by Brian Matt
Brad Zimmerman used a lot of Catskills sort of humor – lots of jokes that a Jewish audience would pick up on quickly. He used a lot of the ‘nagging wife’ and ‘overbearing mother’ tropes that are common to other cultures, and are well known as comedy staples – especially in Yiddish humor. I know that the overbearing mother is common to Korean culture as well. I’m not sure what other cultures have the nagging wife though. I think that a male audience would immediately get the references, although I was surprised that some members in the audience didn’t get the references in some cases. It was very relatable though, and if you can overlook the current overly sensitive culture to ‘triggers’ it was very enjoyable as well.
However, there were a couple of shortcomings. First, there was a dearth of comedy that pointed out the Jewish man’s shortcomings. Mama’s boys would have been the trope for that – but we only heard about the perspective from the son, not the mother. The same can be said for the wife, although I don’t know much about the humor from the perspective of the wife watching the husband. It was all at the expense of the mother or the wife, and almost never at the expense of the husband or son. I think there were one or two jokes referencing the father though. It may be that he lacks experience as the husband. Also, when he pointed out the boy in the audience, they were clearly autistic. I doubt the audience took note of that, but it could be perceived as culturally insensitive.
My Son, the Waiter, a Jewish Tragedy, continues through September 29 at the Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave, Kirkland, WA. (425) 893-9900, kpcenter.org.