“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

December 23, 2015

You Know You Love It

I surfed Youtube, searching for a highly original Christmas song to post. I wavered between Anna Kendrick, doing a terrific job with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, backed by a choir, singing for the Obamas in Washington; George Michael’s This Christmas; or something refreshingly brooding, like Chet Baker crooning Time After Time. Ultimately I surrendered, the way everyone must, to the highest holiday power imaginable: Mariah Carey.

Mariah’s been having her ups and downs lately, and squeezing herself into some terrifyingly engineered gowns. But she always seems to maintain a breezy what-the-hell outlook, even while hawking her butterflies-and-angels jewelry on home shopping. She’s even just directed and appeared in a Hallmark made-for-TV Christmas movie, where she glows like a Star Wars light saber. In fact, don’t the words “Mariah Carey” sound like “Merry Christmas”, in the very special language spoken on Mariah’s home planet, in a galaxy far, far away?

December 10, 2015

Chanukah Thoughts

635850173449997932-IMG-3548There’s a 32 foot tall menorah in Brooklyn, lit by a rabbi in a cherrypicker. The rabbi’s wife has to carry the matching 32 foot tall dreidel.

I’d like to create a menorah using all the Republican candidates, and light each one on fire using Donald Trump’s hair.

You’re not supposed to call Chanukah the Jewish Christmas, but as a child, I always knew that when it came to winter holidays, the Jews weren’t even trying.

There’s the Elf on the Shelf, and the Mensch on a Bench. My Mom used to call the Hadassah newsletter Jews in the News.

There’s a real childrens book called Blintzes for Blitzen. I saw it in the Chanukah section of Bed Bath and Beyond, which, of course, was dwarfed by the Christmas goods. I’m not sure, but I think this is a Lego menorah:

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I was proud of my family for refusing to have a Christmas tree.

I always loved the gold foil-covered chocolate coins available in little gold mesh bags at Chanukah, called gelt. But making chocolate money might not be the best public relations move for Judaism.

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November 28, 2015

Libby Gelman-Waxner: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Can I just say something? The title of this movie reminds me of my own name, because it includes way too much punctuation.

The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part-2-Final-PosterIn the first Hunger Games movie, Jennifer Lawrence, as the determined, sullen Katniss Everdeen, had to slaughter other teens and children in the arena, and now, in the final film, she’s killing all sorts of evil soldiers and mutant creatures. Like the Hunger Games books, the films refuse to glorify war, which means that Jennifer has now spent four movies looking morose, sorrowful and angry, and not just because of her lifeless brunette dye job. Jennifer is amazing, but I think we’ve all suffered enough, especially after Jennifer delivers what, to my mind, is the most genuinely tragic thought imaginable: “The bakery didn’t survive.”

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Jennifer says this to Josh Hutcherson, who plays her boyfriend Peeta, who’s been brainwashed into wanting to kill her; Josh also sports the worst blonde highlights since my cousin Alyssa tried using Crest whitening strips on her bangs. Jennifer’s other boyfriend, Gale, is also still hanging around, along with a tattooed, culturally diverse batch of rebels, who look like a punk band on a Nickelodeon show.
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They’re all struggling to reach the capitol and assassinate Donald Sutherland as the nasty President Snow. Donald is one of the only people in the entire series with a sense of humor, along with Woody Harrelson as Jennifer’s alcoholic ally; Woody amuses himself by playing with the tendrils of his stringy blonde wig, which balances atop his head like an exhausted squid.

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A lot of critics have cheered for Katniss as a feminist heroine, which doesn’t really account for her spandex military bodysuits or the fact that she’s both selfless and irritable – she’s like a cranky Joan of Arc, with stylists and a major presence on dystopian social media. She’s basically someone who, in the words of my Mom, the beloved Sondra Krell-Gelman, “has had it it up to here.” She’s being advised by Julianne Moore as a rebel leader with a helmet of stern silver hair, like Meryl Streep in The Giver: it’s a look that says, “I use menopause as a weapon.”

