San Diego, CA---In one of his throw away jokes, Brad Zimmerman says, “Under Jewish Tradition, a fetus is not viable until it graduated from medical school.” Much to Brad Zimmerman’s mothers chagrin, he never graduated from medical school. He did however graduate from the ‘school of hard knocks’. In my book, that makes him viable to do what he does best, comedy; better he shouldn’t do medicine.
Brad Zimmerman, stand up comic/ philosopher/actor found himself waiting tables for twenty-nine years before he could declare with certainty that he had found his passion. He was in his mid-fifties when he finally had enough confidence in himself (after his therapist told him to either you know what or get off the pot) to write his play about himself. That was in 2005 and he has been making the rounds of comedy show opening for Joan Rivers, Garry Shandling and Billy Crystal among others ever since.
His solo piece, now being shown on the Lyceum Stage of The San Diego Rep. through July is “My Son The Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy” and is very much worth a try. It is a ninety-minute commentary on his life in the not so fast lane: “Times were so tough during the leanest years, a summer vacation meant turning the fan on high”. And there are more.
The most poignant and touching thing about Zimmerman’s story is that it’s true and comes from the heart. No one could make up that stuff up. No one would want to. As a Jewish mother and having a Jewish mother and knowing Jewish mothers throughout my lifetime, I can identify, but could never articulate as heartrending, funny and as touching as he does in his act.
Most of Brad’s memories include a steady flow of recollections and reflections, with fondness and affection, of his interactions with his mother: “My friend’s mother bragged about her son buying a million dollar home. My mother bragged about me buying a bookcase.” And after his recent opening (2006) for George Carlin, who praised him to the hilt, he chuckled that he had to tell his mother about the compliment. His candidness and honesty brings out a charm that makes watching and listening addictive.
The New Jersey native showed promise as an aspiring athlete in high school (his Dad was his biggest fan: “Go Zimmie, GO!”). In college he just couldn’t find himself but found his way into acting classes, which he loved. He eventually dropped out of college to follow his dream to New York and eventually Broadway. But as most know, it’s not an easy path to take. “Are you sure you don’t want to work for your father?”
To make ends meet he started waiting tables. High end restaurants didn’t work for him, wine snobs turned him off (he went to a wine tasting class and eventually told them to…well use your imagination), so he worked mostly in casual dining. Those stories and his little vignettes are told with love and affection. They are not only funny they are true to life. “A woman talked to me about trip to the French Riviera. I talked to her about my summer trip by putting the fan on high in my apartment.”
Once Zimmerman took off his waiter’s apron, he never looked back. His ninety-minute show is filled with witticisms, loaded with humor (mostly at himself) and a down to earth presentation that never makes you feel uncomfortable or out of sync with him.
Everyone in the audience, the night I attended, had his undivided attention and when the laughs came they came easy and often. Anyone who can’t identify with childhood memories, lost chances at love and dreams fulfilled after a lifetime of struggle, hasn’t lived. Brad Zimmerman is now living the dream.
An evening spent with Brad, is a worthwhile choice.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through July 6th
Organization: Presley Theatre Group
Production Type: Comedy Tonight
Where: 79 Horton Plaza Downtown San Diego, 92101
Ticket Prices: $45.00-$55.00
Venue: Lyceum Theatre