Lesbian comedian Dana Goldberg knows she's pissing people off. She just doesn't care. "If I'm making everyone happy in the world, I don't think I'm doing my job," she argues.
On the other hand, Goldberg also believes it's her job "to bring people joy, but it's also to help people be seen when they don't feel like they're being seen."
Goldberg, who started in comedy in Albuquerque, N.M., 15 years ago, has seen her star rise each year since. Today, her social media following continues to grow (thanks, in part, to her role in the resistance against the current administration). A weekly guest on The Stephanie Miller Show on SiriusXM, Goldberg hosts her own web series, Out in Left Field With Dana Goldberg on Advocate.com, and has performed in 40 states and eight countries.
As emcee at events for GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, and the Trevor Project, this out lesbian comedian has emerged as the go-to resistance comic, good for when the queer community wants to fight for our humanity--and laugh at ourselves in the process.
"I get to say the things that other people are afraid to," Goldberg says. "And I give [audiences] permission to laugh at things that they don't give themselves permission to."
Although she's unapologetically out in her comedy ("I'm not going to closet myself," she asserts), Goldberg has never let that pigeonhole her. She argues it's easy to connect with diverse audiences, because of our shared humanity--and the neuroses we've all inherited from our parents. "We all have dysfunctional families and crazy exes and crazy relationships," she says, describing her own family as "a wild pack of Jews," where two of three kids are gay in a household run by a single mother.
Although her comedic flair seems to come naturally, it wasn't always obvious to Goldberg. "I have a degree in physical education--because I'm a lesbian, that's the law," she jokes. "But I don't know if I would have found [my comedic] voice if I had stayed in the education field, because ... I would have been teaching children, and I would have been helping them find their voice. What's interesting is that priming my voice onstage has inadvertently helped other people find theirs."
"Most comedians, whether we admit it or not, we are very sensitive-- incredibly sensitive," she admits, but she doesn't censor herself. Still, Goldberg acknowledges, the reactions to her mocking the vice president have been mixed.
"I've had gay men come at me hard and say, 'I'm sick and tired of gay men being a punch line with Mike Pence and being used as a weapon,'" she notes. "What people don't understand is comedians aren't using gay men as a weapon or a punch line. What we're doing is using comedy to challenge Mike Pence on something that I think most of the world believes is really hypocritical. That's what comedy does."
Adamant that she will never lay off the anti-LGBT leader, Goldberg insists, "Comedy is used as a weapon to have someone look at themselves in the mirror, so I, as a comedian, am putting a mirror up to Mike Pence." In her eyes, you don't always need to be queer to make that punch line.
"Chelsea Handler tweeted the other day 'Jeff Sessions is a bottom,' and someone got so mad, they're like 'You're using bottoms as an insult,' and my response was 'If you're going to be offended by something, be offended that someone is actually having sex with Jeff Sessions!'"