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Mockingjay was accompanied by a lot of trailers for the big Christmas movies, many of which feature spunky sci-fi heroines with hunky male sidekicks. It’s great to see so many young women wielding swords, phasers and grenades; as I told my perfect teenage daughter Jennifer, “In the future, women will get to kill anyone who uses hurtful language or who doesn’t pay them as much as a Hemsworth brother, if you ask me.”

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November 17, 2015

True Progress

Here’s the apalling and entrancing new ad for Moschino Barbie, which includes a little boy:

November 15, 2015

Paris

Eiffel-Tower-Peace-SymbolDuring, and after, the hideous terror attacks in Paris, social media went berserk. The internet became a source of invaluable information, with links to the European TV feeds with the most immediate and reliable information. Facebook also helped people in Paris transmit their safety to farflung friends and relatives. The web then ran wild, with political grandstanding from every corner, dangerously unfounded rumors, bigotry, compassion, and the instant branding of a terrible event, complete with logos, hashtags and theme songs (including the Marseillaise and John Lennon’s Imagine.)

At its best, the internet becomes a global town meeting; at its worst, the internet encourages everyone, including me, to have and post an opinion, sometimes on events which don’t require additional input, especially from people straining for self-importance.

The internet becomes somewhat like the makeshift memorials which sprout on streetcorners following all sorts of tragedies: those sometimes mountainous heaps of flowers, candles, helium balloons, stuffed animals and personal notes. The current memorial outside the French embassy in NYC includes glasses of wine. Even people without a personal connection to any given tragedy feel a need to express their grief.

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Landmarks all around the world have been bathed in the French tricolor, including the arch in Washington Square park:

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It’s like an international funeral, where no one knows the right thing to do or say. Probably because there is no right thing.

November 10, 2015

David Rakoff

51Yt4yfdvKLLast night there was a terrific tribute to David Rakoff, held at the Symphony Space uptown. I was the host to an amazing lineup of David’s friends, who read pieces from The Uncollected David Rakoff, which has just been published by Anchor Books. I wrote a Foreward to the collection: if, like most people, you’re a longtime Rakoff fan, the book features many of Davi’s finest and most hilarious essays, and if you’re a newbie, it’s a great introduction to the Rakoff canon. The book also includes the full text of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, David’s masterwork, which is, of all things, a delightful epic poem.

The evenings’ stellar readers included Jodi Lennon, Dave Hill, Patricia Marx, Jackie Hoffman, Simon Doonan, Randy Cohen, Julie Klausner and Jon Glaser. I especially treasure Simon’s rendition of “The Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name”, David’s sublime meditation on Stuart Little, the gayest mouse ever.

The place was packed, with David’s fans and family. Patty Marx and I commiserated over how, since we’re both obsessives, we’d brought two copies of what we’d be saying and reading, in case one copy was lost or stolen. Jackie did an especially sensational job with her excerpt from Love, Dishonor, speaking in verse and portraying multiple characters. All of the pieces were touching and funny and gorgeously written, so the evening was both a celebration of a wonderful writer, and a lament for a life cut tragically short, at age 47.

Here’s an especially memorable video, of David’s last appearance on This American Life:

October 28, 2015

Important Moments In World Culture

homer-excited1. Whenever a decorator on an HGTV show refers to a room as “a masculine space.”

2. Whenever a host on home shopping refers to a pair of brown leggings as being “on-trend in all of the upscale boutiques.”

3. Whenever a character on any TV show says, “This isn’t a game!”, “What’s going on here?”, “You have no idea” or “Someone has to stop him before this happens again.”

4. Whenever a presidential candidate refers to himself or herself as “real”, and then adds, “because voters can smell it.”

5. Whenever the writer of a celebrity magazine profile begins the piece by discussing their ride to the interview location, how long they had to wait for the star to appear, and includes any compliment the star paid the writer, as in “You’re smart – no one’s ever asked me that question before”, or “I love your blouse.”

October 24, 2015

I Shudder

We’ve been shooting the pilot for the I Shudder TV series all this week. Here are producer Dan Jinks, our glorious star Hamish Linklater and yours truly on a Soho street corner, where we’ve just staged a car pileup.

