“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 18, 2014

Cosmic Spoiler Alerts

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Someday, you are going to die. Sorry.

You will most likely never be elected President of the United States. This is undoubtedly, for all concerned, a good thing.

If there is life on other planets, it will probably not be contacting you directly. So you will never get a related book deal. Again, sorry.

If there is a God, you’d better hope that, in your case and mine, this God is willing to overlook just about everything.

You will never win the Nobel Peace Prize, so I hope that you haven’t been counting on it, or telling your friends, “This is my year, I can feel it.”

You will never have hair that will be universally termed “lustrous.”

If you discover the secret of happiness, you’d better write it down on the back of an envelope, because otherwise you will never remember it, which will drive you crazy.

June 17, 2014

Hello

This is an amazing piece of what I guess is called fan-animation, or fanimation.
It’s a version of the opening number from the heavenly Book of Mormon,
performed in the style of South Park:

June 16, 2014

Questions of the Day

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Are fundamentalist Christian maniacs and fundamentalist Jewish maniacs jealous of fundamentalist Islamic maniacs? Are the Judeo-Christian maniacs thinking to themselves, “We could take over Des Moines, if we had more rocket launchers?”

Eric Cantor has been the highest-ranking Jewish member of Congress in history. After his recent, crushing primary defeat, did his mother remind him that “You’re still a nice boy”? Even though he’s not? I prefer his wife, Diana Marcy Fine, because she’s a lifelong liberal Democrat who, unlike her prissy husband, is pro-choice and supports gay marriage. That must make for an interesting seder.

Casey Kasem, the recently deceased, legendary DJ, was a very proper and respectful man. When his highly-rated America’s Top Forty program was still on the air, he refused to say the title of the song “I Want Your Sex”, instead referring to the hit tune as “George Michael’s latest.” When Casey wanted to make love to his wife, the alarmingly blonde, controversial Jean Kasem, would he tell her, “Hey honey, tonight, would you like to listen to George Michael’s latest?”

Years ago, when I was looking for a nursing home for my mother, I somehow got on an email list for something called “A Place For Mom.” Doesn’t this sound like it could be referring to a shoebox or a sound-proofed basement? And what about A Place For Dad?

At my gym, when I’m running slowly around the track, I’m sometimes easily passed by a ten-year-old girl. Is it wrong for me to yell, “Yeah, well come back in a few years after your self-esteem plummets, sweetheart”?

June 15, 2014

Empty

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In 2010, at the Museum of Modern Art, the reknowned performance artist Marina Abramovic sat motionless and silent, six days a week, seven hours a day, and looked right at whoever sat in a chair opposite her. In her latest piece, entitled 512 Hours, Ms. Abramovic has gone a step further. She’s appearing in an empty London gallery, where, when she was asked what would happen, she replied, “I honestly don’t know; I don’t have a plan. That is the point. The idea is that the public are my material, and I am theirs. I will open the gallery myself and close it at 6 PM, with my key.”

Ms. Abramovic described her inspiration for this piece: “I had this vision of an empty gallery – nothing there.” Ms. Abramovic has been accused of copying the work of another performance artist, Mary Ellen Carroll, who was been working on a similar piece, entitled Nothing, since 1984. Ms. Abramovic has made quite a bit of money from her pieces, and has opened the Marina Abramovic Institute in Hudson, New York, “a center for long-durational work.” During her latest piece, she gave one visitor a small mirror and told her to walk backward, using the mirror as a guide. “Reality is behind you,” she whispered.

To avoid further accusations of plagiarism, here are some suggestions for future pieces by Ms. Abramovic:

– She could ask all the visitors to an empty gallery to leave their purses and wallets in a pile on the bare floor. Then, as the visitors watched, Ms. Abramovic would rifle through their belongings, removing only large bills.

– Ms, Abramovic could ask people to email her their credit card information, which she would use to buy herself many pairs of expensive shoes. She would tell the participants, “It’s as if we are wearing the shoes together.”

– Ms. Abramovic could receive funding to remain at her home, snacking in bed. This piece could be termed, “A multi-dimensional exploration of carbs.”

– Participants would pay for Ms. Abramovic to travel throughout the world, staying at luxury hotels and getting massages. In return, Ms. Abramovic would demand additional donations for facials. Ms. Abramovic could announce, “I am calling this piece, Hello, Suckers.”

– In order to reach the widest possible audience, Ms. Abramovic would post a video on Youtube, asking viewers, in multiple languages, to “Tell me why you love me, and why you think I’m beautiful. Then share your responses with as many people as possible. Then send me the title to your home, via registered mail.”

