Friday, November 09, 2007

I am in South Orange, New Jersey. Tonight I am doing my show, “Letting Go of God.” I am really excited to be here, and the space is fantastic. We have a big audience for tonight and I am thrilled. I had two shows scheduled for Connecticut, but they were cancelled. I guess they hadn’t sold very many tickets. Like almost none. Which I have been mulling over whether to talk about in my blog. People have been emailing me and asking if anything was wrong, like a personal emergency or something. I could make up a big story about some catastrophe, but I am the worst liar. I can keep it up for like ten minutes and then I am too lazy to keep the lie going and I spill the beans sometime when I least expect it. That is my pledge of honesty, I am honest because I am too lazy to lie! Ha. I never thought about it that way before. In any case, one of the two shows, the one in Ridgefield, Connecticut has been rescheduled for June 1, 2008. I’m not sure why I sold so many tickets in New Jersey and not very many in Connecticut. I noticed that they were billing me as “The Comedy Of Julia Sweeney” on one of the sites, which I should have corrected. On the other hand, maybe they were too weirded out saying, “Letting Go of God.” Wow, if someone came to hear the comedy of some vaguely familiar commedienne and ended up, instead, watching me perform my two hour days-journey-into-night about science and religion, I think they would be very surprised. I should be more on top of that. Anyhoo – I am trying to be. I am so sorry for anyone who bought tickets to those shows. There are so few of you I could have probably called you individually, but I am not going to. In any case, I will be in Connecticut, and in June, a wonderful time to be there. I am already planning on bringing Mulan with me, which will be less stressful in one way and more stressful in another. I am going to be part of this big Science Convention (it’s so big, it gets capital letters!) in New York City in late May, and I’m doing my show, “Letting Go of God” there as part of it, so it seemed like a good time to do the Connecticut show. Also, that leaves enough time for us to really promote it well. I am also doing “Letting Go of God” in Portland, Oregon on May 28th, part of a one-person-show festival or something, but I have to get the information specifics for that one, so stay posted.

I have a new performing philosophy for this coming year, so I don’t get caught up in lots of random shows here and there which make my life constantly chaotic. And my new philosophy is this: outside of a few performances I already have scheduled, I will only make dates to perform “Letting Go of God” around the time I am doing the show in Iowa City on Oct. 25, 2008 up to two weeks of shows. This will get posted on my website, but if you or someone you know wants to book “Letting Go of God” into a mid-sized theater, call or have them call my booker for this type of thing: Brian Swanson at Monterey International, 821-625-6300. I’ll have all this up on the website too.

So that means, I have two “Letting Go of God” performing times in 2008, a week at the end of May to June 1, and then probably or maybe a week or so surrounding the Oct. 25th date in Iowa. And then I can plan the rest of my year accordingly. Whew. I feel so organized!!!!!! Before I felt like I was a bit of lint flitting up and back on the winds of sometimes doing the show and sometimes not, and now I know what I’m willing and want to do. This is fantastic. If I could just apply this attitude towards my house and the book I am trying to write, and then extend it towards my house and my daughter and my fiancé, everything will be perfect.

The show with Jill Sobule on Tuesday night at Largo went really well. I mean, some of my stories thudded but overall, I had a good time and I think the audience did too. God, it is so fantastic to be onstage with a band. I mean, it is just… peak life experience time – people! Jill and I are thinking we will develop the show further and maybe open in a more regular way in February. Possibly. On Wednesday this week, (the day after our second Largo show) Jill and I are getting some headshots together for a CD we are working on and also I’ll get new headshots for my website. Right now I have the brunette me on there, when in real life I am the gray me. I had let my hair go “natural” before and then I thought maybe I was aging myself so I dyed my hair brown and not only did nothing different happen for me, casting wise, I really began to realize how expensive it was to have that hair color and I didn’t even really think it looked all that good on me. Then Michael (fiancé – boyfriend, life partner) said he liked my hair gray better. And it was like I got a get-out-of-jail-free card! What a dream-man he is!!!! So, I am back. And I am changing the way I spell gray too – gray with an “a” seems sad to me, when grey with an “e” seems lively and upbeat and REALISTIC about life. So, I am grey. Grey, grey, grey. And soon my picture will be more accurate.

