“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: November 2014

November 26, 2014

Big Boxes O’ Fun

In honor of Black Friday, here are my observations on the big box stores:


TARGET – Shockingly good. Extremely decent imitations of higher-end stuff, including lamps, furniture and containers, which can be used to hold smaller containers. The very young staff is helplessly helpful, and all of the recently hired guys have those scraggly, hopeful, almost-beards. The girls are of course, far better informed, but everyone is nice. The lighting and layout are welcoming, and the stores are spotless.


WALMART – Wondrous and sad. Harsh lighting and a floor plan which recalls a vast Soviet prison; Walmart is a retail gulag. The clothing is both neon-bright and grim; everything is stiff and flimsy enough to seem like paper doll clothes for plus-size adults. The staff is older, sometimes eccentric, and pretty great – Walmart hires retired and handicapped people as greeters, and they’re cheerful and distinctive. If you’ve ever visited the irresistibly terrifying website called People of Walmart, you’ll understand the overall vibe, which combines affordable stuff, lots of choices, and a Star Wars intergalactic hangout ambience. Diane Arbus would’ve lived at Walmart.


MARSHALL’S HOMEGOODS – Tchotchke paradise. There is absolutely nothing at Marshalls which anyone needs, and I wanted it all. Endless variations of things like holders for boxes of Kleenex, toothbrush caddies, and is-it-a-vase-or-is-it-a-wastepaper-baskets. Ground zero for seasonal decor: well before Thanksgiving, the place brimmed with both traditional angels and reindeer, and those strange, nonsectarian, modernist versions, for an Atheist Glitter feeling. Following an intervention, a shopaholic should be led through Marshalls and not allowed to touch or buy anything, even if their soul is crying out for that wicker napkin holder with the lucite handle.



PETSMART- This is why they hate us, and why they’re right. American pets have far more wardrobe options than the entire populations of most Third World countries. You can get hot pink princess leotards with tulle tutus and embroidered golden tiara emblems, for your cocker spaniel or salamander. My favorite item: the Thundershirt, which is designed to alleviate all of your dog’s anxiety issues, including, according to the packaging, thunder, social interactions, riding in cars and abandonment. This shirt is basically a puppy straitjacket, which can be tightened because, as the label explains, research has proven that animals respond well to compression, including “cattle when they’re being vaccinated” – no mention is made of cattle when they’re being slaughtered. The label even mentions autistic children – does Temple Grandin wear a Thundershirt? Because PetSmart allows owners to bring their animals, the place smells just the way you think it might smell.


COSTCO – The mothership. Everything is bigger at Costco: the savings, the Big Bucket of Brownie Bites, the pillow-sized sacks of potato chips, and the mammoth shopping carts, which I’ve seen holding up to four children. You need to establish boundaries at Costco – I will not allow myself anywhere near the canisters of cashews and chocolate-covered almonds, or the jumbo bags of Costco crack, which is trail mix. You’re rarely allowed to purchase a single item at Costco, where the jugs of detergent are only sold in pairs, yoked together. Last week, I saw huge cartons jammed with threateningly life-sized stuffed versions of Hello Kitty and Minnie Mouse, turned on their stomachs, with their polka dot skirts revealing their frilly white panties. Costco is America at its best: a great idea taken way too far.

November 26, 2014

An Addams Family Thanksgiving

Here’s one of my favorite things about this scene from Addams Family Values: no one has ever asked why the kids at a summer camp are performing a Thanksgiving Day pageant. I also love this scene because it includes so many of my very favorite actors, including Christine Baranski, Peter MacNicol, Christina Ricci, David Krumholtz, and, among the parents in the bleachers, Harriet Harris, Julie Halston and the movie’s director, Barry Sonnenfeld. I’m also proud that this movie somehow made the Addams family at least a little Jewish; when Joan Cusack’s black widow character marries Uncle Fester, Lurch can be heard playing a snippet of Sunrise, Sunset on the organ.

When the movie first opened, I was interviewed by a writer from the Jewish Daily Forward, who asked me if, in fact, I thought that the Addamses were Jewish, and I replied, “Do you want them to be?”

