“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: September 2014

September 29, 2014

You Tell Me


In the photo above, what exactly is going on?

1. It’s a picture of an Orthodox Jew, whose religion prohibits him from flying over cemeteries. The plastic bag creates a barrier between the Jew and the dead. Ultra-orthodox Jews are wary of this makeshift solution, and claim that punching breathing holes in the plastic destroys the sanctity of the barrier.

2. When this man gets home, his wife, to quote Joan Rivers, will announce, “Leftovers again?”

3. It’s a contestant on the popular Israeli game show “What Did You Bring Me?”

4. It’s an opening night gift basket for the cast of Fiddler on the Roof.

5. It’s the only foolproof way to avoid STDs. And rain.

6. It’s an Israeli astronaut.

7. It’s proof that anything can be dry-cleaned.

8. It’s a tropical fish wearing a yarmulke.

9. It’s a freeze-dried Messiah.



September 28, 2014

Scenes From The Class Struggle in Lower Manhattan


A mega-wealthy couple tore down the ugly, non-historically interesting buildings on a full block of Greenwich Street; they’d purchased the property in 2001 for 7.5 milion dollars. They proceeded to build a single family, three story, 12,000 square foot home which filled the block and resembles a fortress, or a sewage treatment plant. The couple never moved in, and listed the building for 25 million dollars. It just sold for 42.5 million dollars. Here’s the tragedy of this story: because the sale was never listed online, there haven’t been any photos of the interior for the rest of us to critique.

Yesterday I got into a cab. As he drove, the cabbie continued speaking very loudly into his cellphone. Even talking on a Bluetooth while driving is illegal, and all cabdrivers know this, so I politely asked the driver not to use the phone. He looked at me incredulously and said, “No, I need a few minutes, this is an international call.” So I assumed that he wasn’t a cabdriver but a CAA agent, and I got out of the cab.

They’ve opened the first NYC Denny’s, in Tribeca. The great thing isn’t just that they hired a mixologist to create artisanal cocktails, it’s that the place is designed to look like an industrial  loft, circa 1988, with embossed tin ceilings and decorative bits of non-specific machinery. It’s as if Disneyworld now includes a Soholand,

Whenever someone builds a mansion like the one described and pictured above, everyone in the neighborhood always gossips that the owners are either Russian oligarchs or Israeli businessmen. Anything slightly less expensive and invasive, but still grotesque, is considered to be the home of a Hedge Fund manager. All of these people would make suitable Bond villains.

Interestingly, the sellers of the property above are actually a Texas oil heiress and her screenwriter spouse. Who would still make suitable Bond villains.

The Sunday morning line for the grungy bagel store on Hudson Street snakes onto the street. I join this single-file line. A dude in full $5000-bicycle spandex approaches me and asks, “You waitin’?”

Pushing the stroller, carrying another child on your chest in a Snugli, talking on the phone, walking the dog, wearing your sunglasses on the top of your head: you’re only allowed to do, at most, three of these things at the same time. Choose.

When I see a young, attractive, in-shape couple, usually wearing coordinated workout gear, strolling and discussing their brunch options, I always want to ask them: haven’t you read Gone Girl?

September 27, 2014

The Name

When I was a child, I always loved finding my name anywhere in the world – this was clearly not an indication of a healthy personality. When my family took a cross-country car trip, we came upon an establishment in Los Angeles called RUDNICK MEN AND BOYS. And while this clothing store has since closed, the name pretty much says it all.

I feel a kinship with all Rudnicks everywhere, and I was especially thrilled to discover a Rudnick Avenue, also in California. Here are some other Rudnicks, and while I don’t know what’s being sold in the second photo, I’m sure that it’s of Rudnick quality:

rudnick-estates-novato 07082014_rudnick3_interna brianrudnick1andrew-rudnick-a-legend-in-medspa-industry-1-638

September 26, 2014

It’s The Law

Last night I watched the premiere of How To Get Away With Murder, starring the glorious Viola Davis. I loved the show, because it accomplished what every great program centering on the legal profession, from The Paper Chase to Boston Legal, needs to do: the show made being a lawyer seem improbably sexy, thrilling and dangerous. On HTGAWM, the characters were always racing around, hiding bodies, interrupting adulterous trysts, seducing witnesses and, of course, bursting into courtrooms at the last possible second with that new scrap of evidence which will CHANGE EVERYTHING.

