Brad Zimmerman’s ‘My Son the Waiter’ serves up the laughs
Actor and comedian Brad Zimmerman was the late Joan Rivers’ opening act for more than seven years.
He’s also worked with other comedians including Brad Garrett, Susie Essman, Dennis Miller and the late George Carlin.
However, getting those gigs wasn’t easy. In order to follow his dreams, Zimmerman served food for more than 25 years, while waiting for his time to shine.
Park City will get a chance to see Zimmerman in full comedic action when he performs his critically acclaimed one-man show, "My Son the Waiter: a Jewish Tragedy" on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Temple Har Shalom. The performance is a fundraiser for the Temple Har Shalom.
The production, which is part stand-up and part live theater, was inspired by his Jewish upbringing and time as a waiter, while his two brothers worked for his father.
"Every ethnic group has stereotypes and one for Jews is that you have to be a doctor or a lawyer," Zimmerman said during a phone interview from Florida. "That’s how you get your parents to be proud of you and all of that stuff.
"Now, if you go out of the mainstream into something like the arts and you don’t make any money, you know how it affects your parents," he said. "On the plus side, it makes for very good comedy because of the conversations between a mother and a son."
The seeds of the production itself were planted in 2005, while Zimmerman was, fittingly, waiting tables.
"I had done some one-man shows in the past and paid my own money to do them," he said. "One night a customer, who had become of friend of mine, told me if I ever wanted to do another one-man show he would produce it. So I decided to do another. Since I worked both as a comedian and actor, I decided to make a hybrid."
Eight years later, "My Son the Waiter" became a hit.
"I was doing the show in Florida and it kept getting extended," Zimmerman said. "As a result, two producers bought the touring rights and now I’ve been around the country, which is incredibly gratifying. A two-month run in New York turned into a year and three months and I’ve been here in Florida now for the past two months."
Zimmerman has also written a sequel called "My Rise to the Middle," which he will perform in Florida.
Right now, however, he’s looking forward to the Park City performance, which stemmed from a meeting with Barry Baker, who sits on Temple Har Shalom’s board of directors.
"He’s a great guy and I met him after he sat on the front row of one of my shows in New York," Zimmerman said. "Interestingly enough, it was a horrible audience that night, but he liked it and asked me to come to Park City."
While Zimmerman’s never been to town and isn’t a skier, there is an added bonus of performing at Temple Har Shalom.
"I have some high school friends who live in Park City who will come to the show," he said. "I haven’t seen them in 40 years."
Zimmerman is grateful that "My Son the Waiter" has resonated with his audiences.
"The reality is there are early bloomers, late bloomers and some who never bloom, which is sad," he said. "I always wanted to be an early bloomer. That’s impressive and you get the girls. But there is something about being a late bloomer now. There’s the appreciation about the product that has taken so long to mature."
The funny thing about it all was that Zimmerman said he wasn’t on any track to be an actor or comedian.
"I was born to hit a baseball, and I was told by a coach when I was really young that if I continued to play baseball I could become a pro," he said. "I could have chosen any number of sports and would have been able to play at least in Division I."
It never occurred to him to choose sports as a career.
"I wasn’t willing to pay the price to be great, but when I chose acting, which didn’t come nearly as easy, it turned out that I was willing to pay the price," he said. "I think I partially unconsciously viewed this as a challenge to see how good I could get."
Still, Zimmerman, who has performed "My Son the Waiter" hundreds of times, said he relishes in the struggle to keep the show fresh.
"When you have something like the restaurant material, some that I wrote 20 years ago, you have to give the impression that each time you perform it, even though you’ve done it 6,000 times, that it’s the first time you’re doing it," he said. "That’s a real pro, and I don’t want to be a one-trick pony."
So, he has added some new bits and taken out some old ones over the years.
"That’s why I wrote the sequel," he said. "There is some great material in both the first piece and sequel that I could take out or add."
He also enjoys the immediacy of live performances.
"Nothing touches that," he said. "I am interested to see where this will take me, though. I would love to do a sitcom, but we’ll see. In all reality, I could die now and be quite happy."
Temple Har Shalom, 3700 Brookside Ct., will present comedian Brad Zimmerman in "My Son the Waiter: a Jewish Tragedy" on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $75. Proceeds will benefit the Temple Har Shalom. For more information, visit http://www.bradzcomedy.com and http://www.templeharshalom.com.
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