“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: July 2014

July 31, 2014

Urban Legends


That somewhere on West End Avenue, a 21-year-old is living in his late grandmother’s 12 room, rent-controlled apartment, and paying $125 a month in rent

That because you never use it, your stove will never break

That if you never clean your bathroom, eventually it will be landmarked

That due to the progress of civil rights, gay people no longer cluster in certain neighborhoods – except for Hell’s Kitchen, where you can cast a Broadway show, its first replacement cast, and its first national tour, on any block

That shopping at Trader Joe’s somehow helps the environment

That someday, every one-bedroom apartment will also have a Dunkin Donuts in either the hall closet or the half-bath

That Marc Jacobs is now legally allowed to seize any property in the West Village, including private homes, and open another pop-up boutique

July 30, 2014



Why does some tiny, perverse little part of me want to watch Sarah Palin’s new cable channel? Is it because, when Sarah’s unscripted and starts to flail, she can become trainwreck riveting? Or is it because the channel promises not only Sarah’s political rantings but a behind-the-scenes look at Sarah “as mother, grandmother, wife and neighbor”? And why do I want to hear from Sarah’s neighbors most of all?

Why do some people become obsessively outraged by inconsistencies in sci-fi or action movies? I’m talking about the guy who, as he’s leaving the theater, says something like, “But you CAN’T change the future during time travel to the past, everyone KNOWS that!”

What gives someone the ability to hold an extended conversation, about an issue in their personal life, with a bank teller or supermarket cashier, while there are 12 people waiting on line behind them?

Why can’t Beyonce solve the problems in the Middle East? I bet that if she was willing to host the event, all of the various factions would at least show up at the conference table, for the selfie opportunities alone.

The English artist Tracy Emin has created an artwork called “My Bed”, which features Ms. Emin’s actual bed, with crumpled, stained sheets, cigarette butts, condoms and empty vodka bottles; Ms. Emin has said that the piece represents a time in her life when she was severely depressed. My Bed was just sold for 4.3 million dollars to a German collector. Should this sale make other severely depressed people feel:

A) More depressed, because their depression isn’t making them a dime
B) Inspired, because Tracy has proved that severe depression is now a lucrative career move
C) Jealous, because if Tracy was so depressed, why did she need condoms?

July 28, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: I Love Lucy


I think that Scarlett Johansson is currently the coolest human being on the planet, and I’m not saying that just because, like me, she’s a stunningly beautiful, deeply gifted and sensual Jewish woman. In her new hit movie Lucy, Scarlett plays a girl studying something or other in Taiwan, who’s forced to become a drug mule and who, after she accidentally receives an extremely high dosage of a new designer substance, becomes the smartest person who’s ever lived and experiences the birth of the universe. And of course all I kept thinking was: this is my story.

Just this past weekend when I was out on Long Island, transferring two 12-packs of paper towels into my mini-van at Costco, a woman rammed me with her jumbo shopping cart from behind. This woman claimed that she couldn’t see me because her own cart was piled so high with five 64-packs of toilet paper. We got into a terrible shouting match which resulted in me screaming, “Who needs that much toilet paper? Is your cooking that bad?” Anyway, for the rest of the weekend, my lower back was aching so badly that I took three Advils and I asked my husband Josh if I could also have a Margarita, and when he said that mixing drugs and alcohol is never a good idea, I just thought to myself, Josh, you’re an orthodontist, which isn’t the same thing as being a real doctor, so I took the pills with an iced coffee spiked with skim milk and tequila.
And that’s when, just like with Scarlett, my mind started to expand.

Scarlett’s progress is monitored by Morgan Freeman, as a scientist who studies what he keeps calling “cerebral capacity”, as if Scarlett’s head was an advanced washer/dryer. According to Morgan, most humans only use a few percentage points of their brains, but when Scarlett hits 20%, she can not only crawl on the ceiling, but she can disable a platoon of armed gunmen within seconds and even more impressively, without visiting a salon or even using her hands, she can change both her hair color and the length of her bangs. When I started functioning at 20%, I found that I could not only swallow an entire sleeve of Oreos without chewing, but that I was suddenly able to fast-forward through DVR’d TV shows where, according to an introductory onscreen warning, the FAST FORWARD FUNCTION WAS NOT AVAILABLE.

