“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 10, 2014

Are You Too Sensitive? Part Two



When you vote, do you worry about hurting the other candidate’s feelings? Do you ever write the losing candidate a note afterwards?

While you’re misting your plants, do you ever fret that you’re not just drowning them, but waterboarding them?

Do you worry about the statues in Central Park getting cold?

Once autumn arrives, do you ever think to yourself, “But why do the leaves have to change? There was nothing wrong with them!”

When you watch documentary scenes of warfare or domestic abuse, is your first response, “That was so terrible! Now I’m going to keep thinking about it all morning!”

Have you ever hugged a book? Or kissed one? And then worried that your actions weren’t consensual?

Do you celebrate the birthday of your favorite poncho? With gifts?

September 8, 2014

Losing The Plot



Avant-garde and absurdist giants, from Lewis Carroll to Kafka to David Foster Wallace, have been acclaimed for manipulating reality and creating masterpieces of fractured storytelling. All of these guys are total amateurs, compared to the people behind Mistresses, the ABC series which revolves around a devoted group of female friends in Los Angeles. I need to take a moment, to simply share what has befallen these valiant ladies during the show’s first two seasons.

1. Dr. Karen Kim – Dr. Kim, a therapist given to tight sheaths and swoopy bangs, started the series as the mistress of one of her married patients. Because this fellow had a fatal illness, she secretly and illegally helped him commit assisted suicide. Almost immediately following her paramour’s death, Dr. Kim began a torrid affair with his young son. The son was eventually shot to death by his own mother, who was understandably aiming at Dr. Kim. After being briefly suspended, Dr. Kim returned to her practice by treating a young woman with whom Dr. Kim was soon sharing a boyfriend. Dr. Kim then had her patient move into her home, because the patient was living in a shabby apartment. Dr. Kim finally and completely solved her patient’s extreme anxiety and self-esteem issues by counseling her to move back to Korea, which she did. Dr. Kim, flushed with success, has just decided to stop being a therapist in order to “find out who I really am.”  Oh, and I left out the part where Dr. Kim began going to hotel bars, while wearing miniskirts and various wigs, and became a quasi-hooker using many assumed names.

2. April owns a homewares boutique. Her first husband faked his own death, but then  reappears, with an additional wife and child. April is miffed, but still attracted, until she finally sends the guy packing. Then April falls for a handsome artist, but she discovers that whenever he claims to be “visiting his family’s home in Vermont”, he’s actually staying in LA and cheating on her. April dumps him, but she’s just discovered that he’s secretly an FBI agent, who’s been tracking her in order to capture her first husband, who’s now working for a drug kingpin. The FBI blackmails April into helping them. April should never, ever date.

3. Savi (short for Savannah) is a lawyer, who cheats on her handsome Australian chef husband once, and becomes pregnant by an equally handsome partner at her firm. Just as she’s about to choose between these two hunks, she gets hit by a car, loses the baby, and stays in a coma for quite a while. After regaining consciousness, she begins a relationship with the guy whose truck hit her. None of this matters, because here’s Savi’s true dilemma: Savi is being played by the appealing Alyssa Milano, who was pregnant in real life over the course of the entire second season. Alyssa’s pregnancy was never written into the script, so as she grew larger and larger, steps were taken to disguise her condition. At first she wore multiple layers of coats and cardigans, even indoors, like a refugee. Then she began holding enormous designer handbags over her midsection, until the handbags became the size of steamer trunks. Then she began to huddle beneath nubby throws and cover her stomach with gargantuan accent pillows. Finally, she was so sizeable that she could only be shot in a tight close-up, or crouching behind tabletops and the backs of armchairs. She’d scuttle out of rooms, like a hunchbacked hobbit.

We won’t even begin to discuss Joss, the bisexual real estate broker turned event planner, and her upcoming wedding to a shoe fetishist. The lesson, to writers everywhere, is this: ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME, IF YOU WANT IT TO.

September 7, 2014

More Joan

I’ve been reading about Joan Rivers’ memorial service, which sounds perfect. The entertainment featured Audra McDonald, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and Hugh Jackman, and the speakers included Melissa Rivers, Cindy Adams and Howard Stern. This mix seems just right, since it embodies talent, irreverence and show biz, all at their finest. After Robin Williams died, the world grieved for both a life cut short and a human being in such terrible despair. Because Joan was 81, and because she’d lived a rough, boisterous and ultimately triumphant life, the mood has been more celebratory. Joan Rivers was the antidote to every mealy-mouthed self-help book ever written, because she tended to blast through each defeat, in a blaze of diamonds, cosmetic surgery and wisecracks. She didn’t hide her heartache; she transformed it.

