Stand Up Comedian
How did you come to do what you do?
After college, I was working for an accounting firm and started doing comedy at night and wanted to make it more legitimate. I didn’t want it to just be a hobby, so I kept going to different open mic shows and amateur nights. For the most part, I was not getting paid but stuck with it. After 18-19 months, I quit the accounting firm and got other jobs that provided me more flexibility and allowed me to have some money – waiter/substitute teacher/doorman at a bar or restaurant (low profile jobs that didn’t pay much but gave me the time to do the shows)
How does Judaism influence your comedy style?
I take certain facts regarding Judaism and certain knowledge of Judaism and infuse them into the show. I have some jokes about being Jewish and am comfortable being talked about as a Jew. But I never make it the butt of the joke and never belittle Judaism or insult it. As an example, I’ve told a story about a friend who was trying to tell me about a documentary she watched, about Hitler and his…shenanigans, because she couldn’t think of the word atrocities. I talk about being Jewish and the way I was raised and how I always wanted Christmas. My mother was set against celebrating anything Christmas-oriented in case her mother would come for a surprise visit, which was ridiculous because she couldn’t drive.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday or tradition?
Passover was always fun – the Seder at the house growing up. Having the meal and going through the rituals of the Seder. I enjoyed Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur from the perspective of going to Temple and seeing how seriously everyone took it and all the tradition in the High Holidays, but Pesach is my favorite.
Favorite food that you associate with Judaism?
Matzah Balls. There are other things people make with matzah that I also enjoy, like matzah brei.
Earliest memory of being Jewish?
When I was 5 and all the Jewish kids would stay after kindergarten and learn about being Jewish for the Holidays. It was how I first understood that I was Jewish and different and had this uniqueness about me.
How do you incorporate Judaism into your daily life?
I see myself as such a Jewish person and it’s a part of my identity, but I don’t celebrate Shabbat or eat kosher. It’s just who I am. I try to uphold the traditions I can, but I’m not very observant.
What’s the most surprising thing about life on tour, or that a fan has done?
I drove home from a show an hour and a half away. I was staying at my mom’s on NYE and two young women followed me the whole way home, supposedly because one of my shoes fell off the top of my car so they brought the shoe back. I asked why they didn’t just flash the brights to make me stop and they actually said they didn’t want to frighten me. This, to them, was the less creepy option. I’m always surprised that there are people who wait a long time, sometimes hours, after the show to meet me and to me that’s really beyond what I think I deserve. I’m always flattered by that.
Gary Gulman’s Netflix special, “It’s About Time”, is out now, and laugh-out- loud funny. We also highly recommend checking when he’s coming to a town near you.