Julia Scotti’s story of Identity, Family, and Stand-Up - This International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrate queer joy with Julia Scotti: Funny That Way

Julia Scotti’s story of Identity, Family, and Stand-Up - This International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrate queer joy with Julia Scotti: Funny That Way
Written by GOOD DOCS Intern, Emma Kuli ----

This International Transgender Day of Visibility, stories of hope, love, and resilience, stories like Julia Scotti’s, need to be center stage. 

It’s in Julia’s forties that she realizes something is wrong. Her life, after coming out as a transgender woman at fifty, begins anew. 

Julia Scotti: Funny that Way celebrates the search for truth, found family and reunion, and persistence in the face of adversity that shaped Julia Scotti’s life. 

This is a story about hope.

Interweaving five years of film, home videos, and old footage, this documentary showcases both the pain of Julia’s journey and the joy she found in self acceptance.

“Hey, listen, if I look familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve got an uncle that looks like me,” opens an old standup performance, “[...] that’s gonna be my job in life, right?” There’s an inspiring contrast between the self-deprecating jokes that started Julia’s career and the way she commands the room with charisma in the present day. 

This is a story about family.  

Funny that Way explores the complexity of Julia’s life. We see the love that surrounds her, and she speaks candidly of the isolation that paved the road to self-discovery. 

Julia describes spending a lot of time driving, “If you’re a halfway decent comedian, you spend most of your life living in your car.” 

Following Julia, we see the potential for great loneliness within the demands of a career as a comedian and the marginalization of living as a transgender woman.

Traveling for comedy and struggling with her identity, Julia grapples with difficulty in multiple marriages. The discrimination she faces under the law further isolates her. One example of this comes when, after having an affair and coming out as transgender, Julia loses custody of her kids, ruled “unfit to have joint custody.”

Kate, her ex-wife, describes the physical and emotional pain of Julia’s gender-affirming surgery in Canada, “she had to rewrite her entire life.”

Julia’s community comes from the found family of comedy, the solidarity of queer identity, and her reunion with her children. 

At Comedian’s Breakfast, the comics who’ve known her for years celebrate Julia over the clatter of the diner. In toasts and anecdotes, we see the support and love the stand-up community has for Julia. “It is family, we are all family,” Julia says of the comedians who’ve gathered for this long-held tradition. 

Speaking at Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Julia discusses the fear within the community and the chance to tell her life story, “and that there is hope, whether they believe it or not.” We see how the chance to highlight her story of hope and survival is also a chance for unity and connection. 

A key part of Julia’s story is her reunion and reconciliation with her children.  Although they are separated for 14 years, Julia’s son and daughter are once again a central part of her life throughout the filming of the documentary. 

This is a story of perseverance.  

Julia describes herself as a survivor, “To me, I am a survivor who was lost in the world of politics, stereotypes, and who now resounds with joy each day of her life.” 

Comedy is Julia’s weapon against damaging social narratives and the pain of transphobia. 

From jokes reflecting on her most painful life experiences to jokes about the reality of discrimination that transgender Americans face, Julia is able to battle hardship with humor. 

Even after living on life support and surviving a quadruple bypass, Julia remains fiercely funny, “I just find a lot of humor in looking at mortality and just saying, screw you!” In the triumphant end of the film, Julia heads on her I’m not Dead Yet tour. 

Julia's story–of joy, community, and survival–offers hope to those who may feel invisible.


Learn more about Julia Scotti: Funny That Way and how you can bring this documentary, and Julia Scotti, to your campus + community.