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Dan, Hamish, and me, courtesy of our superb director, Michael Patrick Jann:
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We’ve been shooting all over the city, in nightclubs and office buildings and Washington Square. Everyone in New York has been helpful, good-natured and completely used to having film crews on every corner. The weather has been ideal, so New York looks especially beautiful. I’ll try to post more photos later.



October 18, 2015

Dear Ariana

44ariana_GrandeAriana Grande recently tweeted the following; “dear world, more compassion, niceness, encouragement, less judgement, intolerance, labeling bullshit pls”; she also tweeted, “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it.”

I know that Ariana means well, and who can argue with the need for compassion, but judgement is something else entirely. I’m sure that, on occasion, even Ariana judges, and I’ll bet she’s occasionally tempted to say things that aren’t quite “nice.” In honor of Ariana, here’s a guide, to modern judgement:

1. There are the kneejerk judgements we make instantly, in any situation, but don’t dare share in any forum.
2. There are the judgements we voice aloud, but only to our pets or to our face in the mirror, as in “I look awful, but at least I don’t look as bad as (substitute a celebrity’s most recent mug shot).”
3. There are the judgements we will share over the phone with close friends, preceded by phrases like, “you can never repeat this, I mean it, but…” followed by phrases like, “But you know I love her.”
4. There are judgements we’re willing to text or email, which means they can be forwarded.
5. There are judgements we’re willing to voice anonymously, online, because we’re in that kind of mood.
6. There are judgements we’re willing to make on Twitter or Facebook, where we can be identified. We justify these judgements by only attacking evil politicians or anyone we view as intolerant.
7. There are judgements we pretend aren’t judgements, by adding phrases such as “But that’s just my opinion, and what do I know?”

One of the ultimate problems with “niceness” is that it pretty much eliminates any effective works of art. Making nice is a crippling limitation. “Niceness” also hinders almost any political action. One of Ariana’s hit songs is called “One Less Problem”, in which she dumps her boyfriend, which isn’t a very nice thing to do.

I know just what you’re thinking: be nice.

October 12, 2015

Robert de Michiell

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The wonderful artist Robert de Michiell has passed away, following a long illness. He’s pictured above, with his husband, Broadway General Manager Jeffrey M. Wilson.

I knew Robert because he illustrated all of the original Libby Gelman-Waxner columns in Premiere, and he provided the cover for If You Ask Me, the collected columns published by St.Martins. He also created terrific ads for the commercial run of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.
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Robert’s output was dazzling, and included everything from New Yorker covers to memorable Fire Island postcards to the posters for Broadway shows. He was a delightful, generous, brave man.

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Robert had recently been putting together a glorious collection of his work, and he’d asked Libby to contribute. Here’s what she had to say:

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A Heartfelt Appreciation

For so many years, I was America’s most beloved and irresponsible film critic in the glorious pages of Premiere magazine. While my words remained penetrating and vivacious, here was the magazine’s greatest challenge: who could possibly capture my physical beauty, and my frolicsome intelligence, in an appropriate image? A photograph was out of the question, because not only does the camera add ten pounds, but my enemies have been known to use Photoshop as a weapon. The only solution was to call upon a supremely gifted and totally adorable artist: the sublime Robert de Michiell.
When I first heard that Robert had agreed to portray me, I felt just like Barbra Streisand contemplating a warm bagel with every imaginable topping – all I wanted to say was yes, yes, yes, and how did I get so lucky? In fact, one of Robert’s finest illustrations pictures me graciously pursuing Barbra’s tour bus.
Every month I would treasure Robert’s delicious work, as I battled a chiseled Brad Pitt in Fight Club, tried on Uma Thurman’s form-fitting, taxi cab yellow warm-up suit in Kill Bill, and danced with Frodo. His portraits proved that I was young, lovely and above all else, triumphantly blonde. Whenever I see Robert’s work, on posters and magazine covers and gallery walls, I always think: he makes everything in this world joyous, playful and irresistible.
Robert was the only possible choice to create the cover for my collected columns, titled If You Ask Me. I worship this cover, and not just because Robert has me dangling a shopping bag with the logo Lox World. Another spectacular de Michiell? A practically nude, sparkling Libby in Showgirls.
I adore Robert de Michiell, and I trust him. He’s a masterful artist and a completely fabulous human being, if you ask me.