I began wondering, if I had an especially momentous legal problem, where I would turn for assistance. Here are some options:

1. If I wanted serious, ethical representation, I would hire Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski from The Good Wife. These women are fiendishly smart, gorgeously dressed and they pretty much never lose a case. If any juror had doubts, he or she would just think, I have to go with Julianna and Christine – look at their handbags.

The Line

2. If I wanted a super high-end unscrupulous legal team, I would beg the firm from Suits to take my case. Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams are handsome and devilish, and Gabriel wears custom-made Tom Ford suits, so he’s obviously doing very well. And if I wanted the best of the best, I’d hire senior partner Gina Torres, who’s beyond awesome, and whose superb designer outfits are so snug that she never seems to sit down. I’m pretty sure that Ruth Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor all want to be Gina Torres, because then that repulsive Justice Scalia wouldn’t stand a chance.


3. If I was very, very guilty I’d head right to Viola Davis, because even though there’s only been one episode of the show so far, every single character, including Viola, has demonstrated a willingness to lie on behalf of a client, or sometimes just because they enjoy lying.Viola is so brilliant, sensual and mysterious that I can picture her taking out a pistol in court, shooting an uncooperative witness in front of the jury, and then asking, “So who are you going to believe? Me or some dead guy?”


September 25, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: Equalized

Denzel-Washington-in-The-Equalizer-2014-Movie-ImageThere is nothing in my life which Denzel Washington couldn’t fix, just the way he fixes everything in The Equalizer, even though the title of this movie does sound like a new weight loss product. The movie is based on the TV series of the same name, where Edward Woodward played a powerful, mysterious figure who would appear out of nowhere to help people, and then he’d vanish before they could tip him. Edward was one of those hearthrobs for ladies of a certain age, right up there with James Garner in The Rockford Files and Hugh Laurie in House. My Mom, the beloved Sondra Krell-Gelman, adored all of these men, and when I asked her why, she said, “Because they look like they could kill a spider, stand on a ladder and replace a lightbulb, fix a leaky faucet, have sex with you, and then leave quietly without waking you up. They’re like perfect, handsome husbands, because you never have to listen to them snore in their recliners.”

In The Equalizer, Denzel joins this admirable platoon of helpful, slightly arthritic studs, and he also makes a bid to join Liam Neeson as an action star for the AARP-and-Advil crowd. As the movie opens, Denzel is living alone in an immaculate apartment, he works at a Home Depot-type big box store, and he loves to read, all of which makes him assisted-living porn. At his local diner, Denzel befriends a very young prostitute, and it’s the kind of movie where the hookers wear brand-new sequinned mini-skirts and a variety of colorful wigs, as if they’re more polite versions of Hannah Montana. The villains are, of course, sadistic Russian mobsters, who have demonic full-body tattoos and complicated facial hair; I’m sure that at K-Mart, kids can now purchase Sadistic Russian Mobster Halloween costumes. The mobsters rough up the very young prostitute, and this doesn’t sit well with Denzel.

I’m hereby offering a Spoiler Alert, for anyone who has never seen a movie or a TV show about anything. But it turns out that Denzel is actually some sort of semi-retired, deeply moral, highly-trained CIA assassin, who can slaughter a strip bar full of Russian mobsters without even raising his heart rate, which must make his cardiologist very happy. Denzel looks great, and he kills the bad guys with more ingenuity than brute force; he’s like McGyver with a higher body count. What’s charming about this movie is that it feels like a blend of a 1980s TV show and a Humphrey Bogart movie, where the bad girls all have hearts of gold, and Denzel has an old-fashioned code of honor; he’s Andy Griffith wielding a nail gun.

By the end of the movie Denzel goes online to offer his services to all those in need. My mind reeled, as I imagined texting him to pick up my dry-cleaning, return a Donna Karan drape-front jersey cardigan, which I’d only worn once, to Saks for a full refund, and then, if he had the time, Denzel could strangle the man in my building who let his dog defecate in the elevator without cleaning it up. Maybe Denzel’s next action blockbuster can be called Fresh Direct, if you ask me.

