“I can’t f—ing believe these motherf—ers.” Judy Gold doesn’t mince word talking about the White House. The comedian and I are talking about the new documentary “The Last Laugh,” which looks at jokes about the Holocaust, from Charles Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” through “The Producers” through “Curb Your Enthusiasm” through numerous Sarah Silverman bits. Gold is one of many comics who weighs in on joking about Nazis and other deeply funny topics, in august company with the likes of Mel Brooks, Gilbert Gottfried and Susie Essman.
But we can’t help talking about another obscenity: what’s going on in America. Gold has been livid about the current administration (especially on her Twitter feed), and during our chat about finding humor amongst unspeakable horrors, Trump and his cronies couldn’t help but come up.
I watched “The Last Laugh” twice. The first time was a year ago, when it played the Tribeca Film Festival. Back then we had no idea the Nazis were going to come back into the mainstream.
I don’t think they ever left. They just didn’t have this platform. Now they have a platform.
They lurked in the Breitbart commenters sections, where we could laugh at how powerless they were.
Now Breitbart’s running the White House. Talk about fake news, you know?
There’s been debates about, “Is it OK to laugh at Richard Spencer being punched in his stupid face?” I’m not a violent person, so I can’t condone it. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bring me great, great joy.
Oh no, he deserves to be punched in the face. That punch is nowhere near as violent as his words.
Since this film premiered a year ago, another thing that’s changed is the role of comedians. Even moreso than before, we almost look upon them as the saviors, the people who will tell us the truth those in power won’t, in the most entertaining and cathartic way possible.
We can call people on their s—. We’re fearless. Most comedians are fearless. To get up and say stuff that people normally wouldn’t say. We’ve been through a lot. Humor is also disarming, and it trumps — I hate that word now — it trumps everything. You see someone getting a laugh at a table in a restaurant or out at a bar, it’s like their feathers are puffed up. I remember being on the road with comedians. Most of the time I was the only woman. You’d see guys after the show — they could be wearing sweatpants and not bathed, and they’d have women all over them. And I’d be like, “Uh, can I get a ride home?” It’s unbelievable what funny can do.
And it’s a coping mechanism. But Trump and them, they have no sense of humor. You look at Jeff Sessions: What do you think he laughs at? He probably laughs at, “Oh, look, they’re beating up that immigrant over in the corner,” or whatever. I don’t know what the f— they laugh at. They just take themselves so seriously. I mean, Donald Trump’s not funny. Now he won’t go to the Correspondents’ Dinner, because he couldn’t make a joke about himself if Putin paid him.
Someone smarter than me once said humor is a sign of intelligence.
It’s looking at something from a different perspective. If you’re a comedian and you talk about the Holocaust, you talk about 9/11, you talk about any horrible tragedy, your brain immediately goes to the joke. It’s the way we think. And when you’re telling a joke about a tragedy or something horrible, it’s got to be a decent joke. You can’t write a s—ty joke about the biggest tragedy in the world.
Humor is really difficult to explain. Often times people are too literal.
My girlfriend is very literal. I’ll say something that’s obviously sarcastic, and she’ll say, “Really?!” I’ll say, “NO! We’ve been together for 10 years, you don’t know me?” Comics talk to one another completely differently than they talk to other people. We’ll say things to one another we would never tell people who aren’t comedians.