‘My Son the Waiter: a Jewish Tragedy’ opens
Photo: Michael D. Appelton
Brad Zimmerman waited tables 29 years while awaiting his big break in entertainment.

Cool laughs at refreshing Eisemann

By Shari G. Stern

While laughing your tuchas off, you may want to scream “Such a mechaya!” as Brad Zimmerman serves up his outrageous performance of “My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy” July 6–30. Take a sweater if needed for your personal comfort while ACs run comfortably (or full blast) at the Charles W. Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson. The one-man show is 90 minutes of fresh, engaging wit. 

Kenehora, you don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate the humor. We all experience the joy of having a mother at some point, right? Most mothers kvell over their children, don’t they? However, if you happen to be Jewish, you will plotz over how close to home this story resonates.

It will be apparent in the first five minutes that Zimmerman had you at “Your order, please.” The artist’s delivery is authentic. You could be the guy standing next to him on a too-crowded elevator or his best friend while schmoozing over plain, black coffee at Starbucks or his first — and final — date with his mother’s hairstylist’s niece; you’re going to be happier than before you arrived. You will probably be schmoozing excitedly long after the curtain, as you exit to the Eisemann’s warmish parking lot and slide gratefully into your air-conditioned car.

Through an irreverent series of biographical, self-deprecating anecdotes, Zimmerman talks to the audience about himself, his mother and their meshugenah relationship. He describes the farklempt life of a single man who works “temporarily” as a waiter for 29 years while seeking juicy acting roles in New York. Show of hands, who hasn’t waited tables or doesn’t know someone who has while awaiting a more acceptable opportunity? It’s a farblóndzet culture itself. 

Mom is aggravated that her son’s not interested in joining his father selling furniture for a living. This is a constant source of tsouris between them. But despite his mother’s noodging, she still kvells over her son, the waiter. In his story, Zimmerman covers his “rise to the middle.” 

Photo: Courtesy Brad Zimmerman
Brad Zimmerman engages the audience with his hilarious “My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy,” at the Eisemann through July 30.

After working 29 years perfecting waiting tables, the professional waitstaff member is rounding out his career in entertainment. He finds himself writing, starring and touring in “My Son the Waiter: a Jewish Tragedy” while his mother does her own style of happy dance. This talented guy has carved out his own entertainment niche.

His mother tells him about her hairstylist’s son’s accomplishments and her manicurist’s nephew who had hair transplants. She said she would pay for that if he wanted it. He told her “Nah. I want to grow my own hair. I don’t want to be asked, ‘Where did you get that?’” That’s only the beginning of the progressively balding comic’s hair jokes. He has some doozies.

According to the career-waiter, a guy “walks up to a Jewish mother. He says, ‘I haven’t eaten in three days.’ She answers, ‘Force yourself.’”

When “My son…” played at the Eisemann in 2018, a Dallas couple agreed on their take of the show: “My face hurts from laughing,” she said. “I was laughing so hard at his story about the ‘stuttering prostitute’ I had to ask my husband what I missed in the next line.”

It would seem this artist has risen far beyond the middle. The sadly missed, legendary Joan Rivers said, “I’ve had three great openings in my lifetime: Billy Crystal, Garry Shandling and Brad Zimmerman.” The funny man opened for Ms. Rivers for eight years. Additionally, he’s opened for favorites including Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), Susie Essman (“Curb your Enthusiasm”), Dennis Miller and Julio Iglesias; he opened for George Carlin for two years before Carlin’s death in 2008. 

Garrett said, “Zimmerman’s one-man show is a must-see. It’s hysterical, heartfelt, timely and poignant. I laughed. I cried. I forgot where I parked.”

Zimmerman has appeared in both television and film, most notably playing Johnny Sack’s lawyer in one of the highest acclaimed shows of all time, “The Sopranos.”

“So many fan letters and marriage proposals over the years,” Zimmerman said with a grin during an interview for his last Dallas tour. “It’s amazing that I’m still very much single. But my late mom, Barbara in Boca, became as proud as she could of me and the show and of course every time I visited, I got another 15 minutes of material! She once asked me, ‘What are you going to do when I’m gone?’ I said, ‘Sell the house.’”

Barbara finally adapted to her “actor-waiter” son’s career choice and financial situation. While other mothers may kvell about their doctor or lawyer sons, she once bragged, “If all goes well, I think Brad is going to buy a bookcase.”

“My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy” runs July 6-30. Showtimes are: evening performances at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. To check times and order tickets by phone, call 972-744-4650. The Eisemann Center for Performing Arts is located at 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson. For more information about “My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy,” visit www.mysonthewaiter.com.

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