September 24, 2014

Things I Will Personally Do To Fight Climate Change

Climate-changeI will read portions of articles on climate change and I will feel guilty about not finishing them, because I needed to read that nearby article about the high school teacher who was having sex with practically the entire class of graduating seniors.

I will tell my imaginary grandchildren that climate change only happened because of the way they treat me, unlike those wonderful imaginary grandchildren next door, who treat their imaginary grandfather like a treasure.

After I use any of the toilets at Leonardo DiCaprio’s estate, I won’t flush.

Yesterday I walked fifteen blocks in midtown, due to the traffic tie-ups caused by the President’s visit, to address the UN regarding climate change. The plan is working!

I will recycle my rage by aiming it at people on bicycles.

I will water my plants with my tears.

I will use the online version of Facebook instead of the more wasteful printed edition.




September 22, 2014

Just a Thought

Pictures-New-Orbit-Baby-Double-Helix-Double-StrollerHomicide is where mild daily irritation meets opportunity.

When dogs vomit, they look sheepish and abashed. When cats vomit, they look proud.

The shockingly wasteful overuse of paper towels is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Able-bodied people who live on the second floor and still use the elevator are morally unreachable.

25% off does not count as a sale. It’s more of a nod.

ISIS sounds like a budget aftershave, for men who wear black bikini briefs.

There seem to be many  kinds of double strollers, presumably for twins. In one design, the twins are stacked vertically, as if one twin deserves the penthouse. In the horizontal option, the twins are lined up, as if the first twin is either superior, or the shield. In the terrifying photo above, the twins face one another, at varying heights, as a constant reminder of the pecking order. In any of these cases, the psychological trauma is profound. But happily, all twins are already doomed.


September 20, 2014





When you’re in the right mood, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, as deeply satisfying as any episode of Dateline, the show which specializes in the seediest and most cartoonish smalltown crimes. Here’s all you need:

The tale must be set in either Colorado, North Dakota or South Carolina, where the license plates read “The Creepy Love Triangle State.”

The estranged first wife must look like a stoic, tennis-playing, PTA Mom with a Dennis the Menace haircut.

The girlfriend must be an ex-cheerleader turned self-described “high-end” stripper turned “executive assistant” to a powerful older man. A recent young lady had received her online Masters Degree, in Leadership and Management, from Jerry Falwell University.

The disgusting husband must be a well-to-do banker or the owner of a Hyundai dealership. He must be described by his Mom and his attorney as “a family man” and “a pillar of the community.” He must have a completely round head and look very, very guilty.

The hit man, most often the stripper’s ex-husband, must be an ex-convict and a substance abuser covered in tattoos which look like bad xeroxes of tattoos. A scraggly soul patch never hurts, and missing teeth are a must.

When the stripper appears in court, she must wear a black skirt, low heels, a white blouse with a frilly collar, and a cardigan. This look is called “pious murderess.”

When asked how they remained hopeful throughout the trial, all of the people listed above must reply, “my faith.”

The stripper and the husband will almost always call each other up while one or both of them are in jail, while awaiting trial. They will sometimes speak in an easily broken code. They will have phone sex. On a recent episode, the husband told the stripper that very soon, they’d be together again, to which the stripper responded, “I know we will. You, me and Jesus.”

The courtroom must look like a finished basement rec room with fluorescent lighting.

The jury must include people who look like they’re being played by Wilfred Brimley, Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig.

September 19, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: This Is Where I Leave You




This Is Where I Leave You brings together such an amazing batch of actors that I almost didn’t notice how desperately the movie is trying not to seem too Jewish. It’s about a family named Altman who are sitting shiva, but as one character explains, the mother isn’t Jewish and the Dad, who’s just died, was an atheist. It’s  like a middle-period Neil Simon play, where the characters are named Nancy and Bill, but they behave like Borscht-belt comics. The story centers on the problems of a straight, rich, early middle-aged white guy, and it’s the kind of story where emotional freedom is symbolized by a ride in a fancy sports car.