It’s also been especially fun to watch all the clips of Joan at work, as she crafted her onstage persona. When you read some of Joan’s material, it can seem daunting, but the minute you hear the same joke being brayed in Joan’s inimitable New York honk, everything’s funny – even when she said, “If I found Yoko Ono in my pool, I’d punish my dog.”

Here’s Joan’s glorious return to the Tonight Show earlier this year. You can feel the audience’s delighted eagerness, and since Joan’s first jokes involve Nazis and vagina rings, she doesn’t disappoint.

I’ve just realized something: Joan Rivers is the first celebrity I can picture in heaven, reading the comments on her own funeral, and judging what everyone was wearing. Watch out.


September 6, 2014

The Semiotics of Leopardskin

02-09-2014_-nhch_strablerjacket_brownleop_1_002This is a jacket which deserves a doctoral thesis. It’s made by Carhartt, a company known for manufacturing hardcore work clothes. Carhartt pants and jackets are most often stiff, boxy and durable; construction workers and farmers traditionally wear Carhartt. But now, in collaboration with Neighborhood, a Japanese company, Carhartt has produced a leopardskin-patterned mototorcycle jacket, with all sorts of inexplicable zippers and a nice, big, centrally located logo. This jacket is something Cher might toss on, if she was performing on an oil rig, or inside a cement mixer. If a welder was wearing this jacket, he’d also need capri pants. Here are some other thoughts on this enduring design motif:

Leopardskin even looks garish and sexy on leopards.

If you’re going to wear a sheer blouse, or white pants, you need leopardskin underwear, in order to tell people, “Yes, I know that you can see my underwear. That’s the idea.”

An actual leopardskin coat would seem both gorgeous and truly evil. Satan wears real leopardskin.

Leopardskin goes with the following: black, hot pink and zebra, and if you’re brave, all three. And if you’re extra brave, factor in some camoflauge print in an unlikely neon color.

Nobody ever accidentally wears, or even tries on, leopardskin. By wearing leopardskin you’re announcing, “Yes, you can call me Dagmar or Yolanda or Aunt Yetta. Especially if my shoes, leggings and eyeglass frames are also leopardskin.”

A faux leopardskin throw or faux leopardskin wall-to-wall carpeting are handy ways of informing visitors, “Of course I wish I lived in a nail salon. Don’t you?”

In the jungle, when a leopard slinks by, a lioness will always tell her lion, “Stop staring!”



September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers



Like everybody else, I was hopelessly in love with Joan Rivers. I remember watching her on the Tonight Show, and on Letterman and everywhere else: she was always electric and savagely hilarious, and she’d always go just that much further than anyone expected. Her connection to an audience was instant and overwhelming; “Can we talk?” was her mating cry. Because she was so eager and so unpretentious, and because she was a female stand-up, she was often underrated; she could scare heterosexual male comics, and she confused the politically correct. And she managed the impossible: she stayed funny, forever.

I’m not sure when I first met Joan, but it might have been when she came backstage at Jeffrey, and happily posed for photos, while seated on the play’s enormous bed, with the cast. She was always  kind and generous, to me and everyone else. While she travelled with friends, there was never any sense of a snooty entourage: Joan loved talking to everyone. She also loved New York and the theater; she was the ultimate mensch. She was also the only person I ever heard use the word “Jew” while selling her collections of jewelry and clothing on QVC, and she clearly loved shocking her peppy, vanilla co-hosts.

For a woman who loved talking about how much plastic surgery she’d had, Joan was helplessly authentic. She’d talk, and joke,  about everything, including her husband’s suicide. She was ravenous for fresh material, and my partner John and I would go see her trying out new routines at Fez, the basement lounge at the Time Cafe, which used to be on Lafayette Street. She’d be filthy and wild, and she could get away with anything; she was Joan Rivers. When her dog pooped on the floor at a supermarket, Joan would insist to the manager, “I did it!”

Like so many great, brash female comics, in her private life Joan was incredibly cultured; she was extremely well-read, and her homes were always elegant. But Joan never denied anything about herself, which made her irresistible. And while other comics were heralded for being cutting edge or outspoken, Joan was truly subversive. She was a heroine to women and Jews and gay men,which wasn’t always a formula for the more sedate, mainstream forms of recognition.

And while it’s terribly sad that Joan Rivers has died, it’s even sadder that she’s stopped talking.


September 4, 2014

Celebrity Nude Pix – Please Don’t Read This



Some folks have responded to the recent, scandalous availability of private, naked pictures of celebrities by asking, why did these stars have nude photos stored on the Cloud in the first place? Others have declared the entire situation to be a shocking invasion of the celebrities’ privacy, and a form of nude star-shaming. While both of these responses are understandable, here are some proactive solutions:

– In order for a regular person to download a nude photo of a celebrity, the regular person must attach a nude photo of themselves, under fluorescent lighting, right after they’ve removed a piece of clothing with a tight elastic waistband. The nude photos of regular people will also be automatically forwarded to that person’s mother, their coworkers, and a website called “Cellulite – It Doesn’t Just Happen To Women.”

