“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: March 2014

March 19, 2014


Next week my partner John and I will be headed to New Haven to see a student production
of my play Valhalla. This play concerns, among other things,
one of my personal heroes, Ludwig of Bavaria, who was also
known as the Dream King and the Mad King.

The illustrations below include a photo of Ludwig,
above a portrait he commissioned. During his brief
reign Ludwig built a series of storybook castles:
below you can see first Linderhof, his summer palace,
and a grotto he had built, which included theatrical
lighting, an artificial lake and a swan boat, all
based on themes from Ludwig’s favorite opera, Lohengrin.
Below that is a photo of Ludwig’s most famous castle,
Neuschwanstein, which inspired Cinderella’s Castle at
Disneyland. Ludwig’s castles, and their expense,
led to his being declared insane and his removal
from the throne. But today, these castles are among
the most popular tourist attractions in the world.
As part of this tribute to Ludwig, I’m including an
image I found where My Little Pony, or perhaps
My Little Unicorn, seems to be dressed as Ludwig.
I feel that Ludwig would have approved.






March 18, 2014


It’s that time of year, and friends have begun sending me what I call peepnography, because they know how I feel about Peeps.

I love Peeps so much that sunny yellow Peeps were featured on the front cover of the hardback edition of my book I Shudder. I also consider this image to be my author photo.


I love Peeps because they’re delicious and because they disgust people, striking a perfect aesthetic balance.

The holy trinity: marshmallow, crystallized sugar, and food coloring.

Feast your eyes (aren’t you glad that I didn’t say something like “Take a peep” or “Get your peep on”?)

Peeps in terrible trouble:




Birth of a Peep:


One of many popular Peep dioramas, and a personal favorite:
a re-enactment of the Miracle on the Hudson, with Peeps:


The Peepsons:


My childood passport photo:


She’s even more beautiful this way:


An all-Peeps production of Hamlet:


A sordid Peeps strip club:


Always remember: if you love something, don’t set it free. Eat it.

March 17, 2014



Maybe what’s so wonderful about The Lego Movie is that it’s not terrible. Because basing an entire movie on an interlocking plastic toy doesn’t sound all that promising, although of course I am looking forward to that upcoming musical about making rubber band bracelets.

But The Lego Movie is smart and irreverent even if, just like the toddlers who enjoy playing with Legos, after awhile it can gave you a headache. The characters are basically little cylinders with not very expressive faces and black plastic hair, similar to John Travolta on the Oscars. The plot involves a little construction worker cylinder who learns to stop following instructions, so he can improvise and save the Lego-world from destruction.

The only problem I have with the movie’s message is that it’s tucked inside a feature-length TV commercial. It’s a movie that keeps telling everyone to use their imaginations, as long as this involves buying as many Legos as possible. It’s kind of like Wall-e, which was a shiny blockbuster Disney product which kept promoting the wonders of nature.

I also get nervous whenever movies get insanely nostalgic about Boomer-era tchotkes. The Toy Story trilogy was pretty much a tearful tribute to everything aging white guys liked to play with, and The Lego Movie showcases plenty of father-and-son bonding over Star Wars and Batman collectibles. Maybe I’m just being crabby, but when my mind wandered I started to picture August:Osage County filmed entirely on an Etch-A-Sketch.

I also kept thinking about Frozen, which, while it was a corporate mega-hit, felt warmer and less relentless. If Frozen is a souped-up Broadway fairy tale, then The Lego Movie is a snarky self-help video game. Plus, as with so many Hollywood films, responsible parents need to warn their children about putting the cast in their mouths.

The Lego Movie completely eliminates the line between entertainment and merchandising. I think it was produced by Movies’R’Us, if you ask me.

March 16, 2014

The Police Gazette


As a fan of eccentric crime, I’d like to share the following recent favorites:

1. Last Friday night, police officers knocked on the door of Frank Giardina, 49, in Queens, due to a noise complaint. Frank answered the door with a marajuana pipe in his hand, and when the police asked him about the odor, he replied, “Oh, that’s weed.” The officers asked Frank for ID, and while he went to fetch it, Frank invited the officers into his apartment, where they found five pounds of heroin sitting on the kitchen table, with a street value of $400,000. Frank’s bail has been set at $25,000.