Libby Gelman-Waxner
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October 7, 2015

Urbane Legends

schenck_whitney_2014_09_17_dsc_9261_1140These are the topics which cause certain New Yorkers to sigh and rage and hold endless, pointless, deliriously satisfying conversations:

– The price someone paid for an entire building in the Village thirty years ago.

– The price that person got when he or she sold it last week.

– The greatest restaurant ever until the tourists ruined it.

– The hottest club ever until the bridge-and-tunnel people ruined it.

– That incredibly hunky, shirtless construction worker who exhibited himself every day on a building site at 5th Avenue and 41st Street – every gay man in NY somehow knew about this guy. All you had to say was, “I was walking down Fifth Avenue…”

– Which mayor was the worst and why everyone now misses Bloomberg.

– Why the new Whitney is hideous/superb/a compromise. (It’s critical to have formed an opinion without having actually been to it.)

– Which neighborhoods and buildings various celebrities live in.

– Why there are no good bakeries/places to get bagels/all-night diners anymore.

– Why Brooklyn still doesn’t count.

October 4, 2015

Libby Gelman-Waxner: Space Case

the-martian-pic1Okay, here’s what I love about the space stations in The Martian: they’re spotless. Even when Matt Damon gets stranded on Mars, his encampment is filled with gleaming white equipment and carefully labeled white plastic bins; it’s like an inter-galactic Container Store. The much larger spacecraft which is sent to rescue Matt is like an orbiting boutique hotel, with modular furniture, picture windows and a spa-like gym, and the astronauts all wear sleek athleisure yoga gear. I kept waiting to see a zero-gravity housekeeper floating by, chasing a spray-bottle of Fantastik.

The Martian is great, but I can’t say that it’s very surprising. It’s another movie about a crew of mildly diverse, stalwart Americans who head out to rescue a handsome, noble white movie star, who boogies to vintage pop tunes. Every few minutes someone ingeniously solves a problem, then something goes wrong, and then it gets fixed – why can’t we just send Matt and mission commander Jessica Chastain to Syria, where they’d solve everything with a few innovative computer programs and some duct tape? Between Matt and Jessica and Jeff Daniels, who plays the weary, idealistic head of NASA, it’s a whole movie about the triumph of the American jawline.

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Personally, I don’t get why anyone would ever want to go to Mars. It’s dry and dull and dusty; it’s like spending billions of dollars to fly to an abandoned mall in New Mexico. As a rule, I don’t like to explore any frontier without a Carvel, a Dunkin Donuts and some friendly natives selling their handcrafts. When I think about Mars, I keep seeing dead casinos and no FIOS.

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I also saw The Intern and I just have to say it: I worship Nancy Meyers. Nancy is pretty much my ground zero. Nancy gets a lot of flak for making movies packed with gorgeous, restaurant-grade kitchens, sumptuous lofts and pretty people – she brings out the jealous snit in so many film critics, who can’t afford cashmere throws and farmhouse sinks. In The Intern, Anne Hathaway plays the head of a wildly successful Brooklyn start-up which delivers luxuriously packaged outfits and accessories – it’s sort of a Nancy Meyers supply app. Anne has a brownstone, a devoted staff, a furry house-husband and one perfect child. She’s feeling overwhelmed, and she’s advised by Robert De Niro, as a restless, retired executive who applies for a spot in Anne’s senior intern program. Anne and Robert are wonderfully charming together, and they never have to act gruff and wisecracking, like Matt and Jessica.

Some people have trouble with Anne, because she always seems very assured and pleased with herself, which is why she’s perfect in The Intern; I completely believed that she was determined and smart enough to run her own company. Even in her Interstellar spacesuit, Anne was gung-ho and fun – Anne is like someone who aced Harvard, overhauled Google and scored an eight-figure book deal. She’s a brunette Hillary.

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Nancy Meyers reminds me of the writer Jennifer Weiner, who’s pointed out that women who write about First World, Platinum Card characters often get snubbed as chick-lit rom-commers. Frankly, I’d rather lead a mission to one of Nancy Meyers’ foyers than the arid deserts of Mars, if you ask me.

Paul Rudnick Blognick