A recurrent dilemma in psychoanalysis revolves around the question of when the patient is actually cured — whether treatment is, as Freud put it, terminable or interminable. In Steve Solomon’s new one-man comedy, “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m STILL in Therapy,” the latter certainly appears to be the case, and the results are nothing if not uproarious.
Solomon’s original autobiographical show, “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m in Therapy” which bills itself as “one part lasagna, one part kreplach, and two parts Prozac,” has had more than 1850 performances to date, making it one of the longest running one-man comedy shows in history.
In addition to Solomon, three other actors — Ron Tobin, Paul Kreppel, and Michael Richards (of “Seinfeld” fame) — have performed it in productions throughout the United States, Canada, and South Africa.
Directed by Andy Rogow, “Still in Therapy” gets Solomon in touch with his childhood, including life with his twin sister, “The Smoker,” and with the subsequent lunacy of mixed marriages, family vacations, childbirth, and other situations. Solomon, who plays more than two dozen characters, exploits various crises that erupted around the celebration of his father’s 85th surprise birthday party in Florida, which turned into a hilarious debacle when “The Smoker” got lost.
Solomon, who was raised in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, began doing accents at an early age, imitating the different ethnic groups in his neighborhood — and in his own family. After a stint as a physics teacher à la Gabe Kotter (played by Gabe Kaplan) in the 1970s sitcom “Welcome Back Kotter,” Solomon turned to full time comedy writing and performing.
“My family’s sole purpose was to drive me into therapy and they succeeded,” Solomon jokingly told The Jewish Week. “Then they took me to court to get my artistic license revoked.” The success of the show, he suggested, is that people relate to the characters as if they were members of their own family or communities. “They walk out of the theater saying ‘That was my uncle, my aunt, my doctor; I got stopped by that cop.’”
While Solomon is a member of MENSA, he noted that his comedy is not of the intellectual sort; an audience of fellow MENSA members sat stone-faced through one of his performances. “I don’t have any insight into my life, nothing deep or mysterious,” he confessed. Time to get back on the couch?
“My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m STILL in Therapy” runs through Aug. 31 at the Midtown Theater, 163 W. 46th St. Performances are Wednesdays through Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. For tickets, $69, call TheaterMania at (212) 352-3101 or visit www.theatermania.com.