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Comedians Reflect on Their Big Life Decisions in Beth Lapides’ New Audiobook

The book includes stories about decisions made around family, work, love, spirituality and moving.
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April 28, 2022
Beth Lapides (Photo by Kremer Johnson)

Beth Lapides has been a staple in the Los Angeles community scene for over two decades. In the early ‘90s, the writer, comedian and producer started “UnCabaret,” a show she created out of frustration with the limits of performing in comedy clubs around town. Since then, the show has featured legendary comedians such as Bob Odenkirk, Judy Gold, Patton Oswalt and Margaret Cho. 

Now, Lapides has come out with a new audiobook called, “So You Need to Decide,” which consists of intimate conversations with comedians, writers and cultural icons about big decisions they’ve made in their lives. 

“I knew I had a lot of life-story to share around decisions, and because of all the years of ‘UnCabaret,’ I knew lots of people had juicy stories around decisions,” she said. “I knew I wanted to interlace my own stories with a quilt of conversations.”

The book includes stories about decisions made around family, work, love, spirituality and moving. Odenkirk details his decision to quit “Saturday Night Live,” where he was a writer in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Judy Gold discusses finding a way to have a baby in a two-mom family and Dana Gould shares how he came to terms with a breakup decision via a billboard. 

“I was looking for great storytellers,” said Lapides. “To me, that means people who have a story and are funny and smart about it. So, folks who I knew had made interesting decisions, difficult decisions, had given thought to a decision-making strategy, and would be open to sharing.”

Lapides describes her personality as “completely and wholly Jewish … overthinking, analytical, questioning, morally driven [and] neurotic.”

Lapides, who considers herself a New Age Jew and describes her personality as “completely and wholly Jewish … overthinking, analytical, questioning, morally driven [and] neurotic,” interviewed fellow Jewish performers for the audiobook. It includes Alex Edelman, who referenced the Talmud when talking about his breakup, and Josh Gondelman and Judy Gold, who highlighted the Jewish idea of questioning. 

Growing up in New Haven, Conn. in a Conservative Jewish household, Lapides attended synagogue and went to Jewish sleepaway camp. Though she didn’t have a bat mitzvah when she came of age, she went to plenty of them in her community, and they inspired her to ask questions.

“Those services helped me sit and think about what does it mean to be a man?” she said. “What does it mean to be a woman? [Or] to be an adult, [which was] something I wanted so badly, and yet was mystified by. Maybe it was in these Saturday mornings at shul that I learned to value questioning.”

From there, Lapides questioned her Jewish identity, which helped her reach her own conclusions about who she wanted to become. 

“It wasn’t easy to reconcile the Conservative Judaism of my childhood – which was heavily focused on ‘Never forget’ – with my new age yogi ‘Be here now’ belief system,” she said. “Back and forth they would go. Be here now, never forget. Be here now, never forget. While it’s true that two opposite and conflicting things can both be true, I felt so unresolved about it. One day I finally reversed it and thought oh, ‘Never forget to be here now.’”

Once Lapides entered show business, she then questioned how things were being run on traditional stages, and decided to break out and produce something unique with “UnCabaret,” where performers could fully be themselves. Though she had to take a break from live shows during the peak of the pandemic and go strictly on Zoom, the show is back in person and online once a month.

The goal of the audiobook is to entertain and help listeners decide how they want to shape their lives as well.   

In “So You Need to Decide,” Lapides is again questioning, but this time, she’s putting the spotlight on the performers and inquiring about their fascinating lives. The goal of the audiobook is to entertain and help listeners decide how they want to shape their lives as well.   

“I hope listeners begin to see, understand, even feel the liberation that comes from decision-making,” she said. “I’ve heard that the book is helping people and I’m so glad. That might be because of the quilt of voices. Decision-making is essentially the art of creating your life.”

“So You Need to Decide” is available for purchase on Audible or Amazon.

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