By Tamara Juarez, June 2017 Web Exclusive.
For the past 12 years, Bisbee has observed LGBT Pride Month with a city-wide celebration that’s open to everyone. And, heading into its 13th annual Pride weekend, the tightly knit and quite eccentric southern Arizona community is prepping for what could easily be its most impressive weekend of festivities to date. (For more on Bisbee Pride, click here.)
This year, comedienne Dana Goldberg will perform alongside comedian Sampson McCormick and Phoenix-based queercore comedic rock band The Pübes during the “LOL – Laugh Out Loud” feature event at 7:30 p.m. June 17.
Echo Magazine caught up with Goldberg ahead of her appearance at Bisbee Pride and here’s what she had to say.
Echo: Have you performed in Phoenix or Bisbee before?
Goldberg: I performed in Phoenix a couple of years ago. It was a sold out show at Stacy’s @ Melrose. It was wonderful, but I have not been to Bisbee or attended Bisbee Pride, so I’m really excited to get down there.
Echo: What are you most excited about?
Goldberg: I’m most excited about the fact that the show is inside. [Laughs] I’m sort of kidding, but I am happy that I’ll be in an air-conditioned room in Arizona in the middle of June.
Echo: What have you been up to this year?
Goldberg: This is actually my first pride of the year. I’ve been traveling all over the country doing fundraisers and comedy shows – raising a lot of money for LGBTQ+ equality – but this will be my first pride of the season, so I feel like I get to let lose. I’m glad it’ll get to be Bisbee.
Echo: What do these events mean to you and why do you continue to participate in them?
Goldberg: The pride events are really important, especially in this political climate that we’re going through. I feel like a lot of things are unknown, and as we’ve seen in the first 100 days of this new administration, our rights may or may not be protected. Our trans bothers and sisters may not be able to choose what bathrooms they identify with, and I think prides are a way for us to stay visible and have a good time. We’ve been through a lot and made huge strides over the past eight years with the Obama administration, so our job now is to continue to fight and keep moving forward no matter who’s in the White House.
Echo: Being a comedian, how do you work around this political climate? How you do continue doing what you love?
Goldberg: Well, shit. I don’t work around it, I go right into it. With this political climate, sometimes the jokes write themselves. There is a good part of my routine that is politically driven. Like it or not, we have an administration that is giving comedians, late-night shows and stand-up, a shit ton of material. So, [ Trump] is actually making my life easier. Once I get over the anger and fear and frustration as a human, I can write jokes as a comedian, but I have to have a little bit of a breath to say, “oh god, at least we’re all still alive today.” Then I have to find humor in it, because who knows how long this is going to happened. We all, as a community, have to continue to find joy and laughter when we can, celebrate the community where it is at and actually find safety in each other. Right now, there is definitely some discourse throughout the country, and so I think it’s good for us to find safety where we can.
Echo: What does comedy mean to you and can you describe your brand of humor?
Goldberg: One of the things I’m very good at is bringing joy to people, so my comedy is a way for me to connect with other human beings and break down barriers with people. A lot of the times, I help people laugh at things they normally don’t give themselves permission to laugh at. I’m able to find humor in things people are uptight about or scared about. My comedy is a bridge for myself and the audience, where I get to connect with others and make them feel better than when they did before they came to my show, and I love that.
Echo: Can you tell me more about the charity work that you do and what it means to you?
Goldberg: I am incredibly proud of the work I’ve done over the last few years. I’ve helped raise over six million dollars for LGBTQ+ equality, women’s rights and HIV/AIDS education and prevention. I’ve had the honor of sharing the stage with Katy Perry, Meryl Streep and America Ferrera. Charity work has given me the opportunity to be with luminaries who are changing the landscape for woman and politics. I’m grateful that I have a gift to make people laugh and raise money through comedy. I think it’s incredibly important to give back to the community that supports me. If I have people coming to my show and buying tickets, I want to be able to go back into those communities and raise money so that our trans brothers and sisters are safe and LGBTQ+ children are safe and so that, hopefully one day, [members of the LGBTQ+ community will] be able to walk into their jobs and feel safe and not be afraid to be fired just because they got married the weekend before. Those things are important to me, and because I have a voice, I really like to use it for good causes. And, to be honest, hold people to the fire, especially with this new administration. If they are doing things that undermines our equality, I’m going to hold them to the fire, and if I can do that through my humor, then that’s how it’s going to happen.
Echo: So, would you say that you use humor as a sword as much as a for entertainment?
Goldberg: Definingly! Oh my god, are you kidding?! Facebook, Twitter, those are two ways that people can follow me, and that’s where I usually do my one-liners, because there’s not much space to write jokes or interact. There’s only 140 characters, so I have to be able to take someone down. It’s definitely important for me to be able to use my voice to continue to do that. I’m not going to shy away. Right now, and there’s all sort of articles about this, people are getting their news from comedians and late night talk shows hosts. They are getting their facts from them, because, other than [Echo Magazine], who are we supposed to believe when we read things? We don’t know what’s fake news anymore, so if you really want to be educated and you really want to learn, a lot of these late-night talk show hosts are continuing to make people smarter and more informed.
Echo: Where do you find your inspiration?
Goldberg: Right now, I look at my colleagues … just people who I have admired my whole life. But when I was younger, it was Robin Williams. When he died, I felt like I lost a family member. I cried for weeks when we lost him. He is the one person I name when people come up to me and ask who I would like to meet. I have worked with a lot of celebrities, and it was amazing to meet Katie Perry and Meryl Streep, but I would fangirl with Robin Williams. I wouldn’t even know what I would say to him. It breaks my heart that I won’t have that opportunity. Also, some of the old “Saturday Night Live” cast. Those people were brilliant. It’s nice to see SNL get rejuvenated over the past couple years with all the Trump stuff, because the writing is good. Kate McKinnon is killing it; Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer is magic. Every time there is a new episode, I look forward to watching it online the next day. They are amazing.
Echo: Do you think we’re approaching another golden age of comedy?
Goldberg: Well, there was a golden age years ago, and it comes in waves. I definitely feel like we’re on one of those waves that if comedians can hone in on the material the world is given them right now, the sky is the limit. Especially with everything that is happening right now, there is a lot of people shaken up around this country. There is a lot of people who are scared – whether they are immigrants, trans, LGBTQ+, Muslim or black – they are scared. So, right now, a way to get through this time is through humor. Stand up is a hot bed of information and give people a release from their day-to-day routines and things they have to deal with. That’s why I love my job so much. It allows people a release from their normal, daily lives, and they may not get that very often.
Echo: Are you planning to stay and look around town before or after the performance?
Goldberg: The next morning, after I’m done, I fly out really early for the Trevor Project … which helped raise money for the largest teen suicide hotline in the country and helps kids stay safe. But I’ll fly in Friday night before the show, so I’m sure I’ll have a little time to play during the day. I have some really good friends and fans that live in Phoenix who I know are coming to Bisbee for the pride festival, so I’ll get to have some fun and relax for a bit.
Echo: What message do you have for the people of Bisbee and pride attendees?
Goldberg: I want them to come as they are. Trans, gay, bisexual, allies – everyone come as you are. Come ready to celebrate and have a good time and laugh your asses off and just let go. I just want them to know that they’ll have a good time. We’re going to be in a safe place and enjoy it.
“LOL – Laugh Out Loud” starring Dana Goldberg
7:30 p.m.June 17
Bisbee Royale Theater, Bisbee