June 13, 2014

More Rules For Riters

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1. I’m old and prejudiced, but I think that sometimes, I can tell when something’s been written entirely on a computer. I always do a first draft in longhand, on yellow legal pads. This feels more leisurely and more emotional. When I’ve tried to write a first draft on my Mac, the results have felt hollow, like a dutiful homework assignment.

2. In comic playwrighting, the greatest gift is the bonus laugh. This is a reliable laugh which comes as a complete shock, on a line which was never intended to be funny. This sort of laugh emerges organically, as a blessing. In my play The New Century, the sublime Linda Lavin had a line in the play’s final scene. Another character asked her if she was Jewish, and Linda’s character replied, “I resent your assumption. Just because someone is critical and articulate and always hungry – fine, I’m Jewish.” At every performance, the audience would burst into laughter the second Linda said the word “critical”, and they wouldn’t stop. Luckily, Linda had a purse and some other props she could fiddle with, while she patiently waited for the laughter to subside. Of course, Linda’s talent alone might have been responsible for this clockwork tsunami. Linda Lavin is a playwright’s dream. But whatever was causing the laughter, I was happy to stand in the back of the theater and bask in it.

3. The very best thing about writing any sort of fiction is that you can have your characters say things, often hideously offensive things, which you would never dream of saying yourself, even if you’d secretly like to. Here’s the gift of fiction: you can blame your characters.

4. Sometimes it’s a good idea to write something that’s a complete departure from your usual style, or in blatant imitation of another author. Then throw it out.

5. Some wonderful writers can only work in public spaces, like libraries, parks or cafes. I can never do this, because if you slump on the floor of a library in your underwear with cupcake crumbs all over your unwashed t-shirt, you may be asked to leave.

6. As many other writers have noted, when you’re blocked, it’s a good idea to leave your home and go for a walk. It’s an even better idea to go for a walk and buy chocolate-covered cashews. We’re talking Pulitzer.

June 12, 2014

Driving While Gay

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Texas Governor Rick Perry, in a speech he gave in San Francisco on Wednesday night, said that, “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that. I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” Perry has often equated being gay with being an alcoholic, and of course he’s absolutely right, because the conditions are identical. Here are some things which I’ve done while under the influence of homosexuality:

– While driving gay, I once killed a busload of schoolchildren. With an offhand remark.

– I once became visibly gay at a party, and I vomited. Because of the wallpaper.

– A policeman once pulled me over and administered a test to determine how gay I was. The policeman was one of the Village People.

– I once became so gay that I lapsed into a coma. This was right after seeing Gypsy, Cage Aux Folles and Follies all in one weekend.

– I like to think of myself as only an occasional homosexual, but sometimes my gayness gets much worse. Sometimes I wake up gay.

– I once became so gay that I thought Rick Perry was cute. That was when I knew I needed help.

June 11, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: Call Me Maleficent

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As a working Mom, I applaud the new Disney feminism of such films as Frozen and Maleficent, because these movies believe in proudly upending stereotypes and even more importantly, in punishing men, especially wimpy princes. In Frozen, the heroine tossed out her underhanded boyfriend, in favor of sisterhood and a career in ice sculpture.

Maleficent tells the story of Sleeping Beauty, from the perspective of the wicked fairy queen. As the movie begins, Maleficent is an innocent child, who grows wings and is soon happily and wisely ruling the enchanted swamps and meadows of the fairy district, which is filled with adorable, muppet-like beasties and graceful, flittering sprites; this region pretty much resembles a toy store, or the bedroom of any spoiled suburban toddler. Then one day young Maleficent meets a slightly whiny prince and they become fast friends, with a hint of nuzzling. But the prince is ambitious, and his father wants Maleficent destroyed so he can rule the fairies, or at least trademark them. While Maleficent is napping, the scheming prince slices off her wings, creating a perfect Freudian case study. And how many times have I personally dozed off, only to awaken and wonder, where are my goddamn wings? Wasn’t my husband Josh supposed to pick them up at the dry cleaners?

Maleficent has by this point turned into Angelina Jolie, which is pretty much the best thing that can happen to anyone. Angelina places a curse on her ex-boyfriend’s new baby. The baby’s Mom is barely seen, because she’d interfere with the story’s sexual politics; she’s sort of the Jennifer Aniston figure. The baby, who’s named Aurora, becomes a bewitching child in the type of blonde wig which involves miles of blonde braids; it’s like a Game of Thrones wig, because it looks like it needs its own parking space. Against her better judgment, Maleficent bonds with Aurora and tries to revoke the curse, but it’s too late, and Aurora pricks her finger on a needle and falls into an eternal slumber.

