“I enjoy doing comedy, but the world of standup is kind of gross to handle at times. It’s sort of filled with a lot of chauvinistic straight white men,” comedian Lindy Zucker said.
She spoke to The CJN by phone the morning after her appearance in the all-female, all-queer World Pride comedy show Leave it to Beavers on June 26.
In it, Zucker, 39, cracked jokes about having a girlfriend versus being single at Pride, the store Wine Rack and “vajazzling.”
Held at Comedy Bar, the show was presented by Gold Star Comedy, LGBTQ Jews (a subsidiary of Hillel Toronto) and Jewish LGBTQ social, cultural and educational group Kulanu Toronto. It featured 10 comics, including U.S. headliners Janine Brito and DeAnne Smith.
Mostly a theatre actress, she has been doing standup on and off for about three years, typically at open mics and other Pride showcases, but explained she doesn’t “gig every night,” partly because she’s wary of what she characterizes as a less-than-welcoming mainstream, male-dominated standup scene.
“There can be rooms that invite hecklers, as opposed to an audience that’s coming for a good time,” she said.
“At a queer all-girl show, though, it’s amazing. Backstage, everyone is really friendly and open… From what I’ve seen, there’s a lot of camaraderie. And the audience is usually pretty warm and exuberant… last night’s show was a dream room. Even if the crowd didn’t like your jokes, they were still present and having a good time.”
Zucker works as a project co-ordinator at a digital production company by day, and previously starred in a web series called B.J. Fletcher: Private Eye, a zany action comedy about a female investigative duo.
Having grown up in “good old Thornhill,” Zucker attended the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, though she didn’t come out until after high school.
“I felt different at CHAT, but it was more because most people were wealthy and I lived in a co-op off Chabad Gate. That felt weirder to me than being queer.”
Zucker said being openly gay and Jewish hasn’t been particularly difficult. Her family has always been accepting (“They have more of a problem with my tattoos than the fact I’m a lesbian”) and she isn’t involved in traditional elements of the community.
Still, Zucker’s Jewish identity has clearly played a role in shaping both her outlook and her sense of humour.
“My Jewish dysfunctional family has definitely contributed to my skewed version of looking at things. They’re very sarcastic, very crazy, very eastern European… we were always either laughing or yelling over matzah ball soup.”