I also deeply enjoyed working with the brilliant Marc Shaiman on the song “Eat Me.” It was one thing to write the lyrics sitting in my apartment, but watching the song being performed by actual children remains both thrilling and unnerving.

November 25, 2014


ferguson-police-protests012-760x506The injustice in Ferguson, Missouri, where a jury has refused to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, seems unspeakable. Especially offensive is the attitude of both Wilson and Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis county prosecutor, who both come across as paranoid and self-pitying, as if they can’t understand why the world finds their conduct so reprehensible. Amid the outrage, the Brown family has remained impressively sane, issuing a statement saying that “We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequences of his actions. While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.” They call for a campaign requiring police officers nationwide to wear body cameras.

From what I’ve read, in cities where officers wear these cameras, incidents of police brutality drop remarkably; these cameras protect the officers as well, from false accusations. In response to tragedies like Ferguson, most of us throw up our hands, or discuss the legacy of ingrained racism. The Brown family has suggested a workable solution.

I’ve now watched the video footage of George Stephanopoulos interviewing Darren Wilson, after the verdict. I found it just about impossible to watch the interview objectively, because I kept looking for clues and missteps, as if I was a juror. I also thought the following:

Whatever anyone thinks of Darren Wilson and his actions, being interviewed on TV in the wake of such a hyper-publicized event is the most unnatural act imaginable. Wilson had clearly been coached, which is understandable. He stuck by his story without a second of doubt or, frighteningly, regret. When Stephanopolous asked him if, in retrospect, he would’ve done anything differently, he said no. He insisted that he’d simply been doing his job, according to his training.

Being a police officer is an impossibly difficult job, requiring enormous courage, and many officers are true heroes. But I’m not sure if being an effective officer means sacrificing your humanity; Wilson seemed determined to remain calm and straightforward, and to consider the death of another, unarmed human being, as just, in his own words, “something that happened.” Wilson doesn’t come across as a monster, but he does seem to have dangerously compartmentalized his actions, which of course, may be a necessary tactic when faced with extreme circumstances.

Watching Wilson, all I wanted to know was: is he lying? The answer, clearly, is that by this point, even Wilson probably doesn’t know. His memory of the events surrounding Michael Brown’s death is remarkably clear and concise, which seems unlikely, but again, he was adamant about not admitting to any confusion.

Wilson characterized Michael Brown as looking like a demon. Wilson and Brown are both 6’4″, but Wilson claimed that he felt like a 5-year-old being grabbed by Hulk Hogan. All of this may be not only racist, but it leads to the conclusion: why was this man allowed to become a police officer? Wilson also said that this was the first time, in the line of duty, when he’d ever fired his gun. When Stephanopoulos asked Wilson why he didn’t just remain in his police car, rather than pursuing Michael Brown, Wilson again claimed that he was doing his job. None of this timeline made much sense. Wilson’s account of his actions may in fact be true, but it also sounds like a very carefully rehearsed narrative.

Wilson has just gotten married, and says that he just wants “a normal life.” I couldn’t tell if he was in shock or denial or just being hopeful, but his goal, under the circumstances, came across as either crazy or callous. Millions of people consider Wilson to be a criminal and a murderer, and plenty of people regard him as a hero. From the interview, more of which will be broadcast tommorrow, it was hard to see Wilson as anything but a template, a willfully blank page, for all of our opinions.


November 24, 2014

A Delicate Stomach

600x257ADBDuring the day, this past Thursday, I began having stomach distress, possibly caused by something I’d eaten the night before, or rather, devoured. My stomach pains increased and then subsided, and I was eager to attend the opening night of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance on Broadway. So I go to the theater with my partner John, and the play is terrific, with a superb cast led by Glenn Close and John Lithgow, on an especially stunning, haute Connecticut set by Santo Loquasto, with gorgeous, witty costumes by the legendary Ann Roth.