On the plane ride here I read Katha Pollitt’s book, “Learning To Drive and Other Life Stories.” It is fantastic. I mean, it’s really good. I made a fool of myself laughing on the plane. People turned around to look at me, I was laughing so hard. And it’s so poignant too, oh you’ve just got to read it. In her story, “I Let Myself Go” she wrote something that is apropos to my hair color wishy-washy-ness.
She writes, “When I was married I didn’t pay much attention to my looks and when I got divorced I paid even less. I wore my favorite gray T-shirt until you could see through it, like a spider web. You might say I trusted in my powers of conversation to charm and beguile, like a man, or you might say I abandoned the field completely rather than engage in a degrading beauty contest that I felt sure to lose. I would picture T.S. Eliot living like a monk in that rectory, forty-five going on sixty, and it seemed like a sensible choice, to give up intentionally what you are going to be forced to relinquish anyway and to move on to the next stage, some Zennish way of being, but with meat. And yet, I would rage at the way women were sidelined sexually as they got older. T.S. Eliot got a second wind and married his secretary. Why couldn’t America be like France, where older women are seen as attractive, like Charlotte Rampling in Under the Sand? Maybe the difference isn’t the men but the women, my boyfriend said, dryly. Maybe Frenchwomen make more of an effort. Yes, I thought bitterly, they probably do. The slaves.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. There is so much to love in that one paragraph! “…but with meat.” That made me laugh out loud, real loud. And then “…the slaves.” God she is so brilliant! This is going to be my Christmas gift this year, this book and also “The World Without Us.”

Katha Pollitt gave a speech at the Freedom From Religion Foundation conference that I attended in Madison in October. She gave a wonderful speech. And she mentioned something about how religion gives people this worldview, this permission maybe, or this reasonable opinion to believe that each and every one of their small decisions in life has great moral implications. It makes the most mundane things seem significant, it infuses this God who is watching each and every moment and into each and every decision we make. And the truth is that our individual decisions are probably not that important. But if you are a believer, you can believe that they are. Or something like that. Anyway, I was so blown away by that comment. Of course, that is true! Yes, it is so true. The narcissism that you can indulge in as a believer, but it’s so seductive too and it’s so sad to me, of course we all want to think that our choices and challenges are all significant, but really – the hard truth is – they probably aren’t on any bigger scale, not even on an individual life’s scale.

What else is new? Oh yes, a new website for me is being discussed. No more flash. That’s what we’re talking about. Simple. Not-flash. Grey haired Julia. Clear performing schedules. Okay…

Now I am going to go eat lunch and then take a small nap and then run the entire show before the show tonight.


Anonymous said...

I just want to say, I fully intended to buy a ticket for the Hartford show and drive two hours there to see you on Saturday night.

But its also the night I have two friends showing up from Costa Rica. I wanted to go so much, I toyed with sending a cab to pick them up and going to your show...we'd both end up at my house at about the same time anyway.

But I couldn't do it - felt I had to pick them up. And now I am happy to know I am not missing your show, although not happy I contributed to your lack of sales.

It would be great for you to do a show near Boston after Hartford in June. I am sure it would sell out and I can avoid the 2 hr drive to Hartford...

Hannah said...

Thank you so much for Letting Go of God. I listened to it on Yom Kippur, sitting in a park, while my family sat us services. This past weekend I played it for my husband and son. We all loved how it was funny, gentle, respectful, bittersweet. Thanks again.

Sheldon said...

Hi Julia,

Thanks for sending out the file of the "Letting Go of God" theme song. I uploaded it to YouTube, and it's gotten over 1,000 hits in six days. People LOVE it!

If you and Jill would rather not have it there, feel free to take it down...or let me know and I'll do so. I think it's a great way to let people know about your show, however.

Have fun in Jersey!

-- Sheldon

Unknown said...

I took a friend who I'd lent your LGOG CD to, to the Largo show last Tuesday.
Again, you and Jill both delivered like gangbusters.
We both laughed so hard, and had a brilliant time. (Jill has great comic timing, and watching you not enjoying/really enjoying singing is so funny (and pleasing) to watch.)
I'm looking forward to the new CD - wow, I *actually* have a Julia Sweeney CD collection now. You're between Donna Summer and Usher. ;p

Anonymous said...

I just got home from our Holiday Store meeting (bookstore) and picked up the book your reading Katha Pollitt’s “Learning To Drive and Other Life Stories.” OMG I can't believe how beautiful and compact her sentences our. And being around her age I could really relate to what she was saying. I short listed 30 to bring into the store. Want to get behind this one, she's great. How do you find these books?

Anonymous said...

Hi Julia,

I'm relatively new to your blog, but I wanted to say "thanks!" for sharing your thoughts.

