By Belinda Carroll
Dana Goldberg has long been an inspiration of mine. When I was a wee baby comic in Austin, Texas, I, along with my merry band of comics (Holly Lorka and Allie Rolison), tried to attend every Dana Goldberg show. She’s been named one of the top lesbian comics around by Curve Magazine, has her own LOGO special, and produces Southwest FunnyFest — a comedy festival that also raises money for HIV/AIDS research. On top of this, she works with HRC while touring the country relentlessly. I often wonder when she sleeps.
Now, she’s coming to Portland. We have worked together several times, and I always love every minute. I recently got to sit down and have a chat with her, comic-to-comic — we talked stand-up comedy, activism, and how she keeps her hair from looking like a “Good Luck Troll Doll.”
Belinda Carroll: The first time we met was in Austin, Texas. Do you remember? It was that crappy gig on the rooftop bar, with that opener who had never done comedy.
Dana Goldberg: I do remember that night. I felt like I was giving a speech to the cavalry. We were like forty feet above the audience. I think I got a nose bleed during that show from the altitude.
BC: I was about 4 months into comedy and said, “Someday I will work with her!” Who do you dream of opening for?
DG: I know you give me a hard time about this, but I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times. I want to work with Wanda Sykes. It’s rare that a comic makes me buckle over with laughter. She does.
BC: I want you to work with Wanda so I can meet her. How do you keep your hair both curly and non-frizzy? Did you sell your soul to the devil?
DG: If by the devil you mean a blow dryer and a diffuser ? Then yes. I usually use some kind of curl cream and then diffuse it. If I let it dry naturally it’s horrible…like Good Luck Troll Horrible. I got lucky with my Jew-fro. It’s pretty manageable most days.
BC: If you could have anyone on speed dial to give you advice about anything, who would it be and why?
DG: See, now that’s a great question. I would have myself in 40 years on speed dial. That way I could be giving advice to myself like “take that gig, ask for more money, run that extra mile, don’t eat that, don’t date her (those last two weren’t related to each other).”
BC: I know you’ve done TV on occasion, what’s one gig you’d love to land either writing or acting?
DG: I would love to have a recurring role on “Modern Family.” I think the writing is incredible. I also wouldn’t mind a couple of guest appearances on “Orange Is the New Black.” I could totally make someone my prison bitch. And I almost kept a straight face when I said that.
BC: You’ve done a lot of work for the LGBTQ community over the years. One thing I recall is the LA to SF ride to raise money for HIV/AIDS — mostly because I’m horribly lazy, so it’s like you flew over buildings and fought crime. What’s your favorite project ever?
DG: The AIDS ride was amazing. It’s a long time on a bike though. Took a little while for the lady parts to recover. I do a ton of work with the Human Rights Campaign. I think some of those dinners have been my favorite moments as an “activist.” I get to share the stage with some incredible people. Of course, I’m also a little biased toward the Southwest FunnyFest Show that I produce in Albuquerque every year. It’s raised over $20,000 for New Mexico AIDS Services — the local AIDS foundation in my hometown.
It’s interesting, Belinda, because I have these incredible moments at each function where someone comes up to me and tells me what a horrible time they are going through, how they have had a horrible week, and I made them laugh for the first time in a long time. It’s all worth it in that moment. All of it.
BC: You’re incredibly optimistic and positive. How do you maintain that attitude in a cynical business?
DG: I drink a lot. (I’m kidding.) Maybe that’s how I do keep a positive attitude — I barely drink.
But I love that you said that. This is the thing — I’m doing what I love and making a living doing it. It doesn’t have to be hard. Sometimes it’s tiring to continue to find the internal motivation to keep the hustle and keep creating work. It’s not like we have a 9 to 5 and we get a paycheck every two weeks. Our success depends on everything we do and everything we don’t do. People make life harder than it needs to be. I get paid to make people laugh for fuck’s sake. How could I possibly get cynical about that?
BC: Where do you see yourself in 40 years?
DG: Well, the large amount of grey hair I have will probably have completely taken over. I will have most likely lost a half an inch in height by then, but hopefully I still have all my teeth. One thing I love about our industry is that we don’t often “age out” like some actresses do. Comedy is constant evolution — and with life experience comes more material. I plan on doing this until I no longer find joy in it. I imagine by then, I’ll be a writer on some show that you don’t actually watch on TV, it just shows up as a hologram in your living room. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I won’t ever stop performing live. It’s my drug of choice and I have no intentions of interventions or recovery.
BC: When are you taking me on the road with you?
DG: As soon as I make enough money to pay us both.
Dana plays the Funhouse Lounge Friday, November 22 at 7:30pm. Ms. Carroll opens. Get tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/501755