Actor and comedian Brad Zimmerman paid his dues for 29 years waiting tables in New York “temporarily,” while chasing his dream of a comedy and acting career. His one-man show, “My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy,” focuses on his pursuit as well as stories about his childhood, family and Ill-fated love life.
The production is showing in Atlanta at the 7 Stages Theatre in Little Five Points from May 18 through June 18. Ahead of his stop in town, Zimmerman chatted with the AJT.
AJT: What was the inspiration behind “My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy”?
Zimmerman: As far as inspiration for My Son the Waiter, in 2005 some customer where I was working said if I ever wanted to do another one man show he would produce it. That really was the inspiration, as I had done a few one-person shows and felt that I was done with that particular genre, but once I started working on it, it became more and more of a passion to the point that I sort of put my marbles in a bag. In other words, I felt that if I had any chance to advance my career, this one-person show was it. I worked on it periodically over eight years and it was seen by the producers in 2013. The day after they saw it, they offered to purchase the touring rights to the show. So, the inspiration was really getting it better and better in order to make it a viable commercial product.
AJT: What made you finally decide to quit waiting tables and pursue acting/comedy full time?
Zimmerman: I stopped waiting tables in 2007. I shouldn’t have stopped, but the restaurant where I was working closed for repairs and I took this as a sign that it was my time to end my waiting career. Well, five years later I was broke and returned to waiting but only for a few months because some manager saw a promo video of the show and booked me for a three-week run at Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, Florida. The show was extended for four months during which my producers saw the show and that made it possible to end my career as a server!!!
AJT: Any funny stories from the road?
Zimmerman: Fun stories on the road… The most fun I have is working with peers. We share a common bond. We live in the unknown never knowing when the phone will ring with an offer to do comedy. This is a very strong bond amongst us performers, but once I was working with George Carlin, and doing very well, when a guy in the audience yelled out, “We want George.” Thank g-d the rest of the audience and I were in sync in terms of our distaste for the interruption, so I took a moment to regain my composure and continued on. Then, at one point I said, “Oh by the way, that guy who yelled out ‘We want George,’, that was my dad!”
AJT: Why do you think there are so many Jewish comedians?
Zimmerman: Why are there so many Jewish comedians? How should I know… We have the makeup to be comedians. We are anxiety prone, we have depression issues, we are angry, we are survivors and we are smart. We see life from a unique perspective. We are superior to other religious groups, and of course, we have Jewish mothers. If it took Proust six volumes to write Remembrance of Things Past, it would take me seven to write MY MOTHER DOESNT WANT ME TO BE HAPPY. SHE WANTS ME TO JUMP OFF A BRIDGE.
AJT: Who are a few of your comedy influences?
Zimmerman: No comedic influences. I started when I was 42 years old. No one inspired me, but I favor the old Catskill comics who could tell a joke like it was art. I loved Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles, Bill Cosby, etc. I like comedians who are emotionally driven — a lot of great comedians are material driven. I like the ones who talk from the heart. The ones who let us into their lives.