different," he says. "My Jewish act surpasses my secular act."
Act One: A comedian goes into a bar and asks, "Where's the beer?" Act Two: A comedian goes into a Bar and asks, "Where's the mitzvah?"
While that's not part of his act, it doesn't take an ice sculpture to show how he chills for two different audiences.
"There's an extra special connection with a Jewish audience," he maintains. "And this show is the culmination of a decade of doing Jewish shows."
"Half Jewish/Half Very Jewish" is a multimedia show, he explains, with a screen saver: "There's this huge screen behind me, close-captioned for the Hebrew-impaired."
You don't have to be a mentalist to know what's in his head -- although Gold's role as an instructor in the wiles of winning women was one of the comic highlights of TV's "The Mentalist" earlier this season.
"The joke, of course, was that he wasn't a suave guy," says the happily married father of four. "What they were looking for was a nebbish pick-up artist."
And they picked him. "Nebbishe," he says with a smile in his voice, "I can do."
He has to do the best to win over a Jewish crowd, he knows: "Jewish audiences are the toughest," says the comedian. "You can't coast."
He's worked coast to coast, has done Leno, Howard Stern, movies. He reels 'em in, especially with his gefilte fish out of water humor: "The difference between gefilte fish and sushi is that you don't have to be Japanese to like sushi."
But to like gefilte fish? "You have to have direct lineage from Moses."
Carpe diem, he says of seizing the punchline by the carp. But what happens when it all misses, and the joke is on ... him. "Jewish audiences will not boo you," he says. "They will sit quietly and hate you."
Where's the love? All over the road and in clubs. Gold's humor comes in an economy of words; so did his early career plans. Well, actually, he notes, he studied economics "to keep my parents happy ... and quiet."
The big laughs he drew in clubs drowned out that notion. And his personal fiscal mutual fund was mutually assured.
"Very early on, I started doing well," he remembers of those vroom-vroom-days when he owned the road. "I bought a Lexus when I was 20!"
Did Hollywood buy into his observant lifestyle when he tried to broach the industry for that first break? Nobody would break his resolve -- not that they wanted to. The industry has been somewhat accommodating, he offers.
It's not exactly like there's a minyan of kosher comedians on call.
"There are very few of us," he says of observant performers, a "mod squad" of Modern Orthodox comedians. "It's like our own havurah."
Okay, there's no rah-rah section cheering them on out Hollywood way. "But they respect it."
And Gold attests to the wonder of Shabbat, "where I don't have to go out and do stand-up, where I can have a nice long dinner with my family, where, for a single night, I put a break" on material concerns.
Some friends express concern for him: "I have a lot of non-Jewish buddies, and non-religious Jewish buddies, who feel bad for me."
Half-Jewish, half very Jewish: The whole is greater than its parts, on and off stage.
"Well," reasons Gold, "I feel bad for anyone who doesn't get it."