New York City Theater
"My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish &
I’m in Therapy!"
Little Shubert Theatre, Manhattan
Here is one more one-man show, one more biography, one more stand-up act. The woods are full of such shows. But what makes performer Steve Solomon (a chubby, balding little man) unique is his endearing quality. While his routine does not have the satirical bite of the current top comedy work, its sweetness compensates. He radiates a gentle humor, and even though he targets his family (both the Italian and Jewish sides), he does so with affection. “My mom,” he says, “is a beautiful blend of Gina Lollobrigida and Danny De Vito.”
Moreover, Solomon has an unerring gift for mimicry. A raft of characters come alive on stage, with accents ranging far beyond his Italian-Jewish-Brooklyn milieu. And his sense of timing, like that of any good comic, is right on.
Much of the Solomon material appears to be true. His parents met in Italy, where his father was stationed as a soldier at the close of World War II. As Solomon describes it, they would marry, go on to a long embattled relationship, but one complete with marvelous meals and numerous relatives. Many of his anecdotes take place in the kitchen, and, not surprisingly, Solomon’s cookbook (half-Italian, half-Jewish recipes), which he compiled with partner Jane Evers, is offered for sale.
While some of Solomon’s jokes have a familiar ring, others are uniquely his. Too many of the jokes are scatological, but he manages to stay within the bounds of good taste. As a child, for example, querying his grandmother for sex information, “Grandma, what are genitals?” The answer: “… people who are not Jewish.” And the throwaway lines: “I used to be indecisive…now I’m not so sure.”
In any event, he is such a likeable guy, that his patter, old or new, is welcomed by his audience. In short order, every one becomes friends.
-- Irene Backalenick
Dec. 7, 2006