Dana Goldberg is easily one of the top lesbian comedians on the scene, and lesbians just can’t seem to get enough of her. We met up with Dana at the Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs this year. Despite the raging, debaucherous party around us, we managed to find a quiet-ish spot to chat and Dana was kind enough to answer a few questions (as long as we kept the drinks flowing, anyway).
Okay, first, you have to know: she is totally hot. Like, in that “Woah! Your pictures don’t do you justice—am I sweating now? Yep, I’m totally sweating now” kind of way. Second, she is so much cooler than the cool you already knew she is. (See what I did there? Hot AND cool…get it?) Third, she is a total Vagabroad—hard to keep in one place for very long. So here we go.
How many Dinah’s have you attended? Do you think it’s changed over the years?
I think I’ve been to six Dinah’s? The first one was in 2008! I guess it’s my 10-year anniversary. Longest relationship I’ve ever had! I’ve performed at five of those six throughout the years. It’s definitely changed for me as I look at it through different eyes—eyes that now need glasses, it’s been so many years. It’s still the insane parties, outstanding entertainment, and weekend of making memories (some of which we would all like to forget). This last Dinah has been one of my favorites, due in large part to the incredible group of women I was hanging out with, yourself included, Sunny.
Your show last night was amazing. What is your pre-game ritual—especially after a long day of partying at the pool?
I had a really good time on stage that night. My pre-show ritual usually consists of me talking to myself out loud and pacing. I’m usually going over my joke transitions, but without fail, someone will walk backstage at that exact moment to see if I need anything. Then I just look like the crazy lady talking to myself. I didn’t use to drink AT ALL before or during shows, but I’ve realized through the years, as I’ve settled into my shows, I enjoy sipping on some good tequila while I make the masses laugh.
You performed in Nashville recently at the Lipstick Lounge. You had a heckler (whom you dealt with beautifully). How do you typically deal with audience members who just have to get in on the act? Do you have a “just in case” plan that you use, or do you just have to wing it when it happens?
Oy…I did have a blast that night. I love The Lipstick Lounge because it’s an intimate venue, but you can pack them in. The owners are also fantastic women. The problem with bar shows is what’s in a bar? Looooots of alcohol. I’m not kidding, my show was at 8 and there were women drinking by 6. So yeah, one of them decided she was going to have her 30 seconds of fame. You can imagine it didn’t go very well for her.
I was a bartender for 11 years. I know how to get control of a situation that’s getting out of hand because of alcohol without escalating it. I’m very good with crowd work, and I’m quick on my feet, so a drunk audience member will never be a match for a sober comedian. They just can’t keep up.
We would love to see you on the big screen – is that possibly on your to-do list?
You and me both, sister! I actually just started working with a manager who will be submitting me to TV and film auditions, so ladies (and gentlemen and the gender non-conforming) say a prayer, make a vision board, burn some sage. Let’s make this s#!t happen!
How did you get into comedy?
I think this is what I was always supposed to be doing in life. I did my first comedy set when I was 17. It was my high school talent show, and I won. I didn’t touch a stage for almost nine more years. I went to college, got my degree in physical education (I’m a lesbian, it’s the law), and then started bartending.
There was a show that use to come through Albuquerque, New Mexico, called Funny Lesbians For a Change. It was a big variety show that raised higher education scholarships for women in the community. They gave me a seven-minute set in front of 650 people in a sold out theater. I hit my first big joke and heard the most deafening laughter I had ever heard. I was hooked. The rest is history.
I think women who take the plunge with their dreams and go for it are the most inspiring, especially when we are so often told “no” or “you can’t”… What was that moment like for you, when you decided to commit to comedy fulltime?
There’s some good and bad to that moment for me. I had been bartending and doing comedy at the same time for years. I was afraid to “quit my day job” because I wasn’t sure if I could make enough money doing comedy full time. It’s a process and takes a long time to build a fan base to be able to sustain a good income.
I lost my dad in 2008, and that was kind of a wake-up call for me. He died pretty young considering (63), so I decided to take the chance, quit bartending and do comedy full time.
It’s amazing what happens when you open up your life to let what is supposed to be come in. I’ve been doing comedy since 2003, and fulltime for about 10 years now. It feels good to do what I love and make a living. I think the saying goes “do what you love and the money will follow.” I know that wasn’t written by a Jewish mother. We’re still getting over the fact that I’m not a doctor.
So, you’re a Jewish, liberal, lesbian from New Mexico with New Yorker roots. What is it like performing in the south?
I think you just wrote the beginning of my Tinder profile, if I ever need one. I actually LOVE performing in the south because I give people permission to laugh at things they don’t always give themselves permission to laugh at.
Even though I’m telling jokes about myself, the only way I can make someone laugh is if they see themselves in my material and experiences and can relate on some level. People in the south are just like everyone else in the county. We all have crazy families. We all have crazy relationships. There is always a way to bridge a gap in this country, you just have to be willing to find it.
The fact that Donald Trump blocked you on Twitter tells us a lot about who you are as a human being. Aside from that amazing factoid, who ARE you? How would your friends describe you?
I can’t with that man. He has nothing better to do than block people on Twitter? We as a country have never seen anything like this. I will be happy when he and his entire family are a distant memory. He is a despicable human being and has unearthed a horrifying population in this country.
That being said, I think my friends would describe me as kind [laughing]. I’m a very easy-going, fun-loving person most of the time. I’ve been a little more stressed out since November 9, 2016, but we’re making it through with a little (a lot) of day drinking. I’m definitely the therapist with my friends. I give sound advice and am loving and generous. I just don’t always follow said advice, but who does? They would also say I’m an excellent dancer.
If you were to describe yourself as a force of nature what would it be and why?
I would probably describe myself as an earthquake. I like to shake things up a bit, put some cracks in people’s foundations, make them think. Not like the Northridge earthquake or anything like that. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want some confusion, like, “Was that an earthquake or just really good sex?” Know what I mean?
What are your current projects and where can people find you?
I’ve been recording a web series called “Out In Left Field.” You can find that on Advocate.com. I sometimes do quick videos, but there are longer interviews with some incredible people from the LGBTQ community as well. I’m touring all over the country doing stand-up, and I’m also hosting and doing live auctions for major black tie galas and awards shows around the country for organizations I believe in and support, like The Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, GLAAD, and Equality California.