The verdict: Frank is guilty of both drug possession, and good manners.

2. Young Lee, a co-founder of the Pinkberry yogurt chain, was just sentenced to seven years in prison for assaulting a homeless man with a tire iron, near a freeway ramp in LA. Mr. Lee claims that the homeless man disrespected him by revealing what the New York Times called “a sexually explicit tattoo.” This of course made me desperate to know the exact nature of the tattoo, and thankfully Gawker revealed that it was two stick figures having sex.

The verdict: Lee got off easy, especially because the name Pinkberry sounds far more explicit than his victim’s tattoo.

3. Mikhlif Al-Shammah is as far as I can tell, a heroic man. He’s been crusading peacefully in Saudi Arabia for Sunni-Shiite equality. Because of his efforts to promote understanding, mostly through writing articles, he’s lost his job, been arrested and imprisoned, and his son has shot him four times. Among the government’s charges against Mikhlif is “annoying other people.”

If Annoying Other People was considered a crime in the United States, the following offenders would be serving life sentences:

Anyone who uses a cell phone on the street.

Anyone who eats smelly food in an enclosed space, like a subway, while strangers sit nearby.

Anyone who claims to know what really happened to that Malaysian jetliner, especially with regard to “the government cover-up.”

Anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to stand still and chat with their friends near the doorway of an office building or a theater, or on a crowded sidewalk.

Anyone who uses the phrase “tonal variations” when referring to food or throw pillows.

March 15, 2014

The Best Things About Being An Adult

1. You don’t have to worry about taking the SATs.

2. If you choose to, you never have to read any articles about taking the SATs.

3. You don’t have to think up a name for your generation.

4. Not only do you no longer have to worry about getting accepted at an Ivy League school, you will now know many people who have attended Ivy League schools and have then become yoga instructors.

5. You no longer have to listen to the same song over and over again, because it’s like the person who’s singing the song KNOWS YOU. If you’re listening to the same song over and over again as an adult, then the song is probably about IRAs.

6. You don’t have to take recreational drugs at parties or clubs. You can now take recreational drugs at home, to decompress after work.

7. You don’t have to worry about becoming the voice of your generation, or listening to the voice of your generation. Because the only voices who matter will now belong to either your doctor or your lawyer.

March 14, 2014

Ban Prissy


In response to the Ban Bossy campaign to outlaw the use of the word “bossy” and empower little girls, we must also begin a Ban Prissy campaign, to empower little boys. Little boys have every right to be fastidious and precise, without getting called names. Because when you call a little boy prissy:

– He may think it’s a bad idea to coordinate his briefcase with his outerwear, on the first day of kindergarten.

– He may decide not to request that the other children call him “Mr. Rudnick.”

– He will stop referring to his juicebox as an aperitif.

– Before taking a nap, he will no longer put fresh cucumber slices over his eyes.

– During dodgeball, he won’t ask his gym teacher, “So why did you decide to dodge getting a real job?”

– He may shy away from naming “the most chic” letters of the alphabet.

– During a classmate’s tantrum, he might not murmur, “No names, but someone needs to take their Ritalin.”

March 13, 2014


This video is for the new Ban Bossy campaign, which is designed to encourage leadership
in girls, and to end name-calling.

While the campaign is clearly well-intended, it can seem
simplistic. It reminds me of a weekly feature in the Times
Business section, where CEOs and other corporate figures,
both male and female, are interviewed about how they run
their companies. Most of the people being interviewed come
across as tireless, confident and occasionally, well, bossy.

On 30 Rock, Tine Fey hilariously explored the difficulties
of being in charge. Her character, Liz Lemon, was the head
writer of a TV show. She struggled with having to wrangle an impossible group of
stars and staff; she wanted everyone to behave, and she
also wanted to be liked. This led to insanity.
Her boss, Alec Baldwin, loved being a leader and had no problem manipulating everyone
around him.

