“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: February 2014

February 4, 2014


I finally caught up with Philomena, now that Judi Dench has been nominated for an Oscar, and I just have to say it: the movie turned me into a sobbing, emotional wreck, and not just because watching Dame Judi enjoying a hotel buffet breakfast was an emotional journey in itself.

The movie is based on the true story of Philomena Lee, who, as a young unwed mother in 1950s Ireland, was forced to give up her baby for adoption, while toiling in an especially horrible convent laundry. Fifty years later, with the help of an English reporter, Philomena tries to track down the son she hasn’t seen in over fifty years. And if you’re not crying already, just think about the scene where Philomena meets the nasty old nun, who deliberately made sure that both Philomena and her boy were denied any sort of contact.

I know that some crackpot reviewers have whined that this movie is anti-Catholic, but come on: this year there’s already been a smash-hit live TV version of The Sound of Music, with the glorious Audra McDonald singing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, so nuns really can’t complain. Although sometimes I wonder if gentiles think of The Sound of Music as their Fiddler on the Roof, with warbling towheads in matching outfits instead of superstitious Jewish villagers dancing with Manischewitz bottles on their heads.

Philomena is very manipulative, and every time tears well up in Dame Judi’s eyes there are plenty of violins on the soundtrack, but I didn’t care. The details of Philomena’s life are surprising, and involve everything from Jane Russell to the Reagan White House. And by about halfway through the movie, I began hoping that Dame Judi would also discover that I was her long-lost daughter, and that even though I’d been raised by a loving family on Long Island, I belonged with her, on the red carpet.

Reunion stories always destroy me, whether it’s Philomena and her child, Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton crossing the Soviet tundra to find each other in Reds, or that moment when I finally realized that my electric blanket was in the box in the garage, and not the Hefty bag in the attic. Of course, Philomena’s story is beyond bittersweet, and I really wanted it to end with Jesus appearing and telling that mean old nun, “I don’t believe we’ve met.”

My favorite moment of a nun apologizing occurs in The Song of Bernadette, where Jennifer Jones plays a noble French peasant lass who has a vision of the Virgin, who’s played by Linda Darnell with really great lighting. Eventually, the healing spring of Lourdes bubbles up near where Bernadette had her vision, and becomes a holy shrine, while Bernadette, in her later years, enters a convent.

A mean nun at this convent hates Bernadette, and accuses her of making up the whole story about her vision. Bernie remains totally sweet and selfless and likes to stand outside for hours, praying in the pouring rain. Finally, even though she’s never complained, Bernadette collapses and we find out that for years, Bernadette’s leg has been eaten up with cancer. When the mean nun sees Bernadette’s diseased shin, she falls to her knees and begs Bernadette to forgive her, for her doubts. At this point Bernadette just smiles sweetly, and her thought bubble reads, “Yeah, who’s sorry now, Sister Mary Asshole?”

No matter how you feel about nuns, Philomena will make you weep, and never allow Irish unwed mothers to clean and fold your sheets. The real Philomena Lee is still alive, and she’s been handling all of the media attention, and the controversy about the movie, with a wonderful grace. She’s so lovely that I’m going to invite her to our place for Passover,which would be a real blessing, if you ask me.

February 3, 2014

Surreal Estate

Whenever I see a truly spectacular building, I immediately think of it as a possible home, and I
start to plan where I’d put the couch and my desk and the kitchen. I would close the building to
tourists, because it would become my condo. Here are a few of my favorites:

This is the Jefferson Market Courthouse, on Sixth Avenue in the West Village. It was once
attached to a womens prison, where the prisoners would hang out the windows and yell at
The prison was torn down and the land turned into a park, and the courthouse itself is
now a public library. Gothic Revival is my favorite form of architecture, because it’s both
serious and whimsical.



This is one of the lions which guard the 42nd Street Library, which would be an ideal home,
because of its grand design and because it’s so perfectly located,
near shopping and the theater district.


Here’s the main reading room, which is memorably featured in the
movie of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.


Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the best kind
of romantic fantasy because it stars
Audrey Hepburn as the world’s most
elegant quasi-call girl, and a young
George Peppard as the best-looking
short story writer ever.



The photo above is of the House of Lords in
London. I call it cosy, and I wouldn’t
change a thing.