Once Scarlett reaches 40%, she’s able to drive super-fast the wrong way through the streets of Paris, which means that the drug has somehow made her French. Then her body starts to morph into all sorts of strange shapes, she kisses a rugged French detective, and she acquires a gorgeous black cocktail dress and a pair of Louboutin spike heels. As for me, at 40% I found that I was able, for the first time in my life, to order a batch of slouchy leather totebags from QVC, in every color – okay, this wasn’t actually the first time when this had happened, but it was the first time I’d done it without telling myself, “You need the Washed Periwinkle bag in case you’re ever invited to a wedding where the invitation stipulates Wear Washed Periwinkle.”

Finally, as Scarlett nears 100%, she begins to envision the entire history of the world in Times Square, starting in the present day and then, in super fast-motion, regressing to the 1800s, when there were dirt roads and gaslights; then back to the days when Native Americans rode their horses right through what’s now a Marriot and a Forever 21; and then zipping even further back, to when the dinosaurs roamed right through what would now be a matinee of Matilda, as if the dinosaurs were tourists from Wyoming who’d gotten half-price tickets because they’d heard that the show was good but not great. Once I started to circle 100%, I had a similar reaction to Scarlett’s, only at first I experienced a Spice Girls video which had also been shot in fast-motion in Times Square. Then I saw the Times Square of the 1980s, when it was still a dangerous neighborhood without any available yogurt or smoothies, and then I hurtled even further back to my earliest childhood, when there was a Howard Johnson’s and absolutely no people dressed as Spiderman who spit at you if, after you’ve had your picture taken with your arm around them, you only tip them a dollar.

It was a little hard to figure out, but ultimately Scarlett turns into either God or a super-computer or a Discovery Channel documentary called something like A Day In The Life Of Our Big Old World. The reason I love Scarlett is that she manages to star in a movie like this while still seeming smart, sexy and funny; she takes the whole thing seriously, but not too much. Scarlett has now given completely delightful performances in everything from Woody Allen movies to sci-fi blockbusters, and she’s even won a well-deserved Tony for her first time on Broadway. And as with the greatest stars, she makes it all look easy.

As for me, once I’d recovered from my overdose, my lower back felt much better, and I found that someone in our house had eaten an entire box of delicious extra-spicy dog treats. So, as with Lucy, my mind-exploding day had been something of a cautionary tale. I learned that maybe, just like Sarah Palin, I don’t need to use all of my brain all of the time. Just like with wearing linen or anything strapless, I think I’ll save my entire brain for special occasions, if you ask me.

July 27, 2014

If I Was A Disney Princess


I would publish an inspirational, Sheryl Sandberg-type book for commoners, entitled Marry Up

I would appoint a Fantasyland Commission to investigate the effects of climate change on talking animals

I would visit all of the elementary schools in the land, and tell all of the little girls that they can become anything they want to be, especially if they’re really pretty, like me

I would petition the Disney animators to give me a complete nose, instead of just two tiny nostril dots

I would impose an additional tax on all party-related paper goods, including paper plates, gift bags, napkins and crepe paper centerpieces, which bore my image

I would reveal the secret of my beautiful hair: asbestos

I would reach out to Mulan, Jasmine and all of the other princesses from troubled regions, and I would beg them not to provide any warring factions with magical spells or power ballads

I would visit Times Square and all of the Disney theme parks worldwide, and I would thank all of the women who’d been hired to dress up like me and pose for photos with children and families, and I would end their suffering, by getting them real jobs painting figurines with lead-based paint in my enchanted sweatshops

July 26, 2014

Enough Already


Sometimes I come across snippets of information about other peoples’ lives, often in the NY Times. At first I’m intrigued and want to know more, but upon further reflection I realize, nope, that’s plenty.

For example:

This was from an article about Friedrich Liechtenstein, a German performance artist who spent a year living in a stairwell as “an ornamental hermit.” He “will soon begin filming a 10-part television series about the romance of gas stations.”

But will ten parts really be enough, to fully capture the romance?

