“Gleefully wacky and irreverent.”

–The New York Times

“Line by line, Mr. Rudnick may be the funniest writer for the stage in the United States today.”

–The New York Times

“Deeply funny musings and adventures elevate Paul Rudnick to the highest level of American comedy writing.”

–Steve Martin

“One of the funniest quip-meisters on the planet.”

–The New York Times

“Paul Rudnick is a champion of truth (and love and great wicked humor) whom we ignore at our peril.”

–David Sedaris

“Quips fall with the regularity of the autumn leaves.”

–Associated Press

Month: June 2014

June 30, 2014

My Heroes


Whoever invented, and more importantly whoever named trail mix. Google tells us that many surfers, Danish people and food companies claim to have invented this blend of peanuts, raisins and M&Ms, which you can buy in pillow-sized bags at Costco. Most significant is the name: eating something called “trail mix” allows me to feel as if I’m off on an invigorating mountainside hike, doing something good for myself, instead of devouring an incredibly addictive, high calorie dessert, while sitting in the car on the way home from Costco.

Those two lesbians I saw yesterday on Varick Street: while they were young and able-bodied, one of them was pushing the other one in a wire shopping cart, as the woman in the cart waved a rainbow flag. I want this image to be cast in life-sized bronze and displayed next to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, as a gay Iwo Jima.

The crews who clean up the streets of New York remarkably quickly after any parade, once the celebrants have left behind their mounds of plastic cups, burrito wrappers, empty water bottles and much, much worse.

Whoever invented duct tape: the perfect solution to so many home decorating challenges and relationship issues. It’s just not a fully realized couch without duct tape. Here’s a couch made of duct tape:


Amy Schumer. There are so many aspiring comics and improv people on Youtube, and my mind wanders after three seconds of their videos. Amy S. goes the distance, and I’m so glad she’s making a movie.

Spike Lee, for his terrific movies, and because I just watched him being interviewed for the 25th anniversary of his classic “Do The Right Thing”, and he explained that the opening sequence, of Rosie Perez dancing, was inspired by the opening of “Bye, Bye Birdie”, where Ann-Margret, on a bare soundstage, sings the title tune.

June 29, 2014



I can’t remember when I marched in my first gay pride parade, since there have been a batch.
I always enjoy waiting for the more conservative elements of the gay community
to complain about the drag queens and the leathermen, and about how these folks “hurt our
cause.” I like to picture the ideal, mainstream parade, with neat rows of blonde caucasians
wearing Brooks Brothers suits and carrying matching attache cases with discreet rainbow

One of my favorite pride parades occured during the year when my play Jeffrey had moved
for a commercial off-broadway run. The show had a float in the parade, with the cast riding
a bedecked flatbed truck. That was also the year when I met John, who would become my
partner and the love of my life, so it was an especially memorable parade.

Lately the NYC parade has grown younger and more diverse, which is wonderful. Marchers
arrive from all over the world. Since I live near the parade route, my block is
always all parked up, with the cars of marchers from out of town. These marchers will
often push their cars’ seats back and take naps during the day, so the block becomes
like a slumbering gay nursery.

Here’s some Sylvester, because it just wouldn’t be Gay Pride Day without Sylvester.