The celebrities in the Ban Bossy video are almost all
talented and powerful. Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote the
bestselling Lean In, has been both praised and vilified;
she’s been called every name in the book, and this hasn’t
stopped her.

As Thirty Rock proved, leaders aren’t necessarily nice

The greatest leaders I’ve met, male and female, are
driven, charismatic and most often self-made. Some of
them are also caring and compassionate, and some are
maniacs. On a certain level, being a leader means being
a star, and being comfortable with power – and that’s
exceedingly rare.

In the closing moments of the video, Beyonce announces
that, “I’m not bossy – I’m the boss.” That’s when
I wanted Sheryl Sandberg to reply, “You’re not
the boss of ME!”

March 12, 2014

Game Over


I confess: I was completely tickled when, in this past Sunday’s New York Times crossword puzzle, 78 Down was “I_____Hamlet” (Paul Rudnick play).

For a certain period, I did the Times puzzle obsessively, until I realized that for the words I didn’t know, I could just fill in anything. I never did the puzzle again.

I hereby give you permission to cheat on whatever print, video or party game you are playing. Nothing bad will happen to you. You will be free.

There is nothing more satisfying than tipping over a board game so that all of the playing pieces fall onto the floor, and I’m including chess. Especially chess. After you do this, it’s entirely permissible to say to your opponent, “I win!”

The headline on Sunday’s puzzle was “Nosy Nonsense.” I took this very personally, on so many levels.

March 11, 2014


I loved the video where Puddles covered the Lorde hit Royals. Here he’s singing her latest,

March 10, 2014

I Hate Them


Part of the fun of reality television is that it allows you to make knee-jerk judgements regarding total strangers. Because these people have agreed to be filmed, they’ve agreed to be relentlessly criticized by everyone watching.

For example: I was watching an episode of House Hunters International, where Chris and Alison, an extremely blonde young couple were looking for an apartment in Amsterdam. Here are the indefensibly petty reasons why I hated them:

Chris’s carefully trimmed beard and hipster eyeglass frames.

The fact that the couple kept insisting on space for “our bikes.”

Alison announcing that their new apartment would become “the next chapter in the Chris and Alison story.”

Alison wanted space for her home office, and when one apartment only provided an alcove for her desk, she termed this “a hybrid scenario.”

Before choosing between three possible apartments, Alison told Chris, “Let’s re-cap.”

The fact that even though the couple are in their early thirties, they were worried about “too many stairs.”

Obviously, Chris and Alison were rancid, preening excuses for human beings.

Other reasons to hate people on House Hunters:

When they repeatedly use the words “charm”, “dated”, “updates” and “crown moldings”, and obsess over their need for granite countertops.

When, once they’ve moved into their new home, they promptly install those blobby leather 70s bachelor-pad sofas that look like melted catchers mitts.

When they babble about how “we love to entertain.” Are they talking about the troops?

When, upon glimpsing an apartment balcony, they insist, “Wouldn’t this be a perfect spot for me to have my morning coffee and read a book.” YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE: PLAYING VIDEO GAMES ON YOUR PHONE DOESN’T COUNT AS READING A BOOK.

Here are the people I love on House Hunters:

The straight male couples, who are occasionally brothers, who for some reason have decided to buy a house together. When these guys are looking at a condo in, say, Houston, they’ll say things like, “Dude, it’s got a bathroom.”

The hardworking single women who’ve decided they want to own a home, and they bring their Moms or their best friends with them on the hunt. The subtext is always, “I am sick of waiting to meet someone.”

The gay couples who will look at a huge brand new home and announce, “It’s a gut reno. We need to make it look like us.”

March 9, 2014



I once did an informal survey, by which I mean I asked around, to try and determine which of the arts inspires the most vicious behavior. Which field is the most venomous – the theater, literary fiction, dance, opera, painting, you name it. Before I reveal my inarguable conclusion, here are some observations:

1. Novelists, because they spend the most time alone, tend to nurture the most paranoid fantasies. Novelists will assume that their editors hate them, that their publishers are about to revoke their contracts, and that all of their most unpleasant reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are actually the work of a rival, scheming novelist.

