It's been said that there's no accounting for taste. Which might account for why I sat in silence through "My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm in Therapy!" while most of those around me laughed out loud. Some offered a standing ovation at the not-soon-enough end. I, too, stood -- to reach for my keys.
The level of humor delivered at Theatre Three by Stony Brook native Peter Fogel in the role of Steve, originated by Steve Solomon, the creator of this solo stand-up shtick, is crude and cruder. Think Farrelly Brothers ("Dumb and Dumber"), except that the so-called jokes are more geriatric than adolescent. Indeed, when Fogel asked his appreciative audience if anyone among them had been to Woodstock, no one raised a hand or shouted, "Right on!" This crowd turned me, a baby boomer senior citizen, into a comparative youth. Perhaps that's why the majority related to this rambling, Borscht Belt-like declamation of scatological and post-sexual facts of life. (Is that what I can look forward to? Bodily functions malfunctioning?) Repeated references to flatulence provoked guffaws. As for sex: "Marriage is like a bank account. You put it in, you take it out. Then you lose interest."
The thin premise for this would-be yukfest, spun on an elaborate set that travels with "Therapy" on tour, is Steve's two-hour wait for his therapist to show up for their weekly appointment. If only he or she materialized, there might be some comic tension. Instead, we listen to "Steve" kvetch aimlessly about his parents' "mixed marriage" and Papa's neutral solution for everything -- Chinese food -- leading to insulting riffs at the expense of Asian-Americans.
Fogel, who exhibits a talent for accents and nonverbal utterances, spans three generations and continents in imitative salute to his forebears. A rare moment of connection comes, and quickly passes, when Steve plays a tune he wrote for Bubbe on the piano.
"Therapy" represents a midseason departure from Theatre Three's subscription season. The show, which has enjoyed a touring afterlife since its two-year Off-Broadway run starting in 2006, is performed eight times a week with ticket prices about double the norm for Theatre Three. Will the experiment pay off? Sometimes, there's no accounting for success.
WHEN | WHERE 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays; 7 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays through May 10, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson
TICKETS $44-$49; 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com