June 28, 2014

Mary Rodgers Guettel


Sometimes it seemed as if everyone in New York, if not the world, knew Mary Guettel, who died earlier this week. As Mary Rodgers, she wrote the music and lyrics for the classic musical Once Upon A Mattress, and she’s revered by the countless fans of her Young Adult novels, which include Freaky Friday, Summer Switch and A Billion for Boris. Mary was passionately involved with the city’s cultural life, writing and producing on Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts, and as the Chairwoman of the board of the Juilliard School from 1994 to 2001. She was the daughter of reknowned composer Richard Rodgers (South Pacific, Carousel, The King and I, and many more) and she’s the mother of composer/lyricist Adam Guettel, who wrote the superb Light in the Piazza and Floyd Collins, among other works.
I met Mary through her daughter Kim, who’s a true and irresistible charmer, and a sensational artist; talent clearly runs in this family. The women in Kim’s family all have strong personalities, which makes for the very best and most rigorous conversations – you have to be smart and you have to be ready. Mary was curious about everything, and she’d share her opinions; she had great style, and she was wonderfully supportive, especially of young people pursuing careers in the arts, myself, years ago, included. Mary’s second husband was Henry Guettel, who was the Executive Director of the Theater Development Fund, and I’d always run into them at the theater. Running into Mary and Hank was a treat, because they always looked great, and they could make you feel that Manhattan was an enchanted island, populated entirely by bright, funny people who could talk about anything, from the latest, quirkiest off-broadway flop to whatever had just erupted in Washington.
Like Nora Ephron, Wendy Wasserstein and so many more, Mary made her way in a world that wasn’t always welcoming to such brilliant women. They worked tremendously hard, and they became touchstones, emblems of success and panache and generosity. Mary will be missed, and tonight they’re dimming the lights on Broadway, just before curtain time, in her honor.

June 27, 2014

Hook Me Up


The NY Times Science section recently discussed a study by German scientists, in which writers were hooked up to a scanner which could measure their brain activity as they scribbled. The subject would lie on his or her back with a helmet of machinery over their heads, and their writing arm would be propped up on a little stack of pillows, while they wrote short fiction on a sort of easel. From what I could tell, the process resembled writing with your head inside a microwave oven, although I did like the pillows.

The study covered both non-professional writers and students in a highly competitive creative writing program. The scientists concluded that, “Deep inside the brains of experienced writers, a region called the caudate nucleus became active. In the novices, the caudate nucleus was quiet.” This area of the brain, the scientists decided, “plays an essential role in the skill that comes with practice, including activities like board games.”

First off, I have a few questions:

Were the subjects in this study allowed to eat Ruffles Reduced Fat Potato Chips With Sea Salt out of the bag while they wrote?

Did any of the subjects scrawl the words “Get that thing off my head” over and over again?

After the study was over, did the subjects from the highly competitive creative writing program immediately demand to critique each others’ brain waves? Did they say things like, “Oh look, even Gunter’s brain waves are derivative” or “Helga’s brain waves are always only about her, and her mother.”

The study was mostly a waste of time and resources, because if the scientists had contacted me, I could tell them precisely what goes on deep within any writer’s caudate nucleus. Here’s what all writers are thinking, during the creative process:

“I’ve almost finished a whole paragraph, I don’t want to wear myself out.”

“I wonder what Jonathan Franzen is doing right now? I wonder how much his advance is for his next book?”

“I should go work out, so that when I come back I’ll have a fresh perspective and I can really get some work done.”

“I should go eat something, because I know that Melville said he couldn’t write a word if he had low blood sugar.”

“I should take a nap, because maybe an idea for a bestseller, or at least a critically acclaimed collection of short stories, will come to me in a dream.”

“If I fall asleep right now, will this machine think I’m dead, or just untalented?”

“Maybe I should write a book about a writer who’s hooked up to a machine. Which turns him into a vampire.”

“Why can’t they make a machine that would do the actual writing for me? Does Danielle Steele have a machine like that?”

“Writing is really hard. I wish I was a coal miner. Coal miners never have to come up with a killer opening sentence.”

“What if there’s a catastrophic mechanical accident, and this machine fries my brain? That would be so cool, because then I could stop writing.”

June 26, 2014

Get Over Yourself



Over twenty years ago, we had all sorts of trouble casting the initial off-broadway production of my play Jeffrey, a comedy focusing on a group of gay men at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Many agents and managers warned their clients not to even consider the play; one especially toxic agent told her actors that if they appeared in Jeffrey, they would never work again. Among the many reasons I will always treasure that original cast is their fearlessness: they ignored the warnings, and gave superb performances, and their careers blossomed (that cast included John Michael Higgins, Tom Hewitt, Bryan Batt, Edward Hibbert and Harriet Harris.)

