My Son the Waiter, a Jewish Tragedy **** By: Paulanne Simmons
For 29 years actor-comedian Brad Zimmerman waited tables in New York City. Now, pushing 60, he recounts those adventures and misadventures in a cabaret show that’s part autobiography and part standup, My Son the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy.
With a self-deprecating sense of humor and a perfect sense of timing, coupled was a lot pretty good material, Zimmerman keeps the audience laughing for the greater part of his show. He has a definite knack for the unexpected punchline. All of which makes for lines like, "Of the three colleges I applied to, I decided to go to the one that accepted me."
Zimmerman traces his life from his camp days, through his school years, to his long stint as a waiter, to his career as an entertainer. Along the way he reviews his complicated relationship with his parents and comments on various world-shattering subjects such as reality television and discomfort on airplane flights.
The funniest parts of the show are those that deal with Zimmerman’s experiences as a waiter. Unfortunately, there’s much too little of this. And people who come to see the show based on the title will be disappointed.
Another problem is that Zimmerman can’t seem to make up his mind whether he wants the audience to take him seriously or not. Several times during the show the lights dim and he tells a gripping or highly emotional story involving his parents, old age and death. This is not the stuff of comedy.
Nevertheless, there’s enough in this show to keep audiences laughing, and occasionally crying or reflecting on life in the 21st century. What more can we ask from a performer?
Zimmerman’s mentor, the late Joan Rivers, once called Zimmerman "the best comic in his price range." In fact, he is a very fine comic in any price range.
My Son the Waiter runs through December 31 at Stage 72 – Triad Theatre, 158 West 72 Street, 212-868-4444 or visit wwwplayhouseinfo.com.