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Review: MY SON THE WAITER at Theater J

Review: MY SON THE WAITER at Theater J

Now through August 21, 2022.

One-person shows have long been a hallmark of the entertainment world and My Son, The Waiter --now playing at Theater J (the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC) -continues the trend. This show is a pleasing mix of banter, anecdotes, and warmth. The world of the one-man show is alive and well.

Writer and actor Brad Zimmerman may feel like an underachiever, but his current one-man show is anything but! In eighty short minutes, Mr. Zimmerman utilizes the mooring point of his twenty -nine years as a waiter to delve into humorous and touching reminiscences and ruminations on success on his own perversely logical and quasi -neurotic terms. Through inventive storytelling, Jewish -oriented quips and instinctive professional theatricality (Mr. Zimmerman was the opening act for the esteemed Joan Rivers and George Carlin; he was also on the hit television series The Sopranos), Mr. Zimmerman held the crowd in the palm of his hands.

The show is a testament to survival and success in the Second Stage of life. Mr. Zimmerman focused on many topics that were weaved into the show with skill and he possessed an alternately pointedly acerbic yet playfully engaging manner. Summer camp, sports, health food and dating were just some of the topics that bubbled up under the anecdotal purview he presented. A bit he delivered about anxiety-ridden airline passengers waiting for hours to get on a flight only to have the pilots react in a nonchalant and non-caring manner was priceless.

Mr. Zimmerman's tone was often blunt and sexually charged but was, also, gently reflective when he reminisced about his loving yet fraught relationship with his obsessive mother. A particular standout was a piece about his mother trying to cajole her dentist into an emergency dental appointment (for her son's broken crown), while she was continually kvetching about her own eye problems, hip replacements---etc.---a massive guilt trip!

Mr. Zimmerman is pessimistic about reality television, is not enthused about this dreadful year of 2022, and he waxed rhapsodic about his favorite year of 1971. The amusing "lists" of topics pertaining to waiters and dating gave a cutting -edge tone to the proceedings.

Another highlight of the show was Mr. Zimmerman's emotionally moving memories about his complex relationship with his father; he seemed to feel frustrated about that relationship as many men do. He wished he had bought his father a steak and that his father could have lived to see his son blossom.

Mr. Zimmerman was completely at ease on stage and possessed an obvious feel for interacting with the audience. It is no easy feat to hold the stage alone.

The tone of the show often reminded me of the neurotic sensibility of Woody Allen with a soupcon of Don Rickles. What emerges throughout the show is that Mr. Zimmerman's parents did not rapturously applaud his decision to exist in the arts/entertainment world. Mr. Zimmerman has incorporated this parental attitude into an interesting variation of a "poor me/suffering" routine which eventually turns into a comedic valentine to his family and his traditions.

Mr. Zimmerman employs "no-holds barred" ethnic humor throughout and he seems to be saying that Gentiles do not have as much humor about their lives as Jews do. Gentiles blend in and do not make waves---whereas Jews "rock the boat", hyper-analyze their lives and -thus---make their life stories funny in the process.

This show is comprised of equal parts blunt humor and equal parts dramatic remembrances--- the tones are never discordant and jarring; rather, the components blend well enough for a lively afternoon or evening's entertainment. (The only small criticism I would suggest is that this unique one-man show would gain from a tad more unifying structure and some catchy visual/scenic touches-- -if the author wishes to garner more emotional investment on the part of the audience).

Serious commendation to Theater J for presenting provocative and non-censored comedy in these times of extreme political correctness. Bravo to Brad Zimmerman for this uniquely hilarious show.

My Son the Waiter is like a refreshing and cool infusion of laughter in a hot sizzling summer.

My Son the Waiter runs at EDCJCC's Goldman Theater located at 1529 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC. through August 21, 2022. Performances are Thursday and Sundays at 2 and 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 2 and 8pm.

Photo Credit: Michael D. Appleton

Regional Awards

From This Author - David Friscic

David has always had a passionate interest in the arts from acting in professional dinner theatre and community theatre to reviewing film and local theatre in college.  He is thrilled ... (read more about this author)

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