OCT. 14-15, PRESENTED BY FSCJ ARTIST SERIES
It’s been 10 years since comedian Steve Solomon first performed his scripted, one-man show “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m in Therapy” on the Broadway stage. He continues to share the hilarious antics of his colorful family who put the “fun” in dysfunctional. For Solomon, the show is a love letter to his parents, who inspired the show’s title and a decade’s worth of material. To audiences, it’s the reassurance that maybe our families aren’t so crazy after all.
The FSCJ Artist Series presents “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m in Therapy” Oct. 14-15 at the Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts at the FSCJ South Campus. Audiences will be reunited with familiar characters and will meet new ones, like Solomon’s sister, a four-pack-a-day smoker with a voice like gravel. “She’s been smoking since she was three years old,” he jokes. “We do 20 different characters in the show. I keep updating the material and new characters pop in all the time so it’s a lot of fun.”
Solomon says he recognized early on the comedy that existed throughout his family tree. His impressions of his mother’s thick Italian accent and his father’s heavy New York dialect always got big laughs. But there was also an entrepreneurial advantage to his skill.
“The turning point when I was 12 years old and I delivered Chinese food in Brooklyn in the summertime. When I would pull up to the apartment houses, I’d ring the bell and they would say ‘who is it?’ and I would say ‘Chinese delivery’ and they’d never open the door,” says Solomon, who then would fake a Chinese accent to up the authenticity level of his delivery “character.” “Then they would open the door and go ‘uh…’ and I’d say ‘he just left but he asked me to give you this’.”
When Solomon tells the story of his mother’s reaction to her son’s show, it was during an interview on Italian television. As he does on stage, Solomon tells the story in character. “They interviewed her and said ‘so, Mrs. Solomon, what do you think about your son making fun of you?’ and she said ‘as long as he makes money and makes me famous, what do I care?’”
Solomon says his father’s opinion of the material was less obvious but no less funny. In fact, when Solomon spends time with his dad, he’s learned to have a pen and paper handy because he never knows what he’s going to say next.
“I said ‘what’s the matter, Pop?’ and he said ‘I forgot where I put my Ginkgo Biloba’. And I go ‘yeah, I gotta write that one down’. It’s not schtick. It’s real stuff. I went to visit them in their little condo and he’s sitting on the porch and I said ‘what’s up, Pop?’ and he said ‘I’m just looking at the birds and I’m thinking if I could fly, who would I crap on?’ That’s my father.”
This is the good stuff, the reason Solomon continues adding to this living scrapbook of family memories. The show serves as a touchstone for audience members who can relate to the stories and see themselves and their families in the characters.
“It’s terrific. Every day I think of something new or remember something they said. The beauty of it is the people who come to see the show identify with it. Not only just the family members but the TSA agents that drive you crazy, the doctors, the people you meet on the street, and they go ‘oh my God, that’s my cousin’. That’s the nice part about it. We never talk politics, we never talk religion. The only thing we do about religion is the arguments between my parents. It got to the point that my father started looking at his burial plot as a vacation getaway but it’s been an adventure and it still is. As long as the people love it, I can never retire.”