An article about life coaches focused on Tamara Mellon, “a founder of Jimmy Choo shoes and mother of Minty, 12.” “‘You get over one thing and you get slammed with something else,’ said Ms. Mellon, 47, looking slinky in a crisp white blazer, a high-slit skirt and gladiator sandals. She recalled some of her ordeals: her father’s death, two hostile takeover attempts, taking her mother to court. ‘It’s a miracle I’m still here,’ she said.”

It’s never easy to take your Mom to court, but sometimes it has to be done.

Finally, there was a piece on a Jewish work farm in Connecticut, where mostly younger Jews pay lots of money to live in things called “instructional yurts” and provide products for “the boutique Jewish marketplace”, including “ethically butchered kosher meat.” These kids will also celebrate Passover in the California desert, as part of something called “Wilderness Torah.” This group went too far, when on a recent evening after dinner, they discussed how God created humanity, and whether “the dust of creation came from the four corners of the Earth.” This is impossible, because in the words of a fine Jewish woman like my mother, “THERE IS NO DUST IN THIS HOUSE.”

July 25, 2014



Q. What are the real Seven Habits of the Most Highly Effective People?

1. Constant snacking
2. The ability to walk to the gym, change into your gym clothes, and then decide “not today” and go home
3. Differentiating “lying down for a few minutes” from “taking a nap”
4. Deciding that the Fedex delivery person has seen plenty of recipients with crumbs on their t-shirts
5. Obsessively following a recent murder which occured when, after a drunken wife discovered her drunken husband having sex with another man, the husband and wife both boarded the same jet-ski, with the husband pushing his wife off the jet-ski three separate times before leaving her for dead on a sandbar. Why is anyone talking about the Middle East when this case is still only a few days old?
5. Spending a great deal of time naming your imaginary yacht, with an emphasis on names like “Sea More” and “Ocean View”
6. Feeling deeply superior every Friday because you don’t have a second home in the Hamptons, so you don’t have to fight the traffic
7. Comparison shopping for chocolate-covered peanuts

Q. When an adult website asks you to click on the box labelled I Understand and I Wish To Continue, regarding the site’s adult content, has anyone in the history of the world ever clicked on the No Thank You box?

A. No.

Q. After the vows, should the person presiding over any wedding ceremony ask the participants, “Do you understand and wish to continue?”

A. Yes.

Q. With regard to certain spellings and phrases, do all dictionaries and grammar sites change their decisions randomly, every other day?

A. Yes, especially when discussing all right and alright, and any more and anymore.

Q. Because of basic human compassion and political correctness, should no one ever refer to another person as fat, stupid or crazy?

A. Yes.

Q. Are most people on earth fat, stupid and crazy?

A. Yes.

Q. Then what should we call each other?

A. Brave.

July 24, 2014

Gunpowder and Lead

Here’s the live video of this Miranda Lambert song – because
i like the fact that country artists are allowed to sing,
triumphantly, about killing their abusive husbands.

July 23, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: Magic Woody


Let’s say that you buy a set of deluxe postcards at a museum gift shop, and the postcards are labeled something like French Country Gardens or Chateaux of Provence. Then onto the postcards, you photoshop portraits of fancy, attractive movie stars in lovely period costumes. Then, as you slowly look at each postcard, one at a time, you should also listen to a CD of tinkly, nostalgic tunes from the 1920s. Then take a nice long nap in a hammock. You have now pretty much experienced the new Woody Allen movie Magic In The Moonlight.

I love Woody, but many of his most recent films have been sunlit travelogues set in various high-end European vacation spots, including Paris, London and Rome. Woody’s starting to remind me of Thomas Kinkade, that kitschy, mega-selling artist who painted mostly gooey oils of fantasy cottages with lush gardens, and who called himself the Painter of Light. Woody’s turning into the Director of Light, or maybe the Director of Brochures. Of course, I was distracted during this film by some loud whimpering noises, which were coming from my dear friend, the still tragically single Stacy Schiff. Stacy was sobbing and touching herself inappropriately, because the movie stars Colin Firth, and since James Garner died and House went off the air, Colin is pretty much the go-to lust object for ladies of a certain age.

