Comedian-writer Judy Toll, who won over auds by turning her neuroses into humor, died Thursday at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica after a long battle with melanoma. She was 44.
Toll chronicled her search for happiness and a husband during regular stints at the alternative comedy showcase Uncabaret. She also worked her quest into the basis for last season’s ABC pilot “Me and My Needs,” in which actress Nicole Sullivan played Toll’s doppelganger.
“She was just an open book,” said friend Nina Wass, who also exec produced “Me and My Needs.” “She found humor in all of her own foibles, all of her own pain.”
That included a mid-1990s dabble with Scientology, which she eventually left — and managed to recover the $37,000 she had poured into the church. Like everything else, what might have been embarrassing to anyone else quickly became comic fodder for Toll.
” ‘Me and My Needs’ was the perfect title to her pilot (which Toll co-wrote with Cynthia Greenberg), because she always joked about how everything was about her,” said Toll’s agent, the Rothman Agency’s Dan Brecher. More recently, Toll had resolved many of those ongoing issues.
“Judy was on a quest to find her husband, and she turned it into a job,” said Oscar-winning documentarian Rick Trank, who Toll met online and eventually married last year. “When she and I found each other, I became part of the routine as well … So much of what she wanted, she got these past three years.”
On the professional front, Toll most recently served as a consultant on HBO’s “Sex and the City,” collaborating with good friend and exec producer Michael Patrick King. A script she had penned with King went into production a day after her death.
According to Trank, Toll — whose writing credits include stints on “The Geena Davis Show” and “Boy Meets World,” in addition to the 1988 feature “Casual Sex?” — felt that she had hit her stride with “Sex and the City.”
Toll’s real love was performing. That included a 1980s stint with the Groundlings, where the Philadelphia native shared a stage with talent such as Phil Hartman and Kathy Griffin.More recently, she felt at home at comedy outpost Uncabaret. Besides Trank, Toll is survived by her mother, brother and sister, two stepchildren and a sister-in-law.
A celebration of Toll’s life will be held June 9; donations in her memory may be made to the John Wayne Cancer Institute.