The curse can only be broken by true love’s kiss, but when a handsome young prince makes the attempt, Aurora keeps snoozing, because this is the new, progressive Disney, where handsome young princes are no longer the answer. In this more politically aware Disney equation, Snow White might warble, “Someday My Prince Will Come, After I’ve Made Partner.” Finally, Maleficent kisses the sleeping Aurora, which does the trick, because nobody’s going to nap through an Angelina Jolie smooch. Maleficent is Aurora’s fairy godmother, so it’s as if Aurora is kissed by Hilary Clinton, or the spirit of Maya Angelou.

Maleficent and Aurora team up and defeat the bad guys, especially Maleficent’s nasty ex-boyfriend, and Maleficent gets her wings back, and I swear I could hear Gloria Steinem sobbing happily. Overall, the movie is a little sloggy and doesn’t make all that much sense, but who cares, because it’s got Angelina, wearing augmented cheekbones and horns, which emerge from a Joan Crawford turban. Angelina triumphs, because she’s so much wittier, sexier and more perverse than anything else in the movie; Angelina Jolie is the opposite of Disney.

And of course, Angelina is destined to someday play the title role in The Libby Gelman-Waxner Story. Who else has the range, the innate sensuality, and the chutzpah to play me, a Disney princess for the new millenium? Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Mulan and Libby – now we’re talking sisterhood, if you ask me.

June 10, 2014

We Believe

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A recent Gallup poll shows that 42% of all Americans sincerely believe that “God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago.” Here are some other things that these trusting Americans believe:

1. That a few minutes after God created humans in their present form, He created pants. And then cargo shorts. And then tube socks.

2. That while all humans must obey the Ten Commandments, God also wants His humans to thoroughly enjoy watching reality shows about people who break them. God has specifically mentioned Tori Spelling’s skanky husband, Dean.

3. That right after God created gay people, He said, “Oops!”

4. That even before God created snack chips, RVs and flatscreen TVs, He created guns, so that His humans could protect those things.

5. That God looks just like Santa, only slimmer and wearing white linen. God is just Santa for summer.

6. That every time a human uses any form of birth control, an angel is forced to return a baby gift to the store, such as crocheted booties or a onesie that says, “Unwanted But Adorable.”

7. That God created Republicans in His own image. Although, despite popular belief, this does not mean that God is chubby.

8. That dinosaurs are just mythical creatures invented to sell children’s picture books.

9. That while God speaks English, He can enjoy jokes which involve the use of wacky foreign accents.

10. That God created American humans first, which doesn’t mean that Americans are better than everyone else, but I’m just sayin’.

June 9, 2014

About Last Night

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Last night I attended the Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall, as the guest of my friend William Ivey Long, who’d been nominated for his glorious costumes in Bullets Over Broadway. I ended up being seated in the second row, which was a treat. I’d never been to the Tonys, or any big time awards ceremony, so the event was fascinating, and getting a good long look at the interior of Radio City was a bonus. Here are some observations:

The host, Hugh Jackman, was charm itself. There’s just something about watching such a big, hunky guy sing and dance so well; he’s irresistible, because you can tell that while he’s working hard, he’s having a great time. Musical theater tends to revolve around legendary female performers, which makes the male stars, from Robert Preston through Jerry Orbach to Hugh Jackman, worth treasuring.

The opening number involved Hugh Jackman bouncing up and down, all over the world. At the end of the telecast, he had the audience stand and bounce. No one seems quite sure of where this bouncing notion came from, or what it means. But only Hugh Jackman could get an entire audience on its feet, bouncing happily away.

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The hometown favorites were clearly Audra McDonald, winning her sixth Tony, for playing Billie Holiday in Lady Day, and Neal Patrick Harris, who won for Best Actor in a Musical, for his staggeringly great performance as Hedwig. When NPH did a number from Hedwig on the broadcast, he remained astonishing. Watching him up close, I could see that he’d completely changed his natural body language, to embody Hedwig, the quasi-transgendered German rock goddess. Both Audra McDonald and NPH have had careers in movies and on TV, but they continue to return to the theater.

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The terrific revival of Raisin In The Sun picked up a batch of awards, including a Best Supporting Actress nod for Sophie Okonedo, who gave an extremely gracious speech. She seems not only supremely talented, but like a genuinely great person. Even if she tortured a puppy in front of me, I would continue to believe this.

