Danielle Brody (DB): You’re known as a Jewish comedian. Did you start with Jewish material when you began your comedy career?
Note: This interview took place in November, 2022.
Elon Gold (EG): I started out just doing impressions, I was almost too scared to be me on stage. It’s much easier to hide behind someone else’s persona. I would just do impressions for almost 10 years.
Then it took another, I would say, another 15 years just to find my voice. So it’s been nice the the last five to 10 years I finally found my voice and figured out my point of view.
Modi and I talk about this on his podcast. We’re not just comedians who are Jewish like Seinfeld or Howie Mandel or Billy Crystal. We are Jewish comedians, like we go deep, and it’s the majority of our material. Whereas those guys will mention it in passing or they’ll do one bit about it — it’s our persona and it’s the majority of what we’re talking about.
I remember my friend Neal Brennan who co-created the Chappelle Show with Dave said to me: ‘Write about what you care about in your standup.’ And what do I care about? I care about Jews, I care about my people, my children, my wife.
DB: How did you get into comedy?
EG: I’m from the Bronx. I started just being the class comedian. And then I started at the Comic Strip at open mic night one night. Everyone was bombing, badly, and I turned to my older brother and I said, ‘If I do this poorly I’m never doing this again.’
I wound up having beginner’s luck because I was doing impressions. I just started killing right away, and I was hooked. The second you kill once, that’s it.
And then I went to college at Boston University and I started doing all the clubs in colleges in the Northeast going up and down the coast. Graduated college, stayed in New York for a while, then moved to LA.
There’s so many highlights — my first ‘Tonight Show’ with Jay Leno, my first pilot that I did, my first time starring in a sitcom. There are so many stepping stones in show busines. You’re always climbing.
You’re sort of wired to be a comedian. You have this calling, you know when you’re a kid, that you’re not just funny. … I knew I was professionally funny, I knew I could write a joke, do an impression, a dialect, stand on stage and perform. And you know it.
Overall it’s the best thing in the world to be a comedian and I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.
DB: You’ve made jokes about antisemitism. How does comedy combat hate?
EG: I think finding your voice is so important and a lot of comedy is talking about what bothers you. And what’s bothered me over the last few years more than anything — more than being married — is antisemitism. So I’ve been doing a lot of bits — it’s our only weapon. It’s like what Mel Brooks said — our only weapon as comedians to fight hatred and bigotry is with jokes and mockery. So I love to find the funny in hate.
I find the funny in hate because when you find the funny in hate you get to expose the ignorance of bigotry — and that to me, that is so fun.
When you can hold up a mirror to these racist, antisemitc dumb-dumbs and you get to go, ‘Look how stupid you look,’ and maybe it doesn’t change their views or their opinions, but maybe it moves the needle a little bit for them. Maybe it makes them second guess, ‘Why do I hate anyone?’
One of my new jokes is all of the BS out there about the Jews controlling Hollywood, the media — we can’t even control our bowels.
We can’t be running Hollywood, we’re too busy running to a bathroom. Am I right, folks?
DB: You created the Chosen Comedy Festival with Stand Up NY and Modi in August in New York. What made this show so meaningful to the audience?
EG: Timing is everything and and we didn’t plan on doing Chosen as a response to this rising tide in antisemitism, but gee it works out nicely to have something that’s positive and happy and will bring people laughter and enjoyment instead of fear and feeling nervous and scared and a feeling of insecurity and unhappiness.
The timing that we’re now on tour with this comedy festival that celebrates Judaism and Jewish comedy and Jewish comedians — it really is a celebration of all things Jewish — and we need that now more than ever. And we need to laugh and we need to laugh about even something as serious as antisemitism, because we spend enough time worrying about it.
Now here let’s take a night to laugh about it because it is worrisome and it is dead serious. But it’s our job to again find the funny in it, find the funny in hate.
The first time we did it, it was so magical from start to finish. The vibe in the air, there was this feeling and this sense of community and just fun.
The 4,000 in attendance, we all felt like — hey something is happening here that is unique and really it’s a positive energy, and more than anything is so fun — I mean from the musical acts — before we even hit the stage there was an energy. The place was pulsating.
DB: The Chosen Comedy Fest is coming to Miami on December 14. What can people expect?
EG: It’ll be a similar format with Modi and I hosting. We’re going to do some local stuff that’s just for Miami. They can expect jokes that pertain to them.
I’ll write some new things that day and the day before and do some of the stuff I’ve been working on. Also life happens and things politically happen — Trump’s running again, I’m sure that will come up. BB is back in Israel. I’m always changing and adapting my act to the times.
I’m so glad it’s a different lineup than Brooklyn because I’m also a fan of comedy and I get to watch these guys from the side of the stage so everyone that wasn’t there [in Brooklyn] — Rich Vos, Judy Gold, Rachel Feinstein, these are amazing comedians. It’s a pretty sick lineup you just can’t get this anywhere else.
And then Matisyahu and Nissim Black. It’s so fun to mix music and comedy — the music just really gets the audience pumping. It’s much easier for us to follow these great artists who will just get the crowd going.
Don’t miss this. If you live in Miami and you’re Jewish and you miss this, you’re just going to hear about it and you’re going to regret it.
It’s this in-the-moment thing. If you miss it, it’s gone. You can’t recreate it. That’s why it’s so important to go to this thing.
DB: What else are you working on?
EG: I have a new half-hour special that’s going to come out soon. It doesn’t have a home yet, but I just finished editing it and I’m very excited about this new half-hour special. And then I’m working on my next hour and developing a TV show.
Danielle Brody is a Jewish writer, marketer, and artist living in New York City.
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