Today I read about a couple of, shall we say, less than bright TV actors. One of these guys gave an interview about how, even though he was playing a gay character on a TV series, he had enormous problems kissing men; then he patted himself on the back for getting on with such a terrible task. Another young moron has left the cast of HBO’s True Blood, because his character was becoming involved in a gay relationship. HBO blessedly refused to back down. Among my questions is this: had this second actor ever watched True Blood, which is an extremely gay-friendly show, created by a brilliant, gay, Oscar-winning screenwriter and director, and being aired on the network which brought us, among many other fantastic shows with gay leading characters, Six Feet Under, Looking and The Normal Heart?

Some observations:

When actors play gay roles, especially straight actors, they tend to win awards – William Hurt got an Oscar for playing a windowdresser in Kiss of the Spiderwoman. The smart actors tend to pursue gay roles, because the stories are often fresher. The smarter actors also refuse to distance themselves from their characters, by making endless references to their wives and children in interviews.

Being an openly gay actor brings a certain set of challenges, because an actor’s personal life is scrutinized by the media. Happily, there are now many proudly gay actors, who are photographed everywhere with their spouses and often their kids. Fans love having access to a star’s romantic life, and these fans are equally happy to devour a People magazine cover story on Ellen’s wedding to Portia, or a photo of the gifted screenwriter Dustin Lance Black kissing his boyfriend, the Olympic swimmer Tom Daley.

For years, every time an actor came out, the naysayers would still claim that audiences would never respond to a gay leading man. This is, of course, nonsense: Matt Bomer has been playing a straight heartthrob for years on White Collar, and Jim Parsons heads the cast of The Big Bang Theory, the most popular sitcom on TV right now. News programming and the most successful morning shows are filled with terrific and beloved gay personnel, including Anderson Cooper, Robin Roberts, Sam Champion, Thomas Roberts and many more.

I’ve often written gay characters, and when straight actors have sometimes been cast in these roles, they’ll worry that they’re not gay enough, and ask for advice. This can be adorable. Although I once attended a production of Jeffrey in London, where some of the cast, with the best of intentions, were being ridiculously campy. As I explained to them, “You don’t have to do anything extra to play a gay character. Please – you’re English. It’s enough.”

There have been political debates over the casting of straight actors in gay roles. I most often believe in casting the best actor for any given role, and sometimes I’ve been surprised by which cast members turn out to be gay or straight. Casting gay actors in straight roles is never an issue: gay actors have been observing straight people all their lives, so the subject matter isn’t foreign.

So for those two actors who’ve been so troubled at the thought of playing gay: then don’t. Pass the paychecks to someone with a greater range. And get over yourselves.

And by the way, the photos at the top feature Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, two hugely successful Hollywood leading men who lived together for years, back when such guys were termed “merry bachelors.”


June 25, 2014

It’s In There

There’s a shelf of new products which we must all be very wary of. It seems that Campbells is now offering soup made from the flesh and bones of Disney Princesses. Once the Princesses have been captured, they are fattened up and then either pureed into a tasty stock or sliced into boullion-like cubes. Children everywhere will be tempted by a can filled with the savory aroma and delectable mouth feel of Cinderella, Belle and Jasmine. There’s also a soup made from actual cars, for kids who like a grittier, motor-oil-based broth.


June 24, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: The Fault In Our Movie Stars


I loved the YA novel The Fault in Our Stars, but after I saw the movie version, I had some questions, so I decided to consult the world’s foremost Fault In Our Stars authority, my perfect teenage daughter, Jennifer. Jennifer has gone through at least five copies of the book, including a version in which she crossed out the heroine’s name and replaced it with her own, and another copy where she used different color highlighters to mark the sections where she cried, the exact section where she first fell in love with the book’s hero, and the sentences which she thought would make good song lyrics for a collaboration between Taylor Swift, Lorde and Hermione from the Harry Potter books. She also has a copy where she ripped out the last ten pages and wrote a different ending, in which the hero’s dying words are, “I only wish I could’ve met and loved Jennifer Gelman-Waxner, and that we could’ve made hand-beaded rubber-band bracelets together.”

