“The world would be a better place if everyone would just do what I say!” Annie Korzen Famous Actress announces as she begins her one-woman show detailing the traumas and triumphs of her colorful life.
As a “Jewish comedienne” Korzen’s performance encompasses all the quirks and mishegas that Jewish comics (and especially Jewish mothers) are heir to. She can be a world-class kvetch, a notorious yenta, or a keen observer of everybody’s mistakes and failures. And Korzen does it all, brilliantly!
The title of her show describes her ambitions. She always anticipated becoming a “Famous Actress”, but her most visible and satisfying role turned out to be as a recurring nudnik, Doris Klompus, on Jerry Seinfeld’s spectacularly successful TV show.
Also her most rewarding role, she confesses. Although she only had a few lines on each episode in which she appeared, the endless repeats of the series provides her with residuals that have risen to a nice sizable amount so far.
Revealing an unexpected modesty, she doesn’t mention her many successful appearances on other TV shows, in off-Broadway theater, and in films such as “Tootsie”, “Stardust Memories”, and “Nobody’s Perfect”, which she co-wrote.
Instead, she tells of the producer who was looking for “an Annie Korzen type” for one of his shows. So she auditioned for the part. But she didn’t get it because she was deemed “too Jewish,” and he hired a perky little blonde instead.
Nevertheless, she always had an Oscar or Emmy acceptance speech at the ready — just in case. And she expresses amazement at the stars who actually win the awards and then fumble their way through an incoherent thank you speech. After all, she says, “they had all that time to prepare!”
Being “prepared” didn’t win her an Oscar, but her dry humor and witty one-liners won her Bennie Korzen, a Danish film producer whom she met and married in Denmark. And with this introduction she enters the section of her rambling discourse which records her perceived failures as a domesticated wife and mother.
For one thing, she didn’t like children. They’re messy, noisy, and exhausting, she thought, and the birth of her son Johnathan didn’t change her opinion. She fell into a postpartum depression so severe that she was hospitalized and put in the care of a Jewish psychiatrist who plied her with platitudes and homilies. She called him “Tevye the Shrink.”
(Korzen identifies herself as a “secular Jew” and then pauses to wonder why there don’t seem to be any “secular Baptists.”)
At any rate, once cured, she warmed up to her son and spent his childhood and adulthood advising him on everything, as a Jewish mother is meant to do. Although, of course, there were some glitches along the way: she identifies “feeding your baby” as “child abuse.” And adds, “I would pay extra for a house without a kitchen.”
Eventually Johnathan grew up, married, and took a job in London. Soon recognizing that Jewish traditions were virtually unknown in London, he would make up his own holidays, taking a vacation after explaining to his bosses that he “had to spend the first five days of Kishka with his parents.”
Back in America, Johnathan and his wife precipitated a crisis for Korzen when they decided, at the age of 45, to adopt a baby. After investigating the possibility of adopting a child from several different countries, they flew to Florida to pick up the baby they had chosen: an adorable little black munchkin. (When Korzen projected a photograph of him on the wall behind her, the entire audience, with one voice, emitted a long “Awwwww.”)
And so Annie Korzen, the “failed” mother, as she called herself, became the compleat grandmother. She “kvelled” with delight over this darling baby boy and reflected that many times when she had thought she was on the brink of disaster, the dreaded experience that she had wanted to avoid turned out to be one of the highlights of her life.
In closing, she shared with the audience her hard-won prescription for how to live a happy and fulfilling life:
Open Your Mind
Shut Your Mouth
and Keep Saying Yes.
Annie Korzen Famous Actress is appearing under the auspices of the Jewish Women’s Theatre at their home at The Braid, 2912 Colorado Ave. #102 in Santa Monica, every Thursday and Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 2 and 5pm through August 13.
For tickets call 800-838 3006 or www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.