During the commercial breaks, staff members with headsets and walkie-talkies would fetch various celebrities from the audience, and their empty seats would be instantly filled by formally dressed seat-fillers, so the hall would never have empty spaces, like a smile with missing teeth. This is a practical system, but I wanted the seat-fillers to be Kevin Bacon or Lucy Liu look-a-likes.

Best-dressed: Vera Farmiga in form-fitting black, Patricia Clarkson in luscious red satin, Lucy Liu in a voluminous skirt and above all, legendary costume designer Jane Greenwood, who’d designed herself a stunning, shimmering pale green gown with a matching coat – this ensemble was perfectly scaled for such a huge theater.

The evening ended with an odd song from an upcoming musical about J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, called Finding Nerverland. During the number, a sumptuously gowned Jennifer Hudson sang a power ballad to a bed full of little boys in pajamas, and then, as Jennifer continued to belt out the number, someone dressed as Peter Pan did what looked like martial arts moves, while the stage was filled with a projection which resembled the hyperdrive moments from the early Star Wars movies. Jennifer Hudson sang beautifully, but she’s not going to be in the musical, so this sequence looked as if Whitney Houston had decided to visit the Darling family in their Edwardian home. I kept thinking, wait, those little boys don’t need so many gay signifiers – they’re already dancing on the Tonys.

June 7, 2014

What A Feeling

Here’s Sister Cristina, the young nun, in the performance for which she won Italy’s version of
The Voice:

It’s time for Cristina to become BFFs with Taylor Swift and Lorde, and to post selfies of
the three of them sharing cannoli and praying. Then I want Cristina to appear in a remake
of Flashdance, where she plays a determined girl who’s a nun by day and a stripper by
night. In the movie’s climax, she could take her final vows by dancing through the abbey
in a modest leotard.

June 6, 2014

Shameful Confessions

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1. Yesterday, when I saw the Word “Tianamen” online, for a split second I thought that it was referring to an LGBT gender-identification category which I’d never heard of.

2. I truly believe that gelato is just ice cream with motor oil added.

3. The more I read about the situation, the more I’m completely unable to formulate a coherent opinion on the Bowe Bergdahl case. And I’m trying desperately not to base my opinion on the hairstyles of Bergdahl’s creepy parents.

4. I’m beginning to believe that people who militantly refer to themselves as geeks or nerds are the new fascists.

5. While I always at least pretend to appreciate alternate points of view, I see no upside to street fairs. No one needs a fake Peruvian chunky-knit hemp cardigan, or some especially smelly food-on-a-stick, that badly.

6. I watched a news report on dogs being kept in cages at a shelter, and shockingly, none of the dogs made me go “Awww…look at the cute little doggie…” The dogs on this report weren’t sad or mangey, which would’ve made them heartbreaking – they were boring. It was the Olive Garden of animal shelters.

7. Every food is improved immeasureably when it’s eaten while lying down. This is not a shameful confession – this is a fact.

8. I love the mystery of anyone pushing an empty stroller.

June 5, 2014

Our Friend, Water

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On her blog, Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow has recently expressed her belief that water has feelings. She endorses the work of Dr. Masuru Emoto, whose book, The Hidden Messages in Water, claims that objects can be physicaly changed by “positive or negative words.” Writes Gwyneth, “I have long had Dr. Emoto’s coffee table book on how negativity changes the structure of water – how the molecules behave differently depending on the words or music being expressed around it.”

I completely support this theory, and here’s my scientific proof:

1. Just this morning, I scolded my flow of tap water for becoming cloudy. The water responded to my harsh words by crying.

2. While I was taking a shower, I heard certain molecules of water, which had become trapped in the less pleasant areas of my body, screaming for help, or death.

3. While sipping from a bottle of Evian, I heard the water sniggering, in the French manner.

4. As I was peeing, I was singing an acapella version of “Let It Go” from the Disney hit, Frozen. In triumphant response, my urine flew onto the floor and the wall.

5. During the rinse cycle of my Maytag, I became aware that certain molecules of water had actually drowned, because I had used a toxic fabric softener. This was explained to me by grieving members of the dead molecules’ families.

6. I hummed the Dolly Parton anthem, I Will Always Love You, to an ice cube. The ice cube melted.

7. As a test, I read aloud from Gwyneth’s blog directly to a glass of water. The water threw itself in my face.

8. Here’s a photo of Gwyneth, in which I believe that she’s having joyous, consensual sex with the ocean:

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Blognick