– Whenever a star has private, nude photos taken, they should be careful to place logos for Unicef, the Red Cross and Amnesty International over their genitalia, along with instructions for making donations.

– If a regular person is caught posting unpleasant comments regarding the breakup of Mariah Carey’s marriage, they should be required to email Mariah a 200-word essay on the topic “Why Someday, Mariah Will Love Again.”

– When anyone resists downloading nude photos of a celebrity, as a form of congratulations and positive reinforcement, their name should be embroidered on the back of Angelina Jolie’s wedding dress, beside  her childrens’ artwork.

– Anyone who downloads salacious material regarding any portion of Kim Kardashian’s body should receive a handwritten thank-you note from Kim, along with a coupon good for a 10% discount on her latest fragrance.

– If you have the urge to download a forbidden photo, get drunk, quit your job and obsessively visit hardcore porn sites instead. That way, you’ll feel better about yourself, as a person.



September 3, 2014





I’ve just read an article regarding what top tennis players say to each other, when they’re paired in doubles matches. It seems that these conversations, which are conducted in whispers and cannot be overheard, can go on for quite some time, and can delay the match. Since I know less than nothing about tennis, here’s what I feel is said, between, say, the legendary Venus and Serena Williams:

Venus: Even on our worst day, we are so much better than everyone else.

Serena: I know. Sometimes I get bored, so while I’m playing, I mentally sketch new tennis outfits.

Venus: Me too! I wish they would let us wear capes.

Serena: Okay, during the next volley, let’s pick someone in the stands who’s talking on their cell, and see if we can hit the phone out of their hand.

Venus: Or I can hide the ball under my skirt, and we can both look around, like “Where’d it go?”

Serena: You know what’s really silly? Golf.

Venus: Oh please!

Serena: I wish we had little carts to ride around in. Every time I see someone playing golf, I want to ask, “And the point is?”

Venus: Oh, I know – for the next volley, what if I serve a golf ball?

Serena: Or a meatball?

Venus: Or a Hostess Snowball?

Serena: Or what if, the next time the ball comes over the net, we both scream, drop our racquets and run away?


September 2, 2014

Bang Bang

There are certain songs called earworms, because they remain inside your brain, whether you like it or not. I actually like Bang Bang, and it’s fun to watch the video, because you can sense the amount of negotiations involved, to enlist and please the three stars – each lady clearly has her own turf, in everything from choreography to camera angles to wardrobe.

September 1, 2014

In Praise of the Tchotchke




I was raised in a home filled with wonderful items which sat on coffee tables and bookshelves, and required only appreciation and dusting. This was my introduction to tchtochkes. The word “tchotchke” derives from a Slavic term for “trinket.” Many gay Jewish men have named their dogs Tchotchke, and Tchotchke would also be the perfect name for a great Russian actress or ballerina from the 1930s, as in The Divine Tchotchke.

A tchotchke is something which you don’t need, and which has no function, but which you can’t live without

Classic tchotchkes include the following:

decorative wooden nutcrackers

carved teak salad tongs which are meant to be used as a wall ornament

any wooden or wire bowl which has so many open spaces that it can’t possibly hold anything

marble eggs and spheres; 12″ high marble obelisks; spheres woven from bark or reeds


any religious item, divorced from suffering: a Wedgewood crucifix, or a porcelain Orthodox Rabbi

paperweights given as gifts in a paperless era

faux tortoiseshell anything


Murano glass, especially the swirling clown figurines

Non-working Sixties table lighters

Anything purchased at a street fair or open-air market in another country

fancy tchotchkes: fragments of ancient statuary (especially hands, feet or noses), Venetian papier-mache masks, anything displayed on a lucite cube or a tiny metal stand

Collections of anything: salt-and-pepper shakers, shot glasses, cocktail shakers, swizzle sticks, Russian nesting dolls, commemorative thimbles, etc.


All awards, once the winner takes them home, become tchotchkes, especially Daytime Emmys

A tchotchke is often something which is designed to look like something else, for example, a ceramic pitcher shaped like a cabbage, or a coaster shaped like a tiny sled

The Kardashians are human tchotchkes, as are all celebrity babies

Switzerland Exhibition

Artist Jeff Koons is the grand tchotchkemeister of our time, reaping millions from his outsize balloon animals and Michael Jackson figurines. The only way that Koons’ work could be an even greater celebration of rampant tchotchke-ism, would be if each piece included the shreds of a gooey pricetag which someone had tried to scrape off with their fingernail.