You don't necessarily have to be Jewish to enjoy "25 Questions for a Jewish Mother." Tall people, homosexuals, and yes, children of all ages will relate to at least some elements of Judy Gold's often funny, sometimes poignant, one-woman show that's been years in the works.
The longtime standup comic (she's been on all the TV shows and also co-wrote and produced "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" for a couple of years) covers a lot of ground in the 80-minute performance, which is onstage at San Francisco's Marines Memorial Theatre.
At 6-feet, 3-inches, Gold is an extraordinary charmer. Her show cleverly combines various threads of her life: her comedy act, her personal history and the fruits of years of interviews in which she and writing partner Kate Moira Ryan asked Orthodox and Conservative Jewish women to talk about their lives.
The interviews resulted from Gold's own attempt to examine the validity of the Jewish mother stereotype as well as her own thought: "I love my mother; I just don't want to become her."
Of course, her stand up routine hits the marks, beginning with her signature joke: that the first book that she read when she was a child was the pop-up version of "The Diary of Anne Frank," with her mom encouraging her "Pull the tabs, Judith. Death."
Yet equally appealing are the vignettes in which she acts out responses to the aforementioned interviews with Jewish women who, at least on the surface, are quite unlike herself and her mother.
There's Mrs. Weinstein, the Chinese-American social worker and converted Orthodox Jew who delights in meeting the Caucasian Mrs. Wong while making a home visit on a case. And it wouldn't be a show with "Jewish" in the title if there weren't a touching, inspirational Holocaust survival tale.
Less familiar, and equally fascinating, is how Gold covers the intersection between her lesbian and Jewish lives. She describes her partner Wendy calling the sperm bank, getting pregnant, and delivering their son Henry, only to endure her mother's gruff response and wonderment: How exactly would she and the child be related? (Mom, by the way, comes around.)
Lesser observant Jews and gentiles in the audience will learn some nifty details about Kosher laws, too.
IF YOU GO
25 Questions for a Jewish Mother
Where: Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday; closes March 23
Tickets: $39 to $49
Contact: (415) 771-6900 or visit www.ticketmaster.com