I was directed here from "The View" website when you made an appearance. I used to watch "The View" all the time when Rosie O'Donnell was hosting -- I love her attitude and openness!

But one day, I had to miss an episode, and in checking their calendar, I saw that you had been on the show. This puzzled me because I didn't know much of your recent comedy. (All I remembered was the Pat sketch on "SNL", which, admittedly, didn't tickle my funnybone that much.)

But I was intrigued. "Maybe she's in new movie?" "Maybe she wrote a book?"

So I discovered your blog -- and it has since changed my life, and altered the way I am thinking. I'm not sure if this is a good thing? ;-)

Without "God" to lean on or "heaven" as the respite, it makes me tackle human mortality in a different way. Will we see our departed loved ones again? I really WANT to! But we might not.

For me, that realization is a sad one. I can hope all I want, but I no longer am confident as I once was.

My comments are not meant negatively! I want to thank you for awakening me with an alternate perspective...even if I am currently unsettled (for now.)

Your words connect with people.
Keep on being you.

Anonymous said...

I saw you in South Orange. I was part of the group who took up the first rows. I was pleased to see such a full house. You were amazing! Even those who weren't completely sold on the message thought your personal performance was great. And the number one comment was "respectful". You definitely got some folks thinking in our group. I wish you continued luck. I will be buying the CD for a few friends this holiday season.

Elizabeth said...

(This is a different Elizabeth from the one above.)
I just discovered your blog, and what a pleasure. I've always loved your work - "God Said Ha!" is moving and brilliant. So thanks for sharing so much of yourself, your struggles, with us so openly, so humorously. It helps.

I also wanted to say that just because "God" isn't there, guiding us, imbuing our every act and choice with value and deep meaning, doesn't mean that they are without wider significance. I think it's, at least, an open question, because we can never know what impact our actions, large or small, will have. There's a book called "The Unconquerable world: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People" by Jonathan Schell. In it, he talks about Poland under Soviet rule and how they (Havel and others) knew they couldn't defeat the system by direct attack. So they began a system they called, "Living in the truth." This is "in your immediate surroundings...doing what you think needs doing, saying what you think needs saying, acting the way you think people should act - as a way of protest" and, ultimately, change. It worked for them. I have to believe it can work for me, for all of us.

Didn't mean to go on so long. I'll get off my soapbox now! Elizabeth T.

Anonymous said...

Vaclav Havel is from Czechloslovakia (Czech Republic)--Lech Walesa was the leader of Solidarity and then President of Poland. Still--point taken.

LeeBee said...

Bring on the gray, Lady!

I do want to ask: How is it that no one seems to be able to find a marketing phrase/title for your piece that says what it is while not making it look like a lecture?

Who's pulling in that paycheck? They need to try harder.

Anonymous said...

Julia, we saw your show last night with Jill. What a great evening. This is our second time there and if it hadn't been for your blog we wouldn't have found out. Some of the stories we had already heard but enjoyed them just as well and you always add some new twists and turns.
Through you I have also found the FFRF and I'm getting some great holiday gifts from their website.
So, keep me informed and thanks for a great evening.

BEZERKO said...

Hope your show will make an appearance in Atlanta sometime soon. I'm sure the Mrs. and our son, Carter Dean, would enjoy seeing your show also. I'm so psyched that there's people like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Salmon Rushdie, Bill Maher, Brian Flemming, etc. out there being so public about it. My doubts about the whole thing started around the same time I had this suspicion about St. Nick.

Rozanne said...

I'm so absolutely thrilled that you're going to perform in Portland! I'd buy my tickets right this very minute if I could!

I'll spread the word.

Anonymous said...

Too bad your CT shows were cancelled as I would have loved to attended. I haven't heard any promos or anything. Oh well...there will be a next time. Btw, if you're confident with the grey hair, more power to you.

Anonymous said...

My mom and I listened to In the Family Way on a road trip in September, so then I got God Said Ha!, and I just listened to Letting Go of God yesterday - an amazing CD. I just saw Karen Armstrong on the series special God's Warriors on CNN - I will have to read her books.

Anytime you're preforming in Seattle/Olympia area - I'm there!


ps - you look

Anonymous said...

I forgot to finish my sentence - I was going to say you look great with the gray hair, work it.

Anonymous said...

Going grey and natural is sexy! I keep telling myself that.

Can't wait to see the Jill 'n Julia show someday.

Best wishes,


Anonymous said...


Your "dream man" is one lucky fella! I just watched part of your Letting Go of God show on TED, and you had me swooning. I was entralled - not by the content so much as the delivery - are you really as sweet as that!?

