Veteran comedian Elon Gold, whose credits include 10 appearances on “The Tonight Show”, as well as such TV shows as “Frasier”, “Bones”, “In-Laws” and a recent Netflix stand-up special called “Chosen and Taken”, is proud of being Jewish, and his connection to Jewish communities across North America. In fact, that sense of pride has prompted Gold to deem himself as a “go-to Jew”.
“That’s right, I’m a ‘go-to Jew’. If a community group or organization needs a Jew to perform at their event, they call me,” said Gold during a recent phone interview. “I love performing for my people. It gives me a deeper connection that I don’t get with other audiences.”
And utilizing his talents as a stand-up comedian that creates that aforementioned strong sense of connection with the North American Jewish community as a whole was recently exemplified with appearances in front of 15,000 people at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conference in Washington, D.C. (which will be the subject of a future stand-up special) and in front of an audience at a United Nations conference.
An observant Jew, Gold further reinforced his faith and his ties to Israel and his Jewish identity three years ago, thanks to a harrowing incident that he and his family experienced near his home in L.A. While walking home from a Friday night Shabbat dinner with his wife and daughters, they were verbally accosted by a group of young men who happened to be driving by, and threatened his daughters with death as “revenge” for Israel killing innocent Palestinian children. The incident, and his strong reflections on Judaism and Israel, were recounted in vivid detail in an op-ed piece he wrote that appeared in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles shortly after the incident occurred; it later went viral and has been seen by over a million readers ever since.
With that in mind, Gold has decided to mark his 11th appearance at Just For Laughs since 1993 with a brand new solo show called “Elon Gold: Pro-Semite”, which will run at the Maison Theatre on Ontario Street East from July 24 to 27.
“I do have a warning for anyone who goes to my show: some material may not be suitable for Gentiles,” he jokingly suggested.
“This show is going to go very deep. It will touch on many subjects, such as the Jewish people and their struggles, Israel, and even my own personal hate incident. And the reason I decided to title it ‘Pro-Semite’ is that there is too much anti-Semitism in the world today, and I wondered where are those pro-Semites out there? I am going to approach those topics and many more the best way I know how to get to the point, and that is through jokes,” he added.
Gold believes that he is continuing the tradition that Jewish comics followed during the 1950s and 1960s, in which such legendary comics like Allan Sherman, Allan King and many who graduated from the clubs and hotels of New York’s famed “Borscht Belt” of the Catskill Mountains region, overtly used their Jewish background and culture in their comedy routines to appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. However, Gold got an interesting lesson from fellow comedian Chris Rock on how to gain mass appeal as a comic.
“When Rock released his first album, he called it ‘Bigger and Blacker’ and was in touch with his background before he really hit it big. And he once told me that to succeed as a comedian, you have to get your own people behind you before you crossover towards getting mass appeal,” he said.
With his sterling reputation as comedy’s “go-to Jew” and an impressive list of writing and acting credentials (which also included stints on “The Mentalist” and “Chappelle’s Show”), Gold is succeeding with his people and mass audiences everywhere. And yet he never forgets his Jewish roots and heritage, continuing to perform at Jewish community fundraisers and special events, and making annual visits to Israel, where he recently completed work on a web series that will be released within the next couple of months.
“It’s called ‘Bar Mitzvah’. I play a gay Jewish father who sends his son to Israel for his bar mitzvah, hoping that he will follow in his father’s footsteps. However, the son falls in love with the tour guide’s daughter, which causes me to freak out,” said Gold.
Gold is confident that his show “Pro-Semite” will attract large audiences during its run at Just For Laughs, both Jewish and non-Jewish. However, he has a back-up strategy to fill those seats at Maison Theatre, especially with members of the Montreal Jewish community.
“I’ll just say that the show is already sold out. This will make those potential Jewish audience members quite nervous and angry that they didn’t buy their tickets beforehand. It will inspire them to rush out and purchase tickets before the show is actually sold out,” he jokingly said (with a great deal of chutzpah).
For more information – or to purchase tickets for “Elon Gold: Pro-Semite” or any other Just For Laughs show – go to www.hahaha.com