L.A.-based comedian Dana Goldberg is savvy at getting audiences to donate to political causes she believes in. Luring them in with laughter, and lightening their wallets in the process; she does them both for a good cause.
From around the time she started her career in early 2000, performing at an event for the AIDS Foundation in Albuquerque, N.M., to her work with the Human Rights Campaign, to hosting this year’s Resist March in Los Angeles, with guest speakers such as Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and America Ferrera, Goldberg has been a dedicated political activist who also makes people laugh.
“I feel like I have a voice and gift of comedy and there are huge organizations that support me, so advocacy work is a way of giving back to them for supporting me. It’s a reciprocal relationship where we both benefit,” Goldberg told the Los Angeles Blade.
“I get to make them laugh, and in turn, they often give money to organizations that move equality forward, support women’s rights and HIV education, and then I feel that I’m not just getting on stage and making people laugh, but doing something good in the world. It feeds me through the process,” she said.
Before Goldberg was a professional comedian, she says she got a degree in physical education.
“I’m a lesbian. It’s the law. I was also a bartender at Applebee’s for 11 years. It gave me a lot of chops. It’s funny now, but when it was happening, I thought ‘Oh, God, I’m a lifer,’” she says giggling.
Born and raised in a Jewish family in Albuquerque, Goldberg is one of three children, two of whom are gay.
During the Human Rights Campaign’s National Dinner in 2009, in Washington D.C., Goldberg was invited to speak after President Obama and before Lady Gaga.
“My mother was like, ‘So, Obama opened for you.’ Um, I wouldn’t go that far. But if you want to say that I opened for Lady Gaga, that’s fine,” Goldberg told the Advocate.
As most comedians living under today’s White House, there’s a feeling of a “before Trump” and “after Trump.” Goldberg says if you if you can get through fear and anger there’s a plethora of humor.
She explains that every comedian has their go-to a, b, and c-material.
“You come out with your B-material so you can grab them. Then you give them the C-stuff, which is kind of ‘meh.’ Then by the end, you kill them with the A-material. I feel like with the evolution of politics, we’ve had the [Bob] Dole who didn’t know how to spell, the George Bush’s who would maybe misuse grammar, and then suddenly, our B-material, we got Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. Now, all of a sudden, we’ve got this administration.
“There’s a moment you have to figure out whether you’re leading with your humanity, for me it would be my Jewish, lesbian, white female, or am I leading with comedy? Sometimes I have to get past the craziness and the absolute fear, and acknowledge what’s happening to these marginalized communities, and deal with that as a human, and then try to find humor in it and keep sane. If you stay in this place of fear, the ‘woe is me’ and dark cloud of this administration, no one is going to get through this. As comedians we have to deal with it personally, shift it out of fear and help the rest of the community and world heal, cause that’s our job,” she says.
Goldberg has performed and helped to raise money for such organizations as the Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis and suicide intervention prevention services for LGBTQ youth between ages 13 and 24, LPAC: The Lesbian Political Action committee, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and this month she’ll be emceeing the 30th Anniversary Gala for LEAGUE at AT&T in Los Angeles.
Laser focused, Goldberg says she’s looking toward the 2018 elections, and hoping one of the houses will flip. She touts the work of what she calls HRC’s 2018 initiatives of going “door-to-door” and working “boots on the ground.”
“It shows that when people come together, they focus on a cohesive goal of knowing what to do. Even in our own community there’s some fragmentation. People have different goals. The trans community still seems so foreign to some parts of the ‘LGB’ community. We have to come together and try to get some politicians to help us move forward. Not necessarily only Democrats, it’s just rare to find a Republican politician who’s going to come out and support our equal rights,” she says.