As everyone probably knows, TFIOS is about a tragic but inspirational love affair between two teenagers with cancer. In the movie, these teenagers are played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, and I asked Jennifer, “Now, I think that Shailene and Ansel are fantastic, and not just because their names sound like characters on Game of Thrones. But is it medically true that when teenagers get cancer, their skin becomes even more radiantly flawless?” “SHUT UP!” Jennifer replied. “I knew that you would say something like that, because you’re old and you don’t have a soul! Shailene and Ansel have beautiful skin because they’re filled with poetry and it comes out of their pores!”

Then I asked Jennifer about about the leading characters’ names, which are Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. “I think those are great names,” I said, “but aren’t they a teeny bit like the names you’d give to really attractive Hobbits, or to the main characters on a Victorian soap opera? And why does Augustus always have to call her Hazel Grace, and she keeps calling him by both his names as well?” “YOU ARE SO STUPID!” Jennifer howled. “They have those names because they’re both beautiful human beings who understand the truth of the universe, and if they were named Amy and Bruce they wouldn’t understand ANYTHING!”

I forged ahead, and asked, “Are we allowed to notice how incredibly caucasian this movie is? Everyone in it is seriously white and suburban, and they live in rooms from the Pottery Barn catalogue and drive shiny SUVs, and Augustus wears the most spotless athletic outfits I’ve ever seen. And when the characters go on a trip, they head for Amsterdam, maybe because it’s featured in that travel guide called International Destinations Where White People Will Feel Comfortable.” “YOU ARE SUCH AN UNBELIEVABLE PIG PERSON!” Jennifer screamed. “The characters are white so they can have nice bedspreads and coordinated bedroom wall murals! And they go to Amsterdam for a very good reason! And I’m sure that a lot of minorities live in Amsterdam and ride bicycles and walk along the canals, but maybe they were all at work that day! Did you ever think about that, MOM?”

I kept going, because I really needed to know something else: “Jennifer, when Shailene and Ansel are in Amsterdam, they visit the Anne Frank house and have a makeout session in the attic, and everyone standing nearby applauds. Is this a tribute to Justin Bieber’s visit to the Anne Frank house, where he wrote in the guest book that if Anne was alive today, she’d be a Belieber?” “YOU ARE DISGUSTING!” Jennifer yelped, almost unable to speak. “They go to the Anne Frank house because Anne was a sensitive teenager just like them, and I bet that if Anne was alive today she would go see this movie like, TWENTY TIMES! And I think that Shailene would be wonderful in a movie about Anne Frank, and Jennifer Lawrence could play her best friend Caitlin!”

“Alright, let’s just calm down,” I said soothingly.”because I only have one last question. At the end of the movie, all of the teenage girls around me were sobbing, and texting their friends. Do you think that this movie was a realistic portrait of love and illness, or just a wonderful romantic fantasy about incredibly attractive young movie stars trading quips and wearing cute wool hats?” Jennifer took a deep breath and after a long pause she said, “Mom, I’m gonna try not to strangle you, because I know that since you’re over 40 you have brain arthritis and all of your emotions have turned into, like, wads of cholesterol. But this movie told the truth, about how even totally cute people can get sick, but if they meet just the right totally cute other people, then they can support each other and sometimes not say anything at all, because they’re listening to the amazing songs on the soundtrack. And after I saw this movie I knew that someday I will meet a seriously cute boy and that even if he dies I will honor his memory by maintaining my bangs. Because that’s what love means.”

“But what if I died?” I asked. “Well, that would be incredibly sad,” Jennifer said, thoughtfully. “And I would cry really hard and I would miss you forever. But if they made a movie about it, on the opening weekend, it wouldn’t beat, say, X-Men.” “I understand that,” I said. “But would it beat, say, Jersey Boys?” “Duh,” said Jennifer, and then we hugged, because that was all I needed to hear, if you ask me.

June 23, 2014



So I’m riding in a cab and the conservative blowhard Sean Hannity is blathering away at top volume from the radio. He knew exactly what was happening in Iraq before anyone else did, and he knows exactly what Obama should be doing, and almost everything he said was not only innacurate but insane. His ego was off the charts, and listening to him made me want to airlift him into Iran, drop him onto a battlefield and then say, “Okay, smart guy – what exactly is your brilliant plan for all this?”

