The Jewish comedian

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ed Metzger as Albert Einstein performs in his one-man show, “Ed Metzger as Einstein: The Practical Bohemian.” The show will come to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on March 19 at 8 p.m.

Ed Metzger has been impersonating Albert Einstein for more than three decades.

He has the crazy hair down. He’s mastered the absent-minded professor look. And he has taken great pains to emulate Einstein’s personality exactly.

“When we decided we wanted to do this show, we knew we had to construct something about the man personally,” Metzger said. “Leave the science to the professors at the universities and let them deal with it.”

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Metzger will bring his Einstein act to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on March 19. Attendees will find it a fascinating insight into the man behind the theory of relativity, rather than a throwback to college physics, Metzger said.

“We constructed the show basically so that it’s not a science lecture,” Metzger said. “It’s about the family, the man, the many problems he encountered.”

When Metzger first began his research on Einstein, he didn’t find much information on his personality.

“At the time, everything was scientific on the man,” Metzger said. “It just really drove me berserk.”

To gain some insight into what Einstein was really like, Metzger tracked down Einstein’s older son, Hans Albert Einstein, and interviewed him.

As he was leaving at the end of the interview, Metzger recalled, the younger Einstein gave him his most valuable piece of information.

“’There’s one thing I want to tell you about my father,’” Metzger recalled Hans Einstein saying. “’Nobody knows about it, and it’s hard to believe, but my father looked at himself as a Jewish comedian. Whenever my father had a dinner party, he would go to his favorite book, called “100 Best Jewish Jokes.”’”

Metzger took that tidbit and ran with it. Along with Einstein’s famous getup — the wild hair, sweaters with holes in them and sneakers with no socks — Metzger added the personality that he learned about from Einstein’s son.

He also learned that Einstein dressed the way he did because he didn’t want to wear fancy clothes in front of students whose parents were spending their last dollars to send their children to Princeton.

“The fallacy with that is the students always dressed better than he did, anyway,” Metzger said.

Of course, the show does incorporate some scientific elements, “but just enough so that you understand where his mind jumped off from,” Metzger said.

Metzger also relishes anecdotes about Einstein being asked for autographs by movie stars; receiving a ticker-tape parade in New York City after he won the Nobel Prize; and what happened after he told his wife that he wanted a “larger window into the universe.”

“The human nature of the man comes out so strongly,” Metzger said. “We touch science, because that’s where the man’s popularity led.”

“Ed Metzger as Einstein: The Practical Bohemian” will begin at the SCCA March 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. To purchase, call 923-2900 or visit