2. Theater people, including actors, playwrights, designers and directors are often very supportive of one another. This is because it’s pretty much impossible to make a living in the theater, so friendships become both honest and necessary. Also, when you’re working on a production, everyone tends to hang out together, so backbiting is counter-productive.
Of course, there are monsters: the director who makes people cry, the playwright who refuses to change a word, and the actor who feigns friendship, but once he or she is onstage, all bets are off. An actress and I once founded the Devils Island Repertory Company, where all of the actors with the worst reputations would be marooned, and forced to perform shows with each other.

3. Painters, sculptors and other visual artists are the most skilled at faking distant, genius-like eccentricity. They’ll wander around at art openings, as if their brilliance prevents them from speaking any known language. When these people are accused of being haughty or snobbish, they will always insist that they’re just painfully shy. No one is more conscious of their place in the pecking order than someone who creates well-funded installations involving folding chairs, video monitors, stuffed animals and used condoms.

4. Movie people are a breed unto themselves, and their behavior can often be predicted by the movie’s budget. If you’re working on an indie, where no one’s getting paid, people tend to be friendlier. On big-budget movies, a caste system rules: everyone’s aware of which star is getting paid the most, and therefore has the most clout.

5. The dance world requires enormous dedication from an extremely young age, so dancers can become like Olympic athletes: they’re trusting and strangely innocent and not very socialized. Dancers are also most often sexier than the artists in all of the other disciplines. Audience members rarely fantasize about an especially yummy lyricist.

6. While the word diva is a staple of the operatic world, that world itself is very corporate. Schedules are set years in advance, and entourages are essential. Unlike with, say, theater people or writers, there aren’t that many bars where sopranos hang out.

7. And now for my rigorously researched final judgement: from talking to cellists and oboists and conductors, it seems like classical music is hell on earth. I’m not sure why, but raging jealousies and homicidal infighting prevail. So the next time you’re listening to a symphony, remember: you’re hearing the sound of inhuman evil.

March 7, 2014

Don’t Be A Don’t

Glamour magazine has had a regular feature called Dos and Don’ts. It has sometimes included photos of regular people who’ve committed a heinous fashion crime, like wearing nude tights
with their kilt, or chunky boots with their hot pants. The offender’s eyes are always covered
with a black bar, and I’ve always wondered if these criminals ever recognize themselves and
live in shame. Glamour has also published many celebrity Don’ts:




As a longtime magazine addict, my other favorite features have included Can This Marriage Be Saved? in the Ladies Home Journal. Each month a couple, listed as, say, Jane and Mike
W., would receive marriage counseling. In the early years the
couples just needed to communicate, or Mike needed to stop criticizing Jane’s casseroles.
But as the magazine moved into the modern age, Mike began drinking heavily and becoming verbally abusive, because he felt threatened by Jane’s career. In most cases, the marriages
were saved, but on rare occasions, a divorce would occur. Some of my favorite topics have

“He’s Turned His Back on God!”

“His Elderly Parents Are Too Demanding!”

“I Wasn’t Excited About Our New Baby”

and the classic “My Husband Is a Tightwad!”


There was also a magazine titled Calling All Girls! which had a feature called Was My Face
Red! Readers would send in their most embarrassing stories, which included:

“Getting my charm bracelet caught in the strings of my violin!”

“Telling my Mom that I’d put money in the parking meter, and
then putting a dime in the wrong meter!”

“I drank from the finger bowl!”

But my all-time favorite column appeared in the earliest version
of Details magazine, and it was called Knifestyles of the Rich
and Famous. Each month, someone would minutely describe their
plastic surgery procedure. This was riveting. I especially
remember a woman who described getting buttock implants. She’d
always felt terrible because once, pre-implants, she’d walked
past a jazz musician and he’d murmured, “Flats fixed here!”