judy gold

By Eileen Katz

Judy Gold describes herself as a comedian, actor, writer, host and big mouth. She has written and starred in two critically acclaimed Off-Broadway hit shows and her TV appearances include Comedy Central’s “Broad City”, “Louie”, “30 Rock”, “2 Broke Girls”, and numerous other special appearances. She has won the GLAAD Award, a Drama Desk Award and two Emmy Awards. Judy has lived on the Upper West Side since 1984 but if you haven’t run in to her yet at Barney Greengrass on Amsterdam and 87th (a favorite) you can catch her performing live at Feinstein’s/54 Below March 11, 12 and 18, 2016.

Why the West Side, Judy?

I’ve lived up here since 1984. Thirty-two years. My mother grew up here and her entire family lived here. I always wanted to live here. She was born in 1922 and she used to go to after school at Ansche Chesed and sit in the boy’s Hebrew school class. It was 30 boys and 1 girl. It was not a Yentl thing, she just loved it. Loved it. She didn’t get Bat Mitzvah’d but they did something special for her, because you know, then women didn’t get Bat Mitzvah’d. But on Shavuot they did something special for her because her name was Ruth. But I used to hear so many funny stories about her aunts, who lived in the El Dorado. Like, one Yom Kippur she stopped by before services and walked in and they were all eating bacon. And she was like the Jew police and they were trying to cover it up by putting on the fans and opening up the windows. So it felt like a neighborhood to me even before I moved here.

What has made you stay up here over time?

It’s about my building. I don’t have a lot of space, I only have one bathroom, but it’s really like a kibbutz. It’s like family. The Godparents of the kids live down the hall, it’s one big family, it really is like a village. We all had dinner during the last snowstorm, we have Thanksgiving together, we’ve had parties where we apartment-hop. It’s a pretty amazing place.

What’s the best part of living up here?

I love the Upper West Side. It’s so convenient, I’m right by the express train. I think Riverside Park and Central Park. I have two parks! Who else has two parks?!?

You’ve skipped ahead to another question: Riverside or Central?

You can’t make me choose! I love both.

Any particular favorite parts of either park?

There’s the part of Riverside Park where you walk in between 92nd and 93rd where there’s this one area where we used to play baseball all the time. One tree was home base and we would always pick up kids in the park and just play baseball and I really do miss that. And you know, we’d play basketball in all the schoolyards until my son was like: “Alright, Mommy, you’re not playing anymore. Ok? You can watch, but you’re not playing anymore.” The courts in Riverside are incredible too.

And worst parts of living up here?

Seeing the Mom & Pop landmarks go. I mean it’s sad. It’s heartbreaking. I could live without a Duane Reed and a bank or CVS on every f#%king corner. It’s the death of the family-owned businesses, and losing the personality. It was such a melting pot.

What are some of your favorite places to go up here?

Zabar’s, because Al behind the counter is my boyfriend. I love going to Zabar’s. I love Gennaro’s, Little Italy Pizza on 92nd. Oh my god – the pizza is so amazing and the guys who own it are so nice, so nice. Real neighborhood guys. And they stayed open during the snow storm! Peter’s Pharmacy – okay, how many times can you call a pharmacy in your life and you go: “Hi I’d like to refill a prescription” and they go: “Judy?” It’s incredible. Barney. You can’t beat Barney. Telepan, Pio Pio and the truck on 93rd and Broadway. Best egg/cheese/turkey bacon sandwich around. I love Gotham Liquors – not that I’m an alcoholic, but they are very knowledgeable. Fairway, c’mon. Gotta love it, except that it is the place where I think I would most likely commit murder. But you can’t live without Fairway. The Beacon Theater, I could go on and on and on.

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened since you’ve been living here?

Well, 9/11 was the strangest thing ever, but there was a girl who used to practice her flute in her car for an hour and a half during alternate side parking. She moved. I miss seeing her.

What’s the most quintessential Upper West Side experience you’ve ever had?

