San Diego Theater Review: MY SON THE WAITER, A JEWISH TRAGEDY (Lyceum in San Diego)

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by Milo Shapiro on June 2, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional

TRAGIC FOR HIM BUT GOOD FUN FOR US

Hot on the heels of the run of Old Jews Telling Jokes, the Lyceum brings us a very different and more personal look at Jewish humor.  Instead of a non-stop set of jokes, comedian and actor Brad Zimmerman’s one-man show is a well-rounded piece.  Part observational humor, part witticisms, and part tribute to his great love of his culture and parents, Zimmerman adeptly carries the entire show.

The title alludes to two themes in the program:  1) His conviction that he will indeed be a performer, even if it means waiting tables for another 29 years while awaiting his break and (2) his mother’s less-than-thrilled reaction to this choice, going into its Brad Zimmerman  starring in My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedythird decade.  But My Son the Waiter is more than potshots at the stereotype of The Jewish Mother; Zimmerman lays out his clunky road to fame and his many personality quirks dragged over the speed bumps on that road.  Along the way, we laugh at the antics of a burned-out waiter in a less-than-posh establishment; we experience his struggle to make the most of getting by (he counters someone’s lavish holiday plans with “For my summer vacation, I plan to put my fan on high”), and we learn how hard it is to date when your life isn’t where you want it to be.  Generally funny but touching as well.

Zimmerman fully erases the fourth wall, commenting on an usher’s laugh and interacting with a couple entering late.  The show feels intimate as he carefully walks the line of being both polished in his material and appearing casual in his stand-up-like repartee (Zimmerman draws off his stand-up experience, opening for Brad Zimmerman  in My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedythe likes of Joan Rivers and George Carlin).

Is the material universal?  Yes, even more so than Old Jews Telling Jokes, which dwells heavily on the Jewish factor.  Zimmerman’s cultural heritage in Judaism (if not his actual religious beliefs, another topic covered) colors more than limits the show.  Everyone can relate to, laugh at, and even be moved by this material, but you just might hear the Jews in the audience laughing a bit louder—in the same way everyone laughs at Nunsense or Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You but you can usually pick out audience members who survived Catechism.

Brad Zimmerman  in My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy.When Zimmerman’s heart shows through, especially with the clear love of his parents, I suspect that the offstage Zimmerman is less cynical than his on stage persona, and that he is pumping up the cynicism as fodder for material.  Well-paced and only occasionally corny, My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy may not leave you aching from laughter, but its smart writing has enough humor to it that you’ll be rooting for Brad while getting plenty of solid chuckles.

My Son the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy
produced by Philip Roger Roy and Dana Matthow
Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza
scheduled to end on July 6, 2014
EXTENDED to July 20, 2014
for tickets, call 619.544.1000 or visit Playhouse Info

then plays Scherr Forum Theatre
Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks
2100 Thousand Oaks Boulevard
August 27 – September 21, 2014
for tickets, call (805) 449-ARTS (2787)
or Ticketmaster: (800) 745-3000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com

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