And then, as I kept fuming, I looked out the window and saw that I was in Central Park. The Park is one of the world’s great manmade wonders, and it’s currently in full bloom. Enjoying Central Park solves nothing, but I suddenly wasn’t listening to a word Sean Hannity was spouting. Central Park in June is the antidote to meaningless bluster.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by entertainment options. Do I need to see the latest X-Men installment before it leaves the theaters; do I need to see any of the many imported English plays currently infesting off-broadway; do I need to worry about anyone in England except for Kate Middleton; do I need to read any of the thousands of acclaimed new novels about family gatherings where wounds are re-opened and secrets are revealed?

The antidote to entertainment overload is this: just watch Orphan Black on the BBC Channel. If you’re one of the few remaining people who haven’t discovered this show and its supremely talented, breakout star, Tatiana Maslany, get busy. Yes, it’s about clones, but it’s not cheesey: it’s delectable. And yes, you need to watch it from the beginning. I keep trying to pick my favorite clone, but I love them all.

If you’ve been dealing with Time-Warner on any level, I’m truly sorry – there is no antidote.


June 22, 2014

Chet Baker

Here’s Chet Baker singing “I Get Along Without You Very Well.” There’s no live video, but
that’s okay.

June 21, 2014



After a two day trial, Philip Williams, who was dressed as Spider-Man at the time, was cleared of assaulting a woman in Times Square, after she’d refused to tip him. Mr. Williams was fined $250, for using foul language in front of the woman’s two young children; the Judge told Williams that Spider-Man should be a role model. Mr. Williams had claimed that the woman had thrown ice at him, while the woman insisted that Williams had punched her in the face. In the last two years, a man dressed as the Cookie Monster was charged with shoving a 2-year-old girl, a person dressed as Super Mario was accused of groping someone, and an Elmo figure pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after unleashing an anti-semitic tirade.

Something must be done about the vile behavior of the cartoon community in Times Square, because within the past year, I’ve endured the following:

Mickey Mouse kept muttering that Hello Kitty was the worst sex he’d ever had, “because she doesn’t have a mouth.”

Oscar the Grouch kneed me in the groin and then asked, “Now who’s grouchy?”

Batman told me that he thought Superman’s outfit was “Dallas Cowboys cheerleader tacky.” Superman responded by grabbing Batman’s utility belt and asking, “Where’s the blow dryer?” Batman then slapped Superman, who squealed, “I guess that your only superpower is fighting like a girl!”

Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, kept referring to the Little Mermaid as “an entree at Red Lobster, if you know what I mean. I hear that Spongebob introduced her to Mister Crabs.”

The genie from Aladdin kept offering to make Wolverine’s pants disappear.

Snow White and Cinderella got into a vicious, drunken catfight, and when the police asked Ironman to intervene, he replied, “Please, darling. Ask Mulan.”


June 20, 2014



As regular readers of this blog very well know, I enjoy an intimate relationship with Peeps, both because I genuinely love the product, and because Peeps disgust people. They fear Peeps, because Peeps represent the triumph of pure, brightly colored, refined sugar. The label on any variety of Peeps will never include the words organic, free-range, sun-dried, artisanal or “good, and good for the earth.” Peeps are astronaut food for people who never leave their apartments. Peeps are melted love.

There have been major recent developments in Peepland. The Easter season accounts for 70% of all Peeps sales, and the Peeps people want to enlarge their market share. They’ve issued Peeps in appropriate shapes and colors for Halloween, Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July. But now there’s a new product called Peeps Minis, which are chick-shaped, bite-sized versions of the originals, and which are intended for year-round snacking. They’re mini because some consumers have complained that full-scale Peeps can be sticky, and that the sparkling, crystallized coating can stain their hands. These people don’t understand Peeps. These people don’t appreciate Peeps. These people don’t deserve Peeps.

Some ingrates don’t like the fact that Peeps are connected, and that pulling them apart leaves spots that aren’t dusted with sugar. Cybele May, founder of the website Candy Blog, refers to these areas as “conjoining scars.”

