My Son the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy! is an enjoyable one-man show written by and starring Brad Zimmerman. He has a fine selection of one-liners, Jewish jokes, touching and humorous stories that make for an integrated ninety minutes of entertainment.
Zimmerman builds the show around autobiographical material (some of it no doubt imaginary), his relationship with his parents, growing up in New Jersey and becoming a stand-up comic.
He tells us that in high school he was voted the one most likely to work for his father. This in a community where life begins after one gets a medical degree. He applies to three colleges and chooses the only one that accepted hm. He indeed does become a waiter for some 29 years. That provides fodder for observing the silly foibles of the way people order, taste wine and generally behave in a restaurant. When a customer asks him what he does when “you are not here” he replies that “I have other tables.” Like many of his jokes, the laugh comes from the unexpected reply to a simple question.
The Jewish jokes, some fresh, some classic, are always hilarious. His mother (she is a mainstay of his routines) tells him that he will be well-taken care of when she goes, he asks her to give him a time frame. He brings three girls home for his mother to choose which one he should marry. She chooses the red-haired one and he asks her why she chose that one. The mother chose her because it is the one she does not like and knows that that is the one her son will marry.
After he became a stand-up comic, Zimmerman got jobs as the warm-up comedian for stars like Gabe Kaplan, Joan Rivers and George Carlin. He got recognition as the best comedian for the money. In 2005 he started working on My Son the Waiter and opened Off Broadway in 2004. He got good reviews and the show stayed for 15 months. He is now taking it on tour and Toronto, with a vibrant theatrical and Jewish community seems like an excellent pit stop.
The title is no doubt meant to be ironic but there is some truth in it. Once a Jewish son, always a Jewish son and the mother is usually a great source of material. When Zimmerman told his mother that, she asked him what will he do when she dies. But his failure to make it as a big star does give some justification for his self-assessment of his life as Jewish tragedy. When it comes to being Jewish, Zimmerman confesses to not being a conscientious practitioner of his faith he considers himself just a notch above a Muslim.
My Son the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy! by Brad Zimmerman in a production by the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company continues until December 10, 2017 at the Greenwin Theatre, Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St, North York, ON M2N 6R8.