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CPH’s ‘Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End’ is comic gold

Simply mention the name, Erma Bombeck, and many will smile with a gentle recollection of her many columns and books. Hers was an easy humor that captured the essence of life in the post World War II suburban era. Above all things, Erma was a devoted wife to her husband, Bill, and loving mother to children Matthew, Betsy and Andrew.

She was the most highly syndicated author with her columns appearing in 900 newspapers across the country. She published 15 books which most became best sellers. In all, Bombeck wrote over 4,000 newspaper columns with over 30 million readers. In spite of the fame and adulation of a loving army of fans she was a quiet and reserved person much like her style of writing. She was also a champion to the Equal Rights Amendment which fell three states short of passing.

Currently on stage in the Outcalt Theatre at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio is the production of Allison and Margaret Engel’s “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” starring Pam Sherman. This one woman laugh fest hits high on the LPS (Laugh Per Second) scale. The gentle self-effacing humor is easily relatable. The only complaint is that the show is only 60 minutes long and that hour flies by way too fast.

We learn of Erma’s upbringing and early life. She talks of her dreams of becoming a world renowned traveling correspondent that changes drastically with her marriage, the birth of her first son and her move to the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio. Taking the challenges of post war suburban life with her husband and young family as inspiration she used her razor sharp wit to weave tales of life in the burbs.

In a word, Pam Sherman IS Erma Bombeck. A little bit frumpy and frustrated by the daily battle against the unseen family who “appears” as background noise. She delights the audience with diamonds of wisdom hewn from the granite found and mined in her own back yard. There is no profanity. There is just a light twitter of talk about sex...and there are line after line of comic gems that the older generation grew up on.

It is good to have shows like this make their way to the theater where folks can sit back and relax to the gentle humor of a comic master. This is one show you should not miss.

The Cleveland Play house production of “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” will be on stage in the Outcalt Theatre at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio through August 20, 2023. For more information and tickets go to or call (216) 241-6000.


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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