Sometime during the third act, my stomach troubles returned and increased, probably exacerbated by sitting upright in a packed theater for an extended period. I know and love the play, so I begin calculating how much more time I have, before I can get home. During the curtain call, there’s a well-deserved standing ovation, but as I try to stand and join in, I can’t: I’m drenched in cold sweat, and I’m unable to move. The superb John Lithgow quiets the ecstatic crowd and delivers a moving tribute to Mike Nichols, whose death had been announced that day. Several of the cast members had worked with Nichols, and Glenn Close had won a Tony for his production of The Real Thing. Lithgow recalled how on any Nichols film, once an actor had shot his or her last scene, Nichols would have the cast and crew sing the Roy Rogers theme song, Happy Trails, as a warm goodbye. Lithgow then led the audience in singing Happy Trails, in honor of Nichols.

During this wonderfully appropriate singalong, I keeled over, and I hoped that people would assume that I was simply overcome by the play and the tribute. As the crowd left, I collapsed and vomited in the aisle. The ushers were concerned and attentive, and two ridiculously handsome young police officers arrived, and were incredibly helpful. Did I want an ambulance? As I tried to stand, I realized that an ambulance might be a good idea. John and the officers helped me out into the alley which leads to the stage door, where I managed to sit on a bench, and the combination of the cool evening air and having barfed began to revive me. The officers and I discussed their work, since they were assigned to the theater district, and they told me that Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman were delightful, to their mobs of fans and everyone else, and the officers also recalled the filming of the amazing movie Birdman on the next block. I began imagining a new series called Law&Order:Opening Night.

As I felt better, I was greeted by various friends leaving the backstage area, who were giddy and only a little confused by the fact that I was deathly pale, with a police escort. The ambulance arrived and much as I longed to be strapped to a gurney, for the sheer drama, I was feeling much better, so I sat up while the attentive and caring EMS workers took my blood pressure. John’s a doctor, which means he’s especially helpful in these situations, so he and the EMS folks traded possible causes for my illness. We got to the emergency room, which was shockingly quiet, and once more, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful. By this point I was feeling just fine, and the various tests revealed nothing wrong, and I was released, and wisely told to schedule a visit with my regular doctor.

So for both Edward Albee and myself, it was a highly dramatic evening. As I later told Scott Rudin, the play’s producer, he should feel free to use the blurb, “A Delicate Balance Made Me Sick and I Loved It!” The episode also confirmed something I’d already been sure of: if you have to get sick, do it in Manhattan and preferably on Broadway, because New Yorkers are the best.


November 19, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: Not An Imitation



When I first heard that there was a movie called The Imitation Game,  I assumed it would be a hard-hitting expose of those Connecticut outlet stores, which instead of providing genuine bargains on Ralph Lauren or Burberry, just sell less exciting goods manufactured directly for the outlets. And I also thought that Benedict Cumberbatch might be playing a Scotland Yard detective, working undercover as an innocent English tourist browsing for knockoff fragrances. But instead, The Imitation Game turned out to be a terrific, very entertaining, Hollywood-style biopic of Alan Turing, the British genius who pretty much invented the computer, shortened World War II by breaking the Nazis’ impenetrable network of codes, but who died tragically, after being relentlessly persecuted because he was gay.

The movie takes place at all of the English locales which Americans love best: a stately yet cruel boarding school, a manor house called Bletchley, and assorted jolly pubs. As Turing, Benedict is presented as a sort of Rainman figure, a savant who can solve impossible riddles but stammers and retreats when faced with any social situation. Benedict is heavenly, although I kept wondering if he might run into Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking, and they could discuss the nature of time and their mutual Oscar buzz. A batch of desperately adorable English actors turn up, including Charles Dance, Mark Strong and Matthew Goode, all of whom spend most of their screen time shaking their heads ruefully at Benedict’s eccentric behavior, as if they’re about to burst into “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Alan Turing.”  Keira Knightley arrives as a brilliant mathematician, and by now I bet that when Keira is playing any sort of sprightly Englishwoman in a period film, she can supply her own wardrobe of jaunty fedoras and trim belted coats.

Even when the movie sometimes gets clunky, by repeating catchphrases and dumbing things down, Turing’s story is so fascinating that I didn’t care, and by the time Alan and his associates cracked Hitler’s code, I was in tears. On a certain level, the movie is a little like watching a very special episode of The Big Bang Theory, with all the characters in tweