Spectator - A Sane Italian Jew? Fugedaboutit
by Robert David Jaffee, Contributing Writer
Historians have indicated there were roughly 50,000 Jews in Rome when Caesar
reigned and the same number under Mussolini. Beyond the obvious
assimilation, its clear Jews and Italians know how to coexist. No wonder
the two peoples lived in adjoining neighborhoods on the Lower East Side and
Steve Solomon, whose one-man show My Mothers Italian, My Fathers Jewish,
& Im in Therapy is playing at the Brentwood Theater, comes from Brooklyns
Sheepshead Bay and is the product of a mixed marriage.
For the show, the stage is filled with kitsch a sign on a bookshelf,
constructed in childrens block letters, reads OFFICE; theres also a framed
Campari poster and a picture of two zaftig women enjoying the sun and
cocktails. This psychiatrists office is not simply a cluster of cultural
clichés; theres the promise of something more in a piano at the left side
of the stage and a telescope on the right.
An adept impressionist, Solomon imitates his Old World Italian and Jewish
relatives, as well as Jamaicans, Indian taxi drivers, pet dogs, even metal
detectors. While many comedians draw upon the clashes between their parents,
few would characterize them as Solomon does in a phone interview the cup
is half-full for my dad; for my mom, its half-empty with poison in it.
While Jews famously make good comics, Solomon says that Italians make even
better comics: They hit you when they talk to you. They smack you all the
time. By the time you leave, you come away black and blue.
In one of his funniest bits in the show, he recalls exhuming dead
silverware, contaminated by both meat and milk, and being apprehended by the
Solomon tells stock scatological, sexual and ethnic jokes, but there is a
tinge of melancholy when he plays Rhapsody in Blue, as well as an original
composition on the piano for his Bubbe, who then passes away.
You get the sense that he might want to stare out that telescope and seek
out distant ports of call, at least New York, the next stop on his tour.
My Mothers Italian, My Fathers Jewish & Im in Therapy runs through
April 9 at the Brentwood Theater. For tickets, call (213) 365-3500.