My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m in Therapy
Written and performed by Steve Solomon
Marines Memorial Theatre
Through July 22
Steve Soloman. Photo: Charles Rapp Enterprises
The title alone will pull you in. And comic Steve Solomon’s one-man show mostly lives up to it. Trouble is one wonders what the New York hit, now on the first stop of a national tour, is doing on a theater stage at all. It is stand-up comedy, the kind that goes down better in a small lounge with a martini. I know, I know, Billy Crystal did it in “700 Sundays” but that show had some continuity – a story line that held it together between bits. This one just has the bits, hung on that catchy title but rarely relating to anything in it.
Nevertheless, it is funny, sometimes hilariously so. Solomon has a deadpan delivery and, standing in his psychiatrist’s office, supposedly waiting for an appointment, he uses it to skewer cops, airport security, marriage, kids, divorce, a number of ethnic groups – some of which he belongs to – and old people, especially old people. (When asked at the opening night “after-party” what he has against old people, the comic replied: “I don’t have anything against old people; I just talk about my family.”).
That family, as advertised in the title, consists of a Russian Jewish immigrant who brings home an Italian war bride with all the resultant complications. Eventually they give birth to Solomon and his sister, depicted as a four-pack-a-day chain smoker who does little but cough into the cell phone (Solomon, of course, does all the voices but none better than her). There are the beloved grandmothers: the Italian Nonna and the Jewish Bubbe, a sprinkling of alienated grandpas and a couple of dogs. And it seems that few of them, especially those over 60, can hear a thing.
Eventually, little Stevie grows up, gets married and has a couple of kids of his own but, when his wife gets religion and decides to keep a kosher home, that doesn’t work out too well. She gets her mother’s silver in the divorce settlement but Solomon can’t find it because he had to bury it in the back yard after he used the wrong dish towel to dry it off after a dinner party. A long riff on the arcane Jewish dietary laws is one of the funniest things in the show.
There is a good deal of toilet humor, some of it good, some less so and the requisite sprinkling of sex jokes. And, like any good stand-up, Solomon periodically addresses members of the audience, breaking the fourth wall in order to involve us in his thing. Some of his jokes are painfully old. (Jewish holidays boil down to “They tried to kill us, God saved us, let’s eat.” And the even older: Man to his wife in bed – “Honey, did I hurt you?” “No, why?” “You moved.”). And Woody Allen’s wonderful: “I used to be indecisive; now I’m not so sure.”
As for me, I liked this show but I’m not so sure it shouldn’t be cut by a half hour and presented in a lounge or comedy club. And now for that martini …