Peeps Minis are being introduced in three flavors: strawberry creme, chocolate creme and sour watermelon, with a fourth flavor, vanilla creme, only available at that gourmet landmark, Target. I have no interest in any of these flavors, or in the entire mini concept. Remember those mini Oreos, and those mini Teddy Grahams, and mini Ritz Crackers? Did we really need them? All they did was allow people to feel like giants, or as if they were swallowing doll food.

But I do sympathize with the Peeps brand’s desire to expand. Therefore, I propose specialized, celebratory Peeps for the following holidays: Yom Kippur, Martin Luther King Day and most especially, the Mexican Day of the Dead, with beckoning, skull-shaped Peeps. Also, instead of going mini, why can’t there be entree-sized Peeps, shaped like full-sized bunnies or human heads?


June 19, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: The Great American Boy


Sometime around the end of World War II, all of the men disappeared from American movies, and they’ve been replaced by boys. The men used to do things like hold jobs, obey the speed limit, wear neckties and look after their families, but because none of this was especially entertaining, the Great American Boy appeared, and he’s ruled ever since. The GAB can be any age, and he likes to do the following things:

1. Offer a great crooked grin when he gets into trouble.

2. Charm women by, while at first being neglectful and irresponsible, ultimately saving the world from aliens.

3. Hang out with other GABs, which is always an occasion for a comic moment of gay panic, as when two GABs somehow end up in bed together, or hugging.

4. Drive all sorts of vehicles, preferably very fast, and often through crowded foreign marketplaces with sqwauking chickens.

5. Refuse to grow up or settle down, except in the very last seconds of certain Judd Apataow movies.

I love GABs, even when I want to smack them. I’ve just seen two wonderful GAB-fests: Edge of Tomorrow, which stars the tireless, iconic GAB Tom Cruise, and 22 Jump Street, a GAB buddy movie with the completely adorable Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Edge of Tomorrow is a relentless action movie which is much better than it has any need to be. Tom plays a cocky army officer who’s dragged into combat against an implacable army of snarling special effects, and after he’s spattered with alien blood, Tom somehow develops the ability to manipulate time, re-living the same day over and over again. Emily Blunt plays a fearless, buff war hero who helps Tom defeat the CGI monsters, but what really makes the movie soar is that, in order to keep re-living that same day, Emily has to constantly kill Tom, often by shooting him in the head. This device ends up being both charming and witty, like a sort of die-cute strategy.

Tom has, of course, based his career on playing GABs and he’s saved the planet from aliens in at least three other movies. Tom’s getting older, which is an asset, because it makes him seem a little less like he’s showing up at your door with a big smile and a line of vacuum cleaners. Emily is great, but the movie is clearly a little worried about having such a tough and accomplished female lead, so Emily manages to head into battle wearing full makeup and painstakingly streaked hair. Tom and Emily almost come across like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, because Emily’s so much smarter and Tom has to sputter and flail in order to keep up with her.

In 22 Jump Street, Channing and Jonah are right back playing inept detectives working undercover, this time as college students. Just like in the first Jump Street movie, part of the joke is that these guys can’t fool anyone. As one of the real college students remarks, “You guys look like you’re starring in a TV series called Hawaiian Dads.” Channing is a terrific GAB because he’s willing to play dumb, and because he looks basically like a neck with eyes. Jonah is an expert at playing the dejected spouse, especially when he’s out walking all by himself and taking careful little steps, like a nice Jewish geisha. Unlike the GABs in, say, the Fast and Furious movies, Channing and Tatum never try to act gritty or cool, or when they do, it’s hilarious. At one point, when Jonah is cautiously strapping himself into a harness, he tells Channing, “You know what’s cool? Safety.”

The very best thing in 22 Jump Street is a spectacular actress named Jillian Bell, who plays an extremely cranky, fed-up co-ed. She spends the whole movie insulting Channing and Jonah, and then kicking them and trying to shoot them. This is deeply satisfying, because as a woman married to a GAB, I can tell you that violence is sometimes the only answer. Because while there’s nothing cuter and more movie-ready than a GAB, sometimes a Great American Girl like myself needs a break, if you ask me.