The Regent Theatre
7 Medford Street
April 23rd – May 25th, 2014
Regent Theatre on Facebook
Review by Craig Idlebrook
(Arlington) In the opening moments of his one-man show, Brad Zimmerman tells a joke where a man eggs his girlfriend on to do a near striptease for a gorilla at the zoo before throwing her into the cage to face a certain and painful death. Why? She doesn’t give him enough sex. The show just goes downhill from there.
I can’t say for sure how far down it goes, since I left halfway through the show. I suppose there’s always the miraculous chance that Zimmerman reforms at the end and realizes that he’s offensive and not God’s gift to the Earth and stage, but I doubt it. One would need a modicum of self-awareness to have that happen, and Zimmerman is content being the ruler of his own little world.
The show, whose title suggests it could be a heartwarming tale of a Jewish family, instead is a stand-up routine with Brad telling us how terrible people are. Women get the lion’s share of his bile, as he seems to believe he is stuck in a 1982 sitcom script, where you can simply make fun of women for their femininity and that is enough to elicit laughs. But really, Zimmerman can’t stand everyone, including a poor couple on the plane who had the audacity to enjoy airplane food. There is an uncomfortable paranoia about his rant, as he really believes people are just trying to piss him off. This is most pronounced when he decides to rip into a woman who dared to have a happy phone conversation about her upcoming honeymoon in front of him on a bus, which Zimmerman believes she did solely to make him feel bad. Dude, it’s not all about you.
Offensive humor can be funny, and I think I have more than an average tolerance for the stuff. I am one of the few people who sat through Movie 43 and laughed until I had tears in my eyes. This movie, a collection of skits done by visibly embarrassed A-list actors, featured cat-killing, Chinese reassignment surgery, a fairy kept as a sex slave, and a man with testicles for a chin. (As I write this, I am uncomfortable admitting that I enjoyed the movie.) And in standup, abrasiveness is an art form with many masters, including Denis Leary, Andrew Dice Clay, and the late Sam Kinison. While not everyone can agree that Dice Clay and Kinison were funny (my 13-year-old self says yes, while the adult cringes), everyone can agree they had passion, timing, and talent.
Unfortunately, Zimmerman has none of these. It’s like watching a character actor from Law and Order give an overlong speech at a wedding. The few times he was able to pull a smile out of me, he dissipated the goodwill by holding for laughter way too long. And it’s clear that this act was polished until all life was left out of it, as evidenced by his arm movements, which were incredibly rigid, so much so that I spent the first 10 minutes of the show wondering if he was partially paralyzed. Then he switched arms and it all became clear…
I should have known I was in trouble as an audience member when I opened up the program. Never before had I seen a bio filled with accolades about the show I’m about to watch and the talent, as if the program writer were worried we were an uncertain audience that would still attempt to bolt once the lights went down. It actually was kind of funny.