Steve Solomon is Still in Therapy and Still Funny
By Amy J. Barry
Steve Solomon returns to Long Wharf with part two of the longest running one-man comedy show in history: My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m in Therapy.
This show isn’t all that different from the original, except that Solomon has inserted the word “Still” in the title, in front of “in Therapy,” although he never once refers to being in therapy in this sequel.
Everything that worked well in the original, works well in this show. On the other hand, everything that fell flat equally falls flat in the new version. Puzzling that Solomon hasn’t figured that out yet.
Solomon is at his best, riveting in fact, and belly- laughing hysterical, when he sticks to storytelling, acting out the parts and accents of his strict big-armed Sicilian born mother, easy-going, eccentric Jewish father, chain smoking twin sister, and hypochondriac ex-wife.
He captures the crowd when he imitates his aging parents, calling them on their cell phone that he insisted they get for emergencies.
“How did you know we were in Wal-Mart?” his father naively responds in his delightful Yiddish accent.
He also hits the mark with such anecdotes as his parents in the supermarket looking for alphabet soup with large letters.
Solomon’s marvelous mix of mostly cynicism and a touch of sentimentality, delivered in his low-key, conversational tone, also comes through when he—a bit too graphically—describes the c-section birth of his daughter or reads the letter his dad wrote to him when he was born.
So, when someone has so much good memoir material—an interfaith ethnic family rich with equal parts of fierce devotion and dysfunction—the question remains, why does he have to pad his performance with tired one-liners that we’ve all heard before or read on the Internet—Vaudevillian zingers that come out of nowhere?
Oh, and the fart jokes—although one must admit that Solomon has the most original and funny bathroom humor around.
The two hour, one intermission performance takes place in a rec room decorated for Solomon’s father’s 85th birthday party with a hodgepodge of gifts and chochkees piled high on a long table.
And although the set and so much of Solomon’s material lends itself to being constructed as a play, he doesn’t take advantage of this opportunity to weave his wonderful material more tightly together rather than haphazardly jumping from one vignette or joke to another.
While awaiting the arrival of his father for the surprise party, he could flash back on family adventures and misadventures, contrast his memories of his childhood with the dark humor of being a boomer with aging parents, etc.
But reality is, it’s a stand-up comedy routine with a colorful set as a backdrop instead of a black stage.
That said, Steve Solomon is a very funny, entertaining guy who captures the humor and pathos of family life—and Italian, Jewish or whatever one’s heritage, it’s easy to relate to and enjoy this funnybone-tickling performance.
My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m Still in Therapy! is on Long Wharf Theatre’s Mainstage, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven through July 18. Defending the Caveman by Rob Becker returns to the theater Aug. 11-22. For tickets and times, call 203-787-4282 or online visit www.longwharf.org <http://www.longwharf.org> .
This review was published in Shore Publishing Community Newspapers and online Zip06.com, July 14-15, 2010.