Well, it's good I read that you've got a dream guy, I mean as if you wouldn't have I can concentrate on the message when I watch the show again in it's entirety.

Beautiful stuff - thanks alot.

Larkspur Strings said...

Come to Chicago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pretty please?

Jim Collins said...

God puhleeze make Julia do her "letting go of god" show in San Francisco. Oh wait...never mind. Just PLEASE do the show in SF.

big gay fan in SF

k4ns4s said...

I have considered the difference between 'gray' and 'grey' and come up with similar conclusions. :)

Also.. i have just noticed that for an atheist, you sure directly address god often.
"God, it is so fantastic to be onstage with a band." for example.

I hope to see you in park city this weekend!

Booky McReaderpants said...

hey there, i've been reading your blog for a while. i found it last year, i think. it was right after i saw some televised american atheist convention, on cnn, i believe. you stood up and gave a speech, i can't remember exactly what you said -- i wish i could -- but i remember listening and thinking, "hey... that's pretty much what i think...perhaps i really am an atheist (and not and agnostic)." it was really sort of a defining moment for me. so... thanks! i enjoy your work!

Anonymous said...

I just saw, "Letting Go of God" in Park City, Utah. It was a packed house, I suppose you know that. Thank you so much for coming to Utah. Your play meant so much to me. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it and are still talking about it. He was raised Southern Baptist and seemed snort a lot particularly during the Revelations section. I was raised by Catholics without the Catholism. No one in my family actually went to church during my lifetime. I went to Catholic elementary school, and at eight felt so violated when my new step-father announced that there is no god. He turned out to be a pretty good guy, and many years later I came to that same conclusion on my own in what I felt was a more peaceful way. I still sometimes feel like such a big, evil ogre admitting that I don't believe in God or the bible. It was so good to hear your thoughts. They clarified so much of what I have thought about, but had not necessarily finalized. It was helpful to see a thoughtful and seemingly kind person say the things that I still feel weird saying. You know, it's like having a role model. Anyway, thanks. Laura in Salt Lake City.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saving the rest of my life!

Petra said...

This doesn't relate to your post, Julia, but I turn to you as my expert in all things Catholic *bg* most times.

I was talking to someone who is Catholic and got the distinct impression that he believed that as long as you confess afterwards, it doesn't really matter what you do.



I guess when you toss out the bible with the bathwater, your moral compass changes or something. I write about it more in depth in my blog, but I just needed to see if that is sort of the normal thinking in the Catholic church?

: ) Petra

Red Seven said...

Wow, if this show ever comes to Washington/Baltimore, I'm SO there!!

Matt DeBenedictis said...

I must say thank you for your performance of Letting Go of God. Over the past year I've heard it talked about, milled about, and advertised in the magazines I consume. Having a long trip ahead of me due to a death within my girlfriend's family I decided this would be the best time to purchase your performance, as it would be the best road companion my night of rest stops and trying to stay awake. It amazed me, thank you for not only performing it but also for sharing the journey you have had. I myself am a former christian pastor ( small "c" as I no longer believe). You story rested in my heart and to be honest, I found myself tearing up at some of your stories as I've felt the same pain, and what I hadn't experienced myself, you told in such a way I felt like I had been there with you. Thank you, thank you. I hope someday you come to Atlanta, I know I'll be there in the audience.

Anonymous said... -- so, are you going to go up and get the radio show you really, really should get? :D I'm looking forward to it, especially since you have more "skep" and verve to offer!

Anonymous said...

Julia, I'm an L.A.-based sound effects editor. I've worked on several films and tv shows. 'Letting Go' is awesome. If you need any additional sound effects or sound design work for free, drop me a note. I'm about four months late on this offer, I guess, but anyway. -Joey --my email is

Anonymous said...


Updates! Please! Updates!

Chris "Chickenwing" Quigley said...

Just watched "God Said Ha!" again last night, and rarely do I laugh and cry at the same time. I just discovered your blog, and am looking forward to seeing "Letting Go Of God" and "In The Family Way" someday.
Thanks for sharing your poignant wit and wonderful self with the world. It can't always be easy. Unless, of course, you're a total ham, which is always a possibility... ;)

Anonymous said...

You are a brave inspirational and beautiful person!

Xena said...

Your coming to Iowa?!? On my birthday!?! You've got to be kidding me!! I'm so there.

M@ said...

Freedom From Religion Foundation... I'll have to Google them.