My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy

No Jewish woman in the throes of labor ever screamed, “He’s going to be a waiter!” That truism is the premise for Brad Zimmerman’s one-man show in which he uses humor and pathos in equal measure to detail his 29 years of “temporarily” waiting on tables in New York City while he waited to make it big as a comedic actor.

If you ate in New York City, Zimmerman may have waited on you. For him, success was not a new house or expensive car. His mother got to tell her friends that he was able to buy a mattress or some other non-luxury item. As with so many hopefuls, he took years of acting lessons and never gave up on his dream. In 2005, he began working on his show, which is part stand-up and part theater. He sends up his childhood, his family, his misbegotten love life and his career, which actually took a wonderful turn in 2006, when he opened for George Carlin. They became friends until Carlin’s death in 2008 and the first time Zimmerman opened for Carlin at the Paramount Theatre outside of Chicago, Carlin came up to him and said it was “really great.” Okay. Carlin used a different word than “really,” but he did say “great.”

Zimmerman went on to work with entertainers like Brad Garrett, Susie Essman, Julio Iglesias and Dennis Miller and was Joan Rivers’ opening act of choice for more than seven years. She has said that she had three great opening acts her lifetime: Billy Crystal, Gary Shandling and Brad Zimmerman.

As a reviewer in Broadway World wrote, “Brad Zimmerman is a people person. He knows how we tick and how we operate. He knows just what to serve to get the laughs and the smiles and the tears. All those years of waiting tables has shaped him into a connoisseur of satire. He has that enchanting ability to deliver a punchline with one look, giving the audience a double laugh when he actually tells us the end of the joke.”

Those who have seen Brad Zimmerman have a message for his mother. He may not be a doctor, but he has kept us in stitches. Ba-da.