Radio Kvetcher Jonathan Goldstein Is Still Learning How To Grow Up

Montreal Humorist Plugs New Essay Collection

Carpe Diem Maybe: 43-year-old Montreal humorist Jonathan Goldstein is out with a new collection of essays called “I’ll Seize The Day Tomorrow.”
Jane Lewis
Carpe Diem Maybe: 43-year-old Montreal humorist Jonathan Goldstein is out with a new collection of essays called “I’ll Seize The Day Tomorrow.”

By Susan Comninos

Published May 28, 2013, issue of June 07, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

If Goldstein seems to enjoy blowing the lid off family secrets, his parents are happy to help — even hamming it up with scripted lines for “WireTap.” (In one episode, his father called in to pretend that his own dad was the model for all Jewish in-jokes — even claiming that when pop lacked a napkin, he would simply use the living room drapes.)

“WireTap” shows how much his parents were already “performing their relationship,” Goldstein said, in what may be self-justification for using their antics in his work. Still, their inherent comedy has come to represent more than just fodder for his essays, which have appeared in The New York Times Magazine and The Walrus, as well as in his two previous books, “Lenny Bruce Is Dead” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible!”

“They enjoy it,” Goldstein said of his parents on “WireTap.” “They’re contributors. Sometimes I’ll feed them lines. If they’re acting, there’s a minimal honorarium.”

Professional — and financial — instability is a worry for many, and in Goldstein’s case, that’s been particularly true. Just this year, he went from being a contract to full-time employee at the CBC. “If my show gets canceled, I’m on staff here,” he said. “They have to find me some other form of work.” The safety net is something he lacked during the 10 years he was stuck in telemarketing, before he came to produce his own program.

This explains his reliance on family as a measure of success. “I was always anticipating my parents’ worry. I’m a full-grown man,” he said, “but I always look at them as a read on how I’m doing. Since my sister had a couple of kids, they’re so focused on the kids. I don’t have to constantly assure them that I’m okay, and it’s healthy.”

Still, his childhood — his buddies, his mom and dad, his favorite foods and home — is at the heart of “I’ll Seize the Day Tomorrow.” In it, being on the cusp of 40 feels like moving into a new house where half the boxes remain unpacked. “But I am enjoying the feeling,” he writes, “that not-yet-being-settled feeling — and I plan on dragging it out as long as I can, because it’s a state of grace where all things are permissible.”

Goldstein’s urge to sidestep maturity may be hanging on, but alongside a growing sense of professional privilege. “It’s exciting to present people to the world that you think are great,” he said. But don’t forget existential terror: “I’m always afraid things are going to bottom out and I’m going to end up living in a car with cats.”

Susan Comninos is a frequent contributor to the Forward. Her journalism has recently appeared in The Boston Globe and Christian Science Monitor.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.