Who she is: 

Judy has always liked to make people laugh, a trait she inherited from her father who had a great sense of humor.

Growing up, Judy was teased a lot for being tall and sometimes felt like she didn’t fit in. She started playing piano at the age of six and two years later took up the clarinet, too. She calls music her “saving grace.” By high school, she spent most of her time playing music in the school band, the school orchestra, and the school choir. She loved music so much she decided to study it at Rutgers University.

What she does: 

In college, Judy no longer felt self-conscious and made a lot of friends who shared her interests. One of her friends convinced her to do a stand-up comedy routine for her entire dorm floor, making jokes about their life. Everyone loved it, especially Judy, and she started to perform at local comedy clubs.

After graduation, Judy moved to New York City and took acting classes. In 1989, when another comedian cancelled her spot on a TV show called Caroline’s Comedy Hour, Judy was asked to fill in. That was her big break. Afterward, she got jobs on TV, in movies, and performing on stage. Most recently, Judy wrote a script and composed the music for a one-woman show called It’s Jewdy’s Show—My Life as a Sitcom.

Why she's cool: 

In her comedy, Judy takes aspects of her own life experiences—being Jewish, being a woman, being very tall, being a lesbian—to bring people together in laughter. Her comedy is not only funny, it also helps people think more deeply about the ways we define people and their roles. For example, her one-woman show, entitled 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, combines her experience as a daughter and as a mother with interviews she conducted with Jewish mothers all across the U.S. to show how diverse Jewish mothers really are.