The last photo is from St. Peter’s in
Rome. I’d keep my bed centrally located,
so I could see everything. And I might
add a mini-fridge.


February 2, 2014

Today I Am A Man

My bar mitzvah was a pivotal event in New Jersey history, for the following reasons:

1. All of the boys at my temple were always bar mitzvahed
wearing dark suits. My mother thought this was drab, and
I agreed. And so I was called to the Torah while wearing
a double-breasted, rust-colored blazer and coordinated,
darker brown slacks with a subtle golden fleck.
That’s right – I was bar mitzvahed in SPORTSWEAR.

2. While the wealthier bar mitzvah boys in nearby temples
received mountains of checks, here’s what
I got: a little bit of money, a four-volume History of the
Jewish People, a tennis sweater, a skiing
headband with a snowflake motif, and a Mark Cross
pen-and-pencil set, which I immediately broke.

On a happier note, I also received a wristwatch which
pictured the map of Israel, and all the numerals were
Hebrew letters. This watch turned green and stopped
functioning after I wore it swimming.

I also got a coffee-table sized book which contained,
printed on newsprint, mock-ups of newspapers printed during
biblical times. The headlines included BOY SLAYS GIANT! MOSES

I wish that book had also contained more contemporary
headlines, pertaining to my bar mitzvah itself, such as

Actually, I was proud of my family for keeping my
bar mitzvah very low-key, without a striped tent for
the reception. My parents weren’t especially religious,
so I was mostly bar mitzvahed due to social pressure,
and to teach Hitler a lesson.

3. My temple did boast the most important element in
any house of worship: a well-stocked gift shop.

4. I’m only sad that I missed out on the far more recent
trend of themed bar mitzvahs. My Mom once attended
a Lord of the Rings bar mitzvah, and I’ve seen footage
from Star Wars bar mitzvahs and Barbie bat mitzvahs.
And I’m sure there will be many, many Wolf of Wall Street
bar mitzvahs, complete with waitresses dressed as hookers
and chopped-liver sculptures of Jonah Hill.

And here now is the classic footage from the bar mitzvah
of Sam Horowitz in Dallas, featuring the music of
Cristina Aguilera and Jennifer Lopez. I adore this kid,
and I am so jealous:

February 1, 2014



Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.
– Oscar Wilde

When living in New York, gossip can be absorbed through your pores. Sometimes, when I meet someone new, I already know whom they’ve slept with, which jobs they’ve been fired from and why, how much they overpaid for their one-bedroom, and why they once spent a week in jail, in Atlanta.

For example, at a party, I once met a charming, ruggedly handsome guy who was making ends meet by working as an escort (he later became very successful in a completely legitimate business.) As we were gossiping, he told me about one of his regulars, a middle-aged talent agent who liked to be peed on. Before their sessions, the escort would have to remember to drink a lot of beer, so he’d be prepared. The agent would lie in the bathtub, so things remained tidy.

I try to never judge anyone else’s sexual habits. Instead, I try to understand the particular fetish. In this case, I mostly sympathized with the agent’s cleaning lady, or whoever had to scrub his bathroom.

Anyway, a few weeks later, I was invited to a cocktail party at the agent’s lavish Upper East Side penthouse. As I was introduced to him, all I could think about was pee, and I hoped, since I was shaking it, that he’d washed his hand.

Speaking of fetishes, I once received a treasured fan letter. The fan first said a few brief, complimentary things about my work, but then he got down to business: he’d noticed that in a photo of me, I was wearing loafers. Did I like wearing loafers, he wanted to know. How many pairs did I own? What were they made of? How often did I wear loafers?

He continued, for many paragraphs, to expand on his devotion to loafers. He’d also sent me a batch of photographs, of his loafer collection. In one photo, there were many individual loafers, riding atop the flatbed cars of a set of model trains. In another photo, at least fifty loafers were heaped atop a tree stump – this picture included the ominous shadow of the photographer.

I admire the confidence of people with serious fetishes. The loafer guy had no qualms about not merely confessing, but celebrating his fetish in a letter to a total stranger. I felt that I’d let him down, by not owning more loafers.

And wouldn’t Making Ends Meet be the perfect title for a male escort’s memoir?

And also: aren’t you glad that I illustrated this post with picture of loafers, instead of pictures of something else?