Luckily, the white guy is played by Jason Bateman, who’s so effortlessly appealing that he even looks good in a scruffy beard – the beard is another tip-off to his wisecracking depression. Jason returns to his family’s gorgeously landscaped suburban colonial, where a number of scenes are upstaged by the wallpaper. Jason’s Mom is played by the impossibly gorgeous Jane Fonda, whose surgeon deserves his own Academy Award, because Jane never looks pinched or yanked or frozen; as my own mother, the beloved Sondra Krell-Gelman commented, “Jane Fonda was put on this earth to make Charlize Theron feel homely.” Jason’s brothers are Corey Stoll and Adam Driver, whose characters are respectively solid and boring, and sexy and irresponsible, so it’s a little like watching Corey and Adam in The Star-Spangled Girl or Boeing-Boeing at the Westport Melody Tent.

The always heavenly Tina Fey plays Jason’s grouchy married sister, and Tina’s only problem is that she’s just naturally way more interesting than that. Tina is secretly still in love with the boy next door, who’s played by Timothy Olyphant. Tina and Timothy had a long-ago romance which ended with Timothy’s non-specific head injury, which seems to have resulted in memory loss and a bad wig. Timothy’s disability keeps these lovers apart, but come on: when a guy is as dreamy as Timothy in a t-shirt, no sane person would care if he occasionally forgot his address. At one point Tina is also required to tenderly brush a strand from Timothy’s head-injury wig out of his eyes, a gesture which will always be a sure-fire mood killer.

Everyone in the movie has a dramedy-style problem, including infidelity, infertility, widowhood and age-inappropriate romance, and all of these troubles are solved by the characters curling up beside each other, talking, joking, hugging and then joking about hugging. There are also running gags involving potty training, a rabbi, marajuana and teenage masturbation, as if every member of the family has his or her own lounge act. The wonderful Rose Byrne, and her pirouetting body double, play a figure-skating possible love interest for Jason, and they’re saddled with rust-colored, rippling hair. In fact, most of the women in this movie have been assigned hair which can’t decide if it wants to be brown or blonde, so it settles for an orangey bronde. Rose also keeps using peoples’ full names, as in “Judd Altman, you’re a good man” or “Judd Altman, I like you.”

While I was watching this movie, all I kept thinking was, none of this would ever happen at, say, a Gelman-Waxner Passover seder. No one would ever climb out onto a rooftop for a wistful midnight chat, or get high and accidentally set off a sprinkler system. The women would just eat and compare handbags while the men discussed buying every Palestinian a microwave and a ride-on mower, as a show of good faith. We would never talk about our feelings or the nature of love, not if we could all watch a few minutes of something on Netflix, and then take a nap, if you ask me.


September 15, 2014



Tonight I attended the American Theater Wing’s tribute to Dame Angela Lansbury, which was a wonderful treat. The entertainment included such glorious performers as Christine Ebersole, Glenn Close and Harvey Fierstein (Harvey sang a sensational, full-throated version of The Man In The Moon Is a Lady, from Mame.) A great highlight was the appearance of Len Cariou, who’d followed George Hearn in the title role of the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd, where Ms. Lansbury had so memorably created the role of Mrs. Lovett.

At the tribute, Cariou sang a deliciously funny, updated version of There Is Nothing Like A Dame, and then he sang sections from the opening of Sweeney Todd and one of that show’s most haunting songs, Pretty Women. His voice was astonishingly strong and thrilling. I’d seen that original production more than once and, thanks to Stephen Sondheim’s now-legendary score, Hal Prince’s production, with a vast set resembling a Dickensian workhouse, and Cariou and Hearn and  Lansbury, the show had been overwhelming – melodic and witty and terrifying at the same time. It had also been controversial, and some critics hadn’t known quite what to make of it. Johnny Depp played Sweeney in the film version and he was very good, but Len Cariou was, and is, tragic and monumental.

Dame Angela herself was, as always, blissfully gracious. Nearing 90, she looks fantastic and can’t stop working. I hadn’t remembered that, as very young actress, she’d been Oscar-nominated for her first two movies, Gaslight and Dorian Gray. She’s also won five Tony Awards.

September 12, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: Art and Stuff



Many people have asked me, Libby, what is art? They usually ask me this after they’ve just seen a critically acclaimed independant film that went on just a little too long and involved a lot of closeups of puddles while it’s raining. Because I’m here to help, I will now, once and for all, define art:

1. Art is something that’s interesting and boring at the same time.

2. Art is about watching attractive people suffer. This is different from Life, which is about watching unattractive people suffer, sometimes in your apartment.

