Steve Mittleman and Peter Jung will be performing at Catch A Rising Star (located inside the Hyatt Regency) in Princeton from August 4th to the 7th. Tickets are $15. For reservations call 609-987-8018. Adult Content.
He's got one of the most recognizable faces in the business thanks to roles in major feature films like Roxanne and Radio Days, appearances on late night talk shows from David Letterman to the Tonight Show (hosted by both Jay Leno and Johnny Carson) and spots in over 50 commercials. He's comedian Steve Mittleman and he'll be coming to Catch A Rising Star in Princeton.
Mittleman has also written four feature films and a one man show entitled "At Wits End." With comedienne, ex-wife and actress Wendy Kamenoff, he co-authored the plays "Undressing New Jersey (and other states of mind)" and "Breakfast With The Mittlemans." Most recently, he has finished writing a book, which is now in the editing stage.
"It's a comedy diet book," explained Mittleman. "It's like a health related thing. I don't even like to use the word diet, but it's addressed in the book. It's something I'm passionate about. Tentatively, it's called 'A Thousand Points of Lightness.'"
He says he does less club shows these days than he used to, focusing more on corporate dates and Jewish events. His website even tells people to go one way for corporate information and another for Jewish information. The corporate gigs offer Mittleman a chance to write new material for different settings.
"I like writing material," said Mittleman. "I did one for a plastics company and I had to write jokes about plastic. But you incorporate your things into it too. It's stimulating. I love the writing."
Mittleman currently lives in Los Angeles, California but grew up in New York. This is a return trip to Catch A Rising Star for Mittleman. He's performed here two or three times before and he's glad to be coming back.
"I love doing Princeton because I'm from the East Coast," he said. "I grew up in New York. We think alike - the audience and I. So, it's like going home."
Comedy clubs have become one of the last refuges for people to escape the grasps of political correctness that we encounter every day.
"I think my material is pretty universal, but I can do more ethnic stuff when I'm on the East Coast; more of the Jewish stuff, more of the Italian stuff, more stuff about growing up in New York. It's more relatable there. So, I get to bring out material that I haven't done in while that suits that crowd.
"I think in the world that we're living in today, it's just a great escape. You can't beat it!"
Mittleman has appeared in over 50 national commercials, including spots for Pizza Hut, Federal Express and Kelloggs. Many of these spots have run during events like the Super Bowl and World Series giving him exposure other people can only dream about. Between the commercials and the cult phenomenon of Roxanne, he's known throughout the world.
"Roxanne was certainly a highlight," said Mittleman. "And I worked with Woody Allen in Radio Days. I got cut to pieces for the film, but I worked about two weeks on that movie. That was great. Every individual thing that I've done has its highlights. There was a commercial that I did where I got to adlib. And, to me, out of 50 commercials that was the highlight of commercials. It was for Bell South. I played a bad blind date so when they had the caller ID they could see it was me."
Digging into Mittleman's past comes up with a performance on the old television show "Star Search." Mittleman went up against a young Rosie O'Donnell who had won several shows in a row. He was interviewed on "20/20" a few years ago for a segment on people that beat big stars on "Star Search." When asked if he's ever surprised by the lasting power his appearance on that show has he replied, "I am amazed by it, but Rosie became a big star and more power to her. When I beat her, she was so grateful to have just lost. I think she had run out of material!"
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.