Judy Tenuta

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Judy Tenuta
Judy Tenuta 2013.jpg
Judy Tenuta, North Hollywood, California in November 2013
Born (1956-11-07) 7 November 1956 (age 59)
Oak Park, Illinois, US
Medium stand-up, television, music
Nationality American
Genres comedy, satire, observational comedy, insult comedy, camp
Subject(s) Catholicism, current events, American politics, pop culture, religion

Judy Tenuta (born November 7, 1956) is an American entertainer, actress, comedian, author, producer, and accordionist. She is noted for her brash onstage persona, alternating insult comedy with self-promotion as the "Love Goddess."

Early life[edit]

One of nine siblings, Judy Lynn was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1956 into a large Catholic family; to a Polish mother Joann, and an Italian father, Caesar.


Tenuta gained notoriety as a wisecracking, accordion-wielding self-proclaimed "Petite Flower and Love Goddess" during the golden age of character comedy in the mid '80s with such notable contemporaries as Sam Kinison and Steven Wright. She has been featured in several productions of "Weird Al" Yankovic, including The Weird Al Show and the music videos for "Headline News" and "White & Nerdy". She has also appeared on game shows such as Hollywood Squares, Street Smarts and the 1998-99 revival of Match Game. Her most extensive profile came from a series of TV ads for MTV and most notably, Diet Dr Pepper in the late-1980s, as well as her HBO, Showtime and Lifetime specials which became popular and gained her a loyal following. She is also well known for her often quoted catch phrase, "It could happen!"

Her use of voice in her act has lent itself to voice-over work in several animated programs. This includes doing the voice of Edna on Duckman, Black Widow on Space Ghost Coast to Coast,[1] and as herself in Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.

  • 1986: Tenuta appeared on British TV comedy show Saturday Live.
  • 1986-90: She made several guest appearances on the show of her favorite female comedian, Joan Rivers.
  • 1987: She became nationally known in her first HBO special Women of the Night, costarring Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone and Rita Rudner. She also became the first female stand-up to win the "Best Female Comedienne" at The American Comedy Awards.
  • 1987-88: She toured across the country with another of her favorite comedians, comedy legend George Carlin.
  • 1988: She became the "Spokes-Goddess" for a series of "Diet Dr. Pepper" commercials, and also filmed her second HBO special.
  • 1989: Tenuta appeared on Larry King Live, and converted him to her signature religion, "JUDYISM".
  • 1991: She published her first book, The Power of Judyism, following up with an audio CD version in 1999.
  • 1994: She was nominated for her first Grammy, for her comedy CD, Attention Butt Pirates and Lesbetarians.
  • 1995: Tenuta was nominated for her second Grammy, for her comedy CD, In Goddess We Trust.
  • 1996: Tenuta appeared as a drill sergeant, SAM ROTTWEILER, training gay men to defend themselves against bullies in the cult classic film, Butch Camp.
  • 1998: She conceived, produced and starred in the film Desperation Boulevard which was directed and written by Greg Glienna, of Meet the Parents fame.
  • 2001: Tenuta appeared on The View, dishing with Joy Behar, Star Jones and Barbara Walters.
  • 2007: She made a guest appearance as Mrs. Holler, the librarian, on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. She also had a pivotal role as "Margo the Cat Lady" in the Hilary Duff film Material Girls.
  • 2011: She played Zania, a menacing, aging actress, in the independent film, Going Down in LA-LA Land, and the Mother Nun in the independent horror comedy Sister Mary. She would go on to be nominated for Best Actress at the 2012 Laugh or Die Comedy Fest for her performance.

Comic persona[edit]

Tenuta's act is primarily structured around an exaggerated, offbeat persona that is referred to primarily as "The Love Goddess".[2] Other monikers include "The Petite Flower", "Aphrodite of the Accordion", "Fashion-Plate Saint", "Princess of Panty Shields", and "Empress of Elvis Impersonators".[3] Tenuta's persona encourages fans to convert to her own personal religion, "Judyism".


  • Buy This, Pigs! (Elektra Records) 1987
  • In Goddess We Trust, 1995
  • UnButtPlugged, 1999
  • Attention, Butt Pirates And Lesbetarians - Live at CSW, 1999
  • A Space Goddessy, 2002


  1. ^ Space Ghost Coast to Coast on TV.com
  2. ^ Judy Tenuta's comedy relates to discrimination by Joshua Rotter
  3. ^ judytenuta.com, official site. Retrieved December 19, 2013.

External links[edit]