A Jewish mom and an Indian mom stroll right into a theatre . . .
It sounds just like the set-up for a basic ethnic identification joke, but it surely’s what occurred after I took Sandy Cohen and Asha Jain to see Brad Zimmerman’s one-man present My Son the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy on the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
From the present’s title it’s fairly clear that it trades on the stereotype of the overbearing Jewish mother, however I used to be curious if it could ring true past that particular tradition.
Jain shortly got here to thoughts: born in India, she’s the mom of theatre director Ravi Jain and has been touring with him on and off for the previous 5 years in A Brimful of Asha, an autobiographical present about her and her husband’s efforts to rearrange a wedding for him (a story she assures me with a smile is “completely true”).
Together with Ravi (who’s now married to the actor/author Sarena Parmar), Asha has one other grownup son and two granddaughters.
My different viewing companion, Cohen, is mom of two, grandmother of 5 and a serious theatre fan, whose late husband Bob starred in comedy exhibits at their synagogue.
My Son the Waiter, a touring present introduced in Toronto by the Harold Inexperienced Jewish Theatre Firm, is just not fairly what we anticipate: not a lot a play as an prolonged standup routine, which finally delivers a story of Zimmerman’s journey from underachieving, bitter restaurant employee to reasonably profitable standup (he opened for Joan Rivers, who referred to as him “the very best comic in his value vary”).
The meat and potatoes of the present is figuring out jokes about Jewish tradition, which play properly with to a packed preview viewers, largely made up of older people a lot of whom, I’d wager, are Harold Inexperienced season subscribers.
I ask Jain if she related to the fabric and she or he instantly mentions the favored Indian-Canadian comic Russell Peters, whose routines usually deal with Indian mother and father’ expectations and their children’ unfailing capability to not stay as much as them (the previous normal Zimmerman gives a few Jewish fetus not being viable till it graduates from medical college may simply be transposed right into a Peters gag).
Cohen too discovered the jokes acquainted. “His supply and timing are glorious, and the fabric — I’ve heard it earlier than. It’s from the Borscht Belt. My late husband liked that sort of humour.”
For lots of the present, Zimmerman represents himself as an underachieving shlemiel who waits tables for practically three many years however is just not precisely passionate in regards to the pursuit (when an impatient buyer tells him he’s in a rush, Zimmerman zings again, “Why don’t you simply go?”). I’m wondering to Cohen and Jain about this self-portrait of the artist as a younger loser.
That’s what mother and father do, Jain replies. “They make you’re feeling like a loser.”
Cohen agrees: “Sure, should you’re not a physician or a lawyer.”
“That’s why he made that joke, how he’s put down on a regular basis,” says Jain. “And that’s true in our group too. We would like our children to be some skilled: physician, lawyer, IT skilled, banker, businessman.”
Did Cohen and Jain contain themselves of their youngsters’s alternative of profession? Cohen says she did: “We guided them. We pushed them, sure. Each my youngsters are professionals. My son is within the banking enterprise, my daughter is a bodily therapist and she or he knew since she was 12 what she needed to do.”
Jain says that, early on, Ravi’s curiosity in theatre was a wrestle for her. “When he graduated from NYU, he was the one Indian one who got here out of the theatre diploma. That was arduous for me as a mom. We had quite a lot of arguments earlier than he went into the profession however, as soon as he did it, we supported him all the best way.”
Playing cards on the desk, girls: if certainly one of their children or grandkids was a waiter, would that be a tragedy for you? Each shortly say sure however then regroup slightly.
“You realize, perhaps I be taught a lesson right here,” says Jain. “Happiness is crucial. If my grandchild is blissful to be a waiter, first I would really like them to have good training. And if after training they need to be pleased with a waiter job . . . I simply need them to have the very best. . . .”
“To be the very best they are often at what they’re,” agrees Cohen. “The very first thing for us was at all times training, training, training, training. Then do what you need. We’ve given you that grounding, that background, after which fly with it.”
My Son the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy is on the Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St., till Dec. 10. See hgjewishtheatre.com for particulars.
On the Theatre With . . . is an occasional collection through which theatre critic Karen Fricker brings folks with specialist views to performances.