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How To Profit From Your Family

Busboys & Poets @ 5th & K Remaining Performance:

July 11 @ 10 pm

They Say: “A woman. A stage. An eccentric family. Follow an amateur’s humorous attempts to put together a 2009 Fringe show. It has a happy ending. She made dozens of dollars. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry…well, you’ll probably just laugh.”

Adam’s Take: We need stories. Life would be so dull without them. There would be no way to relate to each other. And there would be no reason for a stranger to get up onstage and tell an audience what’s on her mind.

Cigdem Oktem has plenty of reason to tell us. Her clever musings about her family—in both her native Istanbul and the U.S.—provide a unique backdrop for reflection on one’s own family and the stories we all have, even if we hate to share them. We hear of her schoolteacher aunt who travels across Turkey in a minibus, her father’s collection of Turkish shadow puppets, and her sister who becomes exasperated during a tour of a southern plantation.

Moments in the piece are funny and charming. But too often talks of the Oktems are edged out by other material that provides some laughs but risks masking over the best of what she has to offer. Celebrities and the theories of Sheena Iyengar may be fun to chat about at cocktail parties, or could  make good material for a monologue when the performer has nothing else to say.   But Oktem finds her richest material, and is most at ease as a performer, talking about her family. Unfortunately, these stories comprised less than half of her performance.

We are in a recession. For her next show, Oktem should stay focused on her family to reap even greater profits.

See It If: The only reason family members exist to you is to provide comedic relief.

Skip It If: You believe family is too sacred to be denigrated in public.