Ok, you know Strachman’s Blinds on 92nd Street? So they come really early in the morning and get really good parking spots. And if I have my car in the city, I’ll call them and ask: “So what time do you guys think you’ll be moving your car?” and they literally, I can’t tell you how many times, will call me and say: “Judy! Get downstairs now! He’s going to leave in 2 seconds!” And I get my spot and I love them. You can really count on these people.

If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have one thing from Zabars, what would it be?

I would have to go with the…on an Island it’s hot, so maybe not the herring in cream sauce..I’m going to have to go with the freshly baked rugelach. I mean, I can’t even…it’s like crack.

When they finally declare “Judy Gold Day” on the Upper West Side, how would you like people to celebrate?

I think they should have a picnic. I do love a picnic. I’m thinking a picnic in either park. It would involve bagels and cream cheese and nova and fresh tomatoes. Oh! And I do ride my bike everywhere. I have four saddle bags: 2 on my body that is, and 2 on my bike that I can carry 4 bags of groceries in. So it would involve a bike ride maybe to the picnic.

What makes someone an Upper West Sider?

Not washing their hair everyday.

You know those TMZ bus tours they have? What would the Judy Gold tour be?

Stops would have to include – The JCC, Equinox (either 92nd or 76th), Delta, PS 87 (that’s where my kids went), definitely go to Zabar’s. I’d go to Fairway. The loops. The many loops in Central Park. I ran the marathon and know every loop there. Riverside of course, there are a bunch of baseball and soccer fields that I spent so many 20 below f#%king mornings at. Oh! They would have to go get empanadas in Riverside as you’re going to the fields by 100th street. There’s a person who sells them from a cart there and they are sooo f#%king good. They’d have to stop at Peter’s Pharmacy so they could see how many drugs I take. Probably Gabriella’s, my doctor on 72nd. Oh, they would have to stop at City MD. I’m there all the time. And City Diner and then Manhattan Diner – Jennifer’s my favorite waitress at Manhattan Diner. The Dry Cleaner on 82nd. It used to be called Spot Cleaner. It’s going to be a big tour. B’nai Jeshrun. And Duh Stand Up New York! I won the “Funniest Secretary In New York” contest the year they opened. I had done stand up before, but I was working as a secretary. And the owner was like: “Who ever wins gets a t-shirt and gets to play a weekend here.” I win and he’s like: “Sorry. We’re out of t-shirts.” So Stand-Up New York. Oh, they’d have to stop at West Side Judaica for sure. It’s just so nice to know everybody in your f#%king neighborhood.

Read the other installments in Why the West Side? here.

NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Joe Rappaport says:

      Great interview! Thanks!

    2. Justin says:

      She is awesome — and so it this column!

    3. Mark says:

      Love love love Judy Gold!!!!!

    4. Rachel G. says:

      love this column. This describes my UWS perfectly.

    5. Jo Z says:

      Love judys west side highlights and loving this column!

    6. Liza Persky says:

      Love you Judy Gold.

    7. Yugo says:

      What a vulgar, foul-mouthed woman. One has to wonder whether she was paid for each and every time she used the fornication expletive.

    8. anonymous says:

      guess I need to google Judy Gold. I think I recognize her from the Louis CK show but need to watch a clip to remember who she was on it.

    9. Mark says:

      I’m guessing because she’s incredibly funny.
      Some people have talent, and some people are you.

    10. upper west side says:

      what a cliché….

    11. weside says:

      Yea,shout out to CityMD.huh? What a shill.

    12. Anon says:

      Replies are going where they belong! Thanks WSR.

    13. Anon says:

      It worked for Lynn why not me?

    14. Margaret says:

      Very nice! Love the shout outs for Peter’s Pharmacy.

    15. TOM FROM NYC says:

      I ♥ JUDY GOLD

    16. Sean says:

      Judy Gold is da bomb.

    17. Cyrus says:

      I have no idea who Judy Gold is, but she is a TRUE Upper West Sider.

      Well done!