Don’t call the whole thing off
Published: Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 12:41 p.m.
Coming off a fraught and fractious election season, one would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks that more arguing is a good thing.
‘You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!’
What: A comedic play about love and marriage
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Jan. 11; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12
Where: Squitieri Studio Theatre, Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 3201 Hull Road
Tickets: $20 for Tuesday’s performance, $25 for Wednesday through Jan. 12; $10 for UF students
Info: 392-2787, www.
Remarkably, Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn are two people who think just that. Perhaps more remarkably, they are married to each other.
In 2010, Gurwitch and Kahn wrote a book about the ups and downs of love and marriage called “You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story.” Soon after, they developed the book into a stage show, which became so popular they had to hire actors to portray them in the touring version of the show.
The touring show hits the Phillips Center’s Squitieri Studio Theatre on Tuesday and runs through Jan. 12
While their take on marriage might seem to go against conventional wisdom, it seems to be working. Gurwitch and Kahn have been married for 15 years.
“Instead of going to therapy, just have a good old fight over good food,” Gurwitch says. “It’s important that there be good food.”
“Arguing is natural,” Kahn adds.
Gurwitch and Kahn are both actors and writers with some luminous credits, including the cult classic “The Ben Stiller Show” and the hit movie “The 40-Year Old Virgin.” In other words, they are used to the world of show business, a world that often seems at odds with the vows of marriage. The two worked on the book separately, but once the stage show started, it forced them to write and act together.
“It made it way harder,” Gurwitch says. “One of the things I always liked about our relationship is that we did different things. Joining our businesses together, it was very challenging. It’s like any family business. It’s like opening the shoe store.”
Kahn quickly adds, “Yeah but if it was a shoe store, I would have made the right shoe, and she would have made the wrong one.”
“Very funny,” Gurwitch deadpans.
That sort of repartee seems to come quite naturally to the couple. They clearly have developed a strong sense of rhythm and tone, either through their marriage or through the process of developing and acting in the show — or perhaps both.
“I learned something through this process,” Gurwitch says, to which Kahn quickly retorts, “I didn’t learn anything.”
“Jeff didn’t, but I did,” Gurwitch continues, unfazed. “The romance gets you so far, and then you have this choice you have to make about whether you’re going to stay together. That to me is really what is happening in the play version of our book. They make a choice on their 10th anniversary that they’re going to stay together. They’re just going to accept that they have differences and go for it.”
It should come as no surprise that Kahn has a different take.
“I have a totally different opinion,” he says. “I realized that people can be in the same place at the same time, even in the same marriage, and have different experiences. I find that people can fall out of love and then back in love. There’s something about that person that is so compelling to you.”
Clearly, Gurwitch and Kahn have that sort of connection. And, one reason for the show’s success is surely the fact that there is love at its core. But, another reason is the fact that it is an honest love — one that recognizes, discusses and maybe even celebrates how difficult and miserable love can be.
“One of my favorite responses to the show was in Albany,” Gurwitch says. “This woman came up to us and said, ‘I came here on a date tonight and I was thinking about breaking up with this guy because we have some issues, but after seeing this, maybe we’re not so bad.”
Who could argue with that?