My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m in Therapy
Created and Performed by Steve Solomon
Directed by John Bowab
Produced by Nederlander of Bethesda, LLC for the Bethesda Theatre
Reviewed by Steven McKnight
The charm of Steve Solomon’s My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m in Therapy is that a show centered upon the experiences of his cross-ethnic childhood in Brooklyn has universal appeal. Accordingly, Solomon should appreciate the fact that a Southern English-German Protestant found this production a real hoot.
This Bethesda booking offers local comedy lovers the opportunity to experience a show that spent years on the road before an extended off-Broadway run. It takes a talented professional to achieve such success with a one-man show, but Solomon has total command of his material and the many characters that inhabit his world.
It is surprisingly to learn that Solomon spent much of his life as a teacher and school administrator because he has the expert comic timing and smooth performing skills that can take decades to develop. Not every joke in his routine is a winner but Solomon is such a talented entertainer that he often makes you laugh even if you see the punch line coming.
Solomon understands every foundational source of comedy. He draws vivid characters, ranging from four generations of family to a host of other characters you are likely to encounter if you ever travel, receive medical treatment, or encounter law enforcement personnel. He is also a master of comic inflections and funny voices, and at times he plays off the crowd with an old pro’s style.
Family and ethnic humor will never go out of vogue and many of Solomon’s most clever and original moments come from these sources. For example, his recollections of family disputes over the rules of kosher dining are hysterically funny. Unless you were raised by wolves, you will find common comedic ground between Solomon’s extended family and your own relatives.
If you wanted to find some minor quibbles, some of the jokes are old enough to have grandchildren, although Solomon moves along so swiftly you rarely have time to groan. Maybe a few sources of comedy (e.g., hard of hearing humor) were overly utilized. Nevertheless, Solomon’s show is immensely satisfying and a real crowd-pleaser.
You should be aware that there are some PG-13 topics in his presentation (sex jokes, potty humor, and adult topics). This show is not really designed for the children anyway. It is for everyone who has survived their upbringing and acquired the distance to appreciate the gently warped yet heartwarming nature of the family experience.
Mention must be made of the outstanding set design for this production. The setting, a therapist’s office, provides a detailed and beautiful backdrop for Solomon’s show. It has everything Solomon needs for his performance, including a telephone, an intercom, and a piano. The only thing that could have possibly been added would be a drum kit for the post-punch line rim shots. Ba-dah-bum!
At one point in the show Solomon makes a joke and then says “You’re going to use that tomorrow, aren’t you?” You’ll be recalling this experience for many tomorrows to come.
- Running Time: 1:30 (with one intermission)
- Where: Bethesda Theatre, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD
- When: Wednesdays through Sundays until March 16, 2008
- Tickets: $55-$75
- Contact Info: Tickets can be purchased through the box office [301-657-STAR (7827)] or on-line through Ticketmaster.