The title of Jewish actor/comedian Steve Solomon’s one man play My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m In Therapy , taking place from April 20- 21 at 7:30 P.M. at the Broward Center For The Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, provokes audiences to laughter even before Solomon performs.
“The premise is set for the audience to know they will hear my many true stories of growing up with many Jewish and Italian relatives in my family who do not always understand each other,” said Solomon.
Solomon has been performing My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m In Therapy throughout the United States and Canada for 20 years, beginning in 2003.
Audiences have been laughing at Solomon’s anecdotes and jokes about his family involving over 30 Italian and Jewish characters, such as the perfect sister who is a chain smoker, the Yiddish speaking Russian born Jewish father, the Italian speaking Catholic mother, the dumb cousin, among others that provide perfect fodder for Solomon’s humorous exchanges between himself and his relatives.
For example, in a dialogue between six year old Steve and his Jewish grandmother Steve asks, “What are genitals?” His grandmother replies, “Genitals are people who are not Jewish.”
In a scene about funerals, Solomon asks his mother “When you die, do you prefer to be buried in a coffin, by cremation or in a vault?” “Surprise me,” said his mother.
Solomon, who is constantly revising his play with new characters to be more relevant to contemporary audiences, has included among his new characters a granddaughter, a cousin who stutters, another cousin who is demented, a parole officer and a therapist to his mix of family dynamics.
“I am older now than I was twenty years ago, so it makes sense to have a granddaughter and more characters to the family.”
“There are many new characters, newly written sections about my parents and their struggle with technology, my favorite section of the play. The comedy is now a bit edgier, and the pace of the show is faster in the updated version.”
What makes the scenes so funny and challenging is Solomon playing the entire cast of characters with his talent of speaking in low and high pitched voices with thick Italian and Yiddish accented English dialects in provoking laughs from the audience.
Solomon feels that although the play title attracts audiences that are both Italian and Jewish, it is the concept of the family and the humorous situations in every family that audiences laugh at.
“Everybody knows about family members that they recognize, be it from their own or from a family they know about. It’s not difficult to find familiar people in my shoes and relate to the same misunderstandings between relatives that one can laugh with.”
Despite having a knack for imitating voices from his Brooklyn neighborhood since age 12, Solomon did not use his talent for a career in show business until he was well into his forties. He was a Long Island high school physics teacher and administrator for 20 years before making a transition into comedy.
“I just couldn’t stand my work anymore and made the decision to make a big change in my life. My world fell apart, financially and family wise and I knew that I loved comedy, so I became a stand- up comedian.”
Solomon is now in his sixties, divorced and has remarried with children from both marriages which he also talks about in his show. He now lives near Atlanta, but resided in Boynton Beach for a decade.
The success Solomon has with his one-man plays comes from his first job in show business as a stand-up comedian.
“When I started doing stand- up comedy I was lousy at first. I had the voices down pat, but knew that the audiences saw me as being older than the kids who do stand up and I knew that I had to find a product for an older audience. So, I found work on cruise ships and began writing My Mother’s Italian… during breaks from performing and found my path to success.”
Solomon has published a book about his adventures into becoming a comedian, titled “Comedian? Don’t Do It! They’ll Just Laugh At You” available on his website stevesolomon.net.