Practicing Judyism

"Right now, I'm having a baby Almond Joy.I'm having a salad with it. So, like, this has gotta be a balanced meal, right?" asks Judy Tenuta, in a moment of nutrition-confection conflict. "Oh, yeah. Now I feel like I've had a healthy snack. What are we going to do about the election, honey?"

If nothing else, comedians are known for short attention spans. After hearing that in an election year more Halloween masks are sold in the likeness of the winning presidential candidate, Tenuta researched mask sales as far back as '88. Apparently Gore sold more masks than Bush in California this year. (Bush is doing better nationally, however, but Nixon outsold both, for what that's worth.)

Oddly, the headliner of the comedy show Funny Gay Men won the first Best Female Comedian prize at the American Comedy Awards. Self-described as the "fun feminist of the new millennium," Tenuta has high, albeit playfully caustic, regard for other "goddess" performers such as Angelina Jolie and Tori Amos. "Tori Amos. Could she have a few more mood swings? Hello! I call her the PMS Princess of Pop. And I mean that as a compliment, of course."

Tenuta has played practically every A-room and comedy club on the globe and has appeared on virtually every talk show on television. But she had the most fun on the now defunct Donny & Marie program. While playing a song and dancing on the furniture, Donny fell over the sofa. Mormons dropping off divans? Now that is fun.

Not limited to a single forum of creativity, Tenuta authored The Power of Judyism and produced and played in Desperation Blvd. (currently seeking distribution), a touching comedy about a former child star struggling to make a comeback, starring ex-husband Emo Philips, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Downtown Julie Brown, Burt Ward of TV's Batman and Dana Plato, child star of Diff'rent Strokes, who died of a drug overdose shortly after finishing the film. "It wasn't my fault, though," Tenuta says. "She died the day after she did Howard Stern's show."

As any fan knows, her current show would be incomplete without a certain musical instrument. "The goddess must bring the accordion. It was my mother's IUD, so I kinda popped out wearin' it." The funny men joining her will be Brian Bradley from the gay-bar video hit Sorority Girls from Hell, Jason Stuart and Bob Smith, the first openly gay comic to appear on The Tonight Show.

What is it about Tenuta that draws the admiration of the gay community? Do you have to ask? "I'm like a drag queen that talks. I don't lip-synch. I'm larger than life, and they like it. Oh, my God, speaking of which, what are we gonna do about Liza? Liza Minnelli just got out of the hospital." What we were saying about short attention spans?

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Eric A.T. Dieckman