Colin plays a magician who specializes in debunking phony psychics and spiritualists, and he travels to France to expose Emma Stone, who’s playing a flirtatious young mystic. “Oh my God,” said Stacy, “This is too much! How can I fantasize about Colin when his love interest is gorgeous and almost thirty years younger than he is?” The movie never mentions this age gap, but Colin and Emma both look uncomfortable, especially when they’re supposed to be bantering and falling in love, and Colin seems more like Emma’s suave, erudite Dad. “I can’t believe it,” Stacy moaned, “only Woody Allen could make Colin seem creepy.”

The movie is packed with wonderful actors, all of whom get the same, slightly panicky look on their faces, when they’re being asked to deliver high school drama club dialogue; I could see them thinking, “But Woody’s a genius, right? So this is gonna be great, right?” Woody always attracts amazing groups of stars, so his movies can seem like ultra-refined cruise ship packages featuring name entertainment, or really polite celebrity roasts. In Magic In The Moonlight, Colin has many extended speeches about whether God exists, and about whether people need the illusion of magic to make their lives bearable. I asked Stacy what she thought about all this, and she said, “Well, I believe in God because He made Colin and coconut cake and movie-theater-arctic air-conditioning. And I think that maybe I’m a little bit psychic because the minute someone in this movie started playing a ukelele, I know we were in trouble.”

As for me, I believe in God because He gave us the trailer for that upcoming thriller Lucy, in which Scarlett Johannsen plays a girl who, after some genetic tinkering, begins to use 100% of her brain, giving her superpowers. I’m always a sucker for this plot device, like in Limitless, that flick where Bradley Cooper swallowed special smart pills and began thinking really fast and making a fortune on Wall Street. And I certainly believe in movie magic, because there are plenty of scenes in Woody’s latest where I was happy to just appreciate the vases and the hats. When it’s getting towards the end of July, sometimes a few beaded flapper gowns and plenty of uniformed servants are all the magic I need, if you ask me.

July 22, 2014



Marvel has announced that in an upcoming edition, Thor will be a woman, and that the new Captain America will be black. And while there have been gay superheroes, and Archie Andrews has recently taken a bullet for his gay friend, Kevin, we could still use a re-thinking of a central icon. Because if Superman was gay:

– It would explain the cape.

– Because he’s such a good guy, he’d still save people in the states where he couldn’t get married.

– He’d get really tired of the “So are you seeing Batman?” jokes, especially because they met on Supr, a hookup site for heroes, and it didn’t really click.

– Instead of Kryptonite, his weaknesses would be Mallomars and Joan Collins movies.

– Other gay men would hate him because he looks like that, and he never has to work out.

– His mother would still keep asking him about Lois Lane.

– Just to bug him, online trolls would say, “I’m sorry, but I think that Clark Kent is way hotter.”

– He would use his x-ray vision to check on the fiber content of his t-shirts and sheets.

– Ma and Pa Kent would join PFlag.

– Superman would tell the X-Men, “So all of you basically have just one superpower each. Well, I think that’s adorable.”

– His tagline would become “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and in your dreams, Ironman.”

– Matt Bomer would make him feel fat.

– In private, he’d refer to Superboy as “the twink.”

-When the viciously homophobic Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was in terrible trouble, Superman would somehow arrive a microsecond too late to rescue him. Also, when evangelical Christians Scott Lively and Rick Warren, who have both actively supported Uganda’s homicidal hatred of gay people, needed a hand, Superman would be on a break. But in both instances, Superman would issue a statement to the media, reading, “Oops.”

– He would worry that his iconic hands-on-hips pose, in front of a rippling American flag, was too stereotypical.

– He would finally know what it meant to be a role model.

July 21, 2014

The Day After The Day After Tomorrow

th_012There have been countless Young Adult novels devoted to dreary dystopian futures, and there are currently TV shows which depict a future where: a mysterious plague has wiped out over 80% of the world’s population (The Last Ship), a mysterious plague has made all women infertile (The Lottery), and astronaut Halle Berry has a robot child and then mysteriously gets pregnant while alone in outer space (Extant.) Here are some other possible tomorrows:

1. A future in which the only people left alive are still arguing over whether Jennifer Lawrence was too old or too healthy to play Katniss in The Hunger Games movies.

