Review: Italian, Jewish and ‘Home for the Holidays,’ both of them

Steve Solomon is performing his own “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, I’m Home for the Holidays” at Delaware Theatre Company, so you get not only the show but its creator. I’m not saying that the three other performers doing the show in various cities are not good – I’ve never seen them. But I am saying this: After the first time seeing Solomon and his work, I’d be happy to see him in anything.

He is, it turns out, the Everyman of stand-up comedians. There’s no angry young jokester, or weird persona, or man on the edge – just Solomon with a two-act stand-up show of one-liners and anecdotal bits, pure and simple. His set-ups are easy, and his delivery is so matter-of-fact you’d think he was talking directly with you, the rest of the audience be damned.

 

His show is the follow-up to a show about his mom being Italian, his dad being Jewish and him being in therapy. Solomon is a savvy marketer – this holiday show has little to do with the holidays. It takes place at the lobby-gate of an airline in Atlanta, where Solomon is stuck because all the flights have been cancelled. He’s on his way to his folk’s new place in Florida to celebrate both Christmas (his mom) and Chanukah (his dad) and is responsible for picking up a cake once he gets there. But the best-laid plans…

And that’s pretty much the extent of the holiday theme, giving Solomon the freedom to riff with us as he waits to see whether his flight will be rescheduled. Solomon, a portly man who says in the act that he’s 50, immediately draws you in – you don’t need any reason to be there with him, and he never tries to give you one. His one-sided conversation seems natural except in one respect – it’s a hoot.

Some of his jokes are old-fashioned. (His ex-wife, he says, tells him she has a mind to poison his egg-nog. He shoots back that he has a mind to drink it.) Some of them are self-deprecating, comedy-room style. (“I’ve had so many blind dates I should get a free dog.”) And some are edgy descriptions of his extended family. (His grandma bought a bikini for a cruise, but returned the top because everything fit into the bottom.)

Solomon is so down-to-earth that his humor rarely seems like trash talk, the basis of many comedians’ jokes, even though it may be. He starts off with terrible tales of air travel, segues from that into large people who’ve sat beside him, then moves into the good-old days versus now, his family’s quirks and other territory that may be familiar – but Solomon puts his own spin on it, under Andy Rogow’s direction. After the curtain call, he told Wednesday’s matinee audience that he wanted to do the Delaware gig himself because in his first show there, he realized “you get it.” They sure got it Wednesday, and so did I.

 

“My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, I’m Home for the Holidays” runs through Dec. 21 at Delaware Theatre Company, 200 Water St., Wilmington. 302-594-1100 or www.delawaretheatre.org.

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