My Motherâ€™s Italian, My Fatherâ€™s Jewish, and Iâ€™m in Therapy
San Diego Repertory Theatre, Lyceum â€“ Horton Plaza
Playing Now through Sept 4th
Lyceumâ€™s one-man production of â€œMy Motherâ€™s Italian, My Fatherâ€™s Jewish, and Iâ€™m in Therapyâ€ recalls a simpler time. In this technical age of Facebook, texting, and other forms of pseudo-human connection, the simplicity of one guy busting his ass to make us laugh cannot go unappreciated. The show consists of one man telling stories about himself for 80 minutes, and itâ€™s wonderfully entertaining.
Written by Steve Solomon and starring Ron Tobin, this is one of the longest running one-man comedy shows in history, spawning two sequels: â€œMy Motherâ€™s Italian, My Fatherâ€™s Jewish, and Iâ€™m STILL in Therapy,â€ and â€œMy Motherâ€™s Italian, My Fatherâ€™s Jewish, and Iâ€™m Home for the Holidays!â€ Solomon draws heavily from his own life experiences, using his eccentric family for inspiration.
The location is a psychiatristâ€™s office set in present day. Following a humorous overture and medley of traditional Italian and Jewish songs, Steve (Tobin) enters on his cell phone speaking with his mother and father who have no recollection of who he is and why he keeps calling. Steveâ€™s life is surrounded by people only keen on pointing out what is disastrously wrong with him and what he â€œshouldâ€ be doing (many will recognize their own families in this). He tells us stories of growing up in New York through his teen years and his struggles to find gainful employmentâ€¦from marriage to children to divorce and so on.
Tobin plays over 30 different voices, relying heavily on stereotypes for humor. This is a broad approach clearly done to reach wide audiences with its instant recognizability. The production would lead us to believe, for instance, that every Italian person talks and moves exactly like Joe Pesci from GoodFellas. It works well depending mostly on your point of view towards cultural stereotype humor, which can induce uproarious laughter or consistent groaning.
It comes as no surprise that lead actor Ron Tobin came up as a stand-up comic â€“ a skilled impressionist opening for comedy greats such as Jerry Seinfeld and Robert Klein. Tobin is highly effective at connecting with every member of the audience, being a seasoned professional and affable personality. He also leads a delightful talk-back after the show, comparing San Diegansâ€™ sunny personalities favorably to New Yorkers. Again, there is reliance on stereotypes; again, itâ€™s gentle rubbing and easily likeable.
If there is one issue, pretty much a genre standard with one-person shows that have no set changes and no human interactions, itâ€™s the lack of story. The play is a series of anecdotes akin to a stand-up comedy show. Some stories hit more than others; none fall embarrassingly flat. There is little push towards a climax, and itâ€™s natural to wonder at several points just when the show is going to end.
The Lyceum offers an intimate setting where you can see the sweat onstage and the faces of all the audience members. This is a fine show with enough sex innuendoes and cultural references to hold anyoneâ€™s interest, and one that would be excellently suited for that senior in your life. Call up a parent or grandparent, or the always-friendly yet somewhat-lonely elderly person you know, and be proud to offer this night of enjoyment. This is a real human connection here, and at the end of the day, thatâ€™s probably the most important thing we know.
Out of 4 possible joints, â€œMy Motherâ€™s Italian, My Fatherâ€™s Jewish, and Iâ€™m in Therapyâ€ receives: 3 JOINTS!
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ROAR THEATREâ€™S COMEDY IMPROV
EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT / BANKERS HILL
This rapidly rising improv comedy troupe has its own space in Bankers Hill to contain its giddy madness. Led by Travis Doeringer and featuring a deep ensemble of ethnically diverse talent, each show is an unexpected and hilarious delight. Whether you puff-puff-pass or not before the show, you will laugh until you hurt. We recommend that you puff-puff-pass.
ABOUT JON BLOCK
Jon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is thrilled to be a new contributing writer to NUG Magazine. An event producer dealing with music and arts, heâ€™s also the creator of the HERE & NOW franchise, blending personal development with performing and visual arts into original live experiences.