2. A future in which a mysterious plague has eliminated all of the nannies, so the human race dies out, at least in Tribeca.

3. A future in which Halle Berry’s space baby grows up and asks Halle how come, in all shows and movies about space travel, whether it’s Raquel Welch in Fantastic Voyage or Sandra Bullock in Gravity, the female astronauts always wear formfitting spacesuits and eventually, lingerie? The space baby will also ask why, in the future, are all female scientists, surgeons and astronauts required to maintain hairstyles which keep their bangs in their eyes?

4. A future in which a mysterious plague has killed only the unpleasant and depressed people, so the earth is now populated entirely by cheerful, helpful folks, until a bloodthirsty war breaks out between the people who say “Have a good one!” and the people who say “Have a blessed day!”

5. A future in which, thanks to climate change, your mother was right and you do need a sweater.

6. A future in which Young Adult novels and films focus on young people who study hard and get good jobs, without whining about how no one “gets” them or appreciates their favorite tunes, without which they would literally die.

7. A future in which the apes take over, and start to develop movie and TV projects in which the humans take over.

July 20, 2014

You’re Welcome


It’s always fun when the Religious Right takes the bait and responds to any kind of satire. This week I had a Shouts&Murmurs piece called Hobby Lobbyist in The New Yorker, which dealt with the intersection of Christianity and crafting. Tim Graham runs a website called Newsbusters, devoted to “Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias”, which sounds as if Tim and his righteous followers burst in, with badges and bazookas. Tim gave his story the memorable headline: “The New Yorker Mocks Hobby Lobby With The ‘Crotch Cozy'”, and announced that my piece demonstrated the “self-congratulatory secular superiority of The New Yorker and its readership.” Tim referred to me as “Gay playwright and screenwriter Paul Rudnick”, which is exactly what appears on my business card.

The comments which followed Tim’s tale were, if anything, far more vehement, and exemplify the biblical term “panties in a bunch.” They included:

“There is a special place in hell for this offensive mockery.”

“It’s a good thing for him God is all-merciful.”

“I guess a plastic crucifix in a jar of urine is more this puke’s idea of crafting…No…Wait, it’s actually more his and his ilk’s idea of ‘art’.”

“With his freak lifestyle, this guy has more to worry about than Hobby Lobby.”

And my absolute favorite:

“My wife went to the Hobby Lobby in Morehead City on Friday. She said the people there were so nice and helpful. They have to put up with crap like this.”

At least now we know the true agony of working at Hobby Lobby: not only will the store’s health insurance refuse to cover birth control, but employees are also forced to read The New Yorker.

July 19, 2014

Wait, When You Say “Gay Marriage”…

th_108th_040Florida Governor Rick Scott, when asked about gay marriage, replied, “People have a different view about it in our state. But in 2008, the voters decided that this state would be a traditional marriage state. It’s going through the court system. But what’s important to me is I don’t want anybody discriminated against.”

I’d like to help Governor Scott make even less sense. So in the future, he should feel free to use the following remarks:

“Here in Florida, gay people should be allowed to get married as long as one of the partners’ names is Susan. Our voters don’t care which partner.”

“Here at Florida’s world-famous Disneyworld, our voters believe that Mickey and Minnie should be allowed to get married, but if Mickey wants to marry Goofy, that would require a rabies shot and a flea collar.”

“I would like to see gay marriage in Tampa, but only partial gay marriage in St. Petersburg. That way people could chose, but everyone could still enjoy our beautiful sunshine.”

“If I was gay, I would get married in New York but purchase a second home in Coral Gables, where I would tell people that I was married, but then I’d laugh, so if those people were opposed to gay marriage they could think I was joshing.”

“I think our voters would agree that all sorts of marriages are allowed in Fort Lauderdale, but only over Spring Break, and only if both partners are drunk and wearing huge joke sunglasses.”

“Here in Florida the voters believe in traditional marriage, but if two male or female oranges wanted to get married, I’m sure that everyone would enjoy drinking the delicious juice which resulted from those marriages, especially on Sunday morning with vodka.”