3. Art is what happens when a movie can’t afford special effects.

4. Art is a way for artists to monetize what their parents did to them.

5. Art often demands a lot of lonely piano music on the soundtrack. Lonely piano music has replaced smoking as a way for characters to appear aching and lost.

6. Art is what movie stars do on their days off, to upset their financial advisors.

7. Art gives college-educated people something to argue about in restaurants afterwards, the way they imagine that French people do.

8. Art is like kale, solar power and and fracking, because you know that it’s important, but you don’t really have to worry about it.

I’ve been thinking about art because I just saw The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, a moody examination of adult loss, which means that there won’t be any wisecracking robots. It stars the gorgeous Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy as a couple whose marriage has been tested and possibly destroyed by tragedy, although luckily, they both have rich parents. Jessica’s character comes from Westport and her folks are a college professor and a concert violinist, played by Wiilliam Hurt and Isabelle Huppert. And while they’re both great actors, I began wondering what it would be like, if William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert were actually your parents – I assume that the government would intervene.

Early in the film, Jessica responds to clinical depression in the most constructive way possible, by getting a sensational new short haircut. This allows Jessica to express her wordless grief by tousling her bangs and experimenting with smokey eyeshadow for daytime. But be warned: after an especially traumatic fight with my husband Josh, over whether we could afford to upgrade our kitchen island, I once tried this coping technique, and I ended up looking like Donald Duck playing Sally Bowles in a community theater production of Cabaret. But despair looks great on Jessica, and she spends most of the movie portraying a fathomless heartache,  by wearing sheer blouses, hugging the supportive female characters, and curling up on daybeds amid many shawls and pillows.

James mourns the way a man does, by getting into frat-boy fistfights and trying to have a heartfelt conversation with his emotionally unavailable Dad. Jessica and James only get into trouble in the flashbacks, when they have to play wacky kids falling in love, and their antics include skipping out on a meal at a fancy restaurant, which made me feel sorry for the waiter they’d stiffed. The couple is also required to dance ecstatically in the headlight beams of a parked car, and ecstatic dancing is always hard to pull off. The movie never gives us the details of the couple’s loss, as if that would be vulgar, so it’s like watching an old-timey play where they’ve accidentally cut the star’s climactic, tormented monologue which explains everything.

Still, it’s always a treat to watch Jessica as she makes wry remarks which barely mask her agony, and gazes accusingly at other people, as if to say, “You will never know the jagged depths of my personal hell, but a nomination wouldn’t hurt.” As with all art films, I learned something from Eleanor Rigby (Jessica’s parents were big Beatles fans, which explains the title.) I learned that healing is a process, and that the best medicine demands contouring your cheekbones and finishing your dissertation in Paris, if you ask me.

September 11, 2014

Adventures in Modern Self-Loathing: A Field Guide




When someone says “In the near future, I hope that my being gay is as of little interest as someone’s being left-handed.”

Translation: “I am not only innately superior to all gay people on the planet, but to all left-handed people as well.”

When someone says, “Just because I’m a gay man, that doesn’t mean I automatically love divas, Broadway shows and drag queens.”

Translation: “Sometimes when I’m on the elliptical, I listen to Bono and I sob, out of respect and deep emotion. And that’s just from his CNN interviews.”

When a gay man says, “I would never see a play, movie or TV show, just because it has gay content.”

Translation: “Unless it featured Chris Evans, Nick Jonas or Tom Hiddleston in a towel.”

When someone says, “I have more straight friends than gay ones.”

Translation: “That way, I’m the thin one.”

When someone says, “I despise the use of outdated gay stereotypes in the media.”

Translation: “In all of those TV shows, plays and movies I claim not to be watching.”

When someone says, “Just because I’m brave enough to criticize certain aspects of the so-called gay sensibility, why does that make me self-loathing?”

Fine. Let’s just say pompous, humorless and self-adoring.

When someone says, “The more confident I became, the more many of my so-called ‘gay’ mannerisms began to disappear.”

Translation: “I could pass as straight if I wanted to. But why did you just roll your eyes and say, ‘Darling’?”

When someone says, “I have no problem with people who are flamboyant or campy. Live and let live. But that’s not who I am.”

Translation: “Thank God I’m normal.”