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Growing Up With Uncle Miltie

As a young girl growing up in New York City, Patt Benson dreamed of making her mark in show business. Thanks to a combination of luck, talent and an unlikely friendship with a big name-celebrity, she succeeded. In her charming solo outing, Benson recounts her arduous journey, from Manhattan schoolgirl to Hollywood celebrity with the help of the redoubtable Milton Berle. By turns humorous and poignant, she tells of a childhood marred by the occasional drunken outbursts and abuse by her father and how her mother tolerated them, her time in parochial school and her budding desire to be a comedian, one nurtured by her mother. Her first encounter with Berle happened in the fall 1953, while she was on the way to tap-dancing class. Gradually, she became something of his protégé, showing up on his TV show, earning his respect and admiration, and like all the eventual Hollywood lottery winners whose persistence pays off, snagging a plum role in the sitcom Joe & Valerie. Benson packs a lot of material into this short piece, and the narrative has more than a few confusing gaps, but her writing is heartfelt and at times deeply evocative -- descriptions of New York City, for instance, offer alluring images. Rich Embardo directs. Improv Comedy Lab, 8162 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through November 22. (323) 651-2583.
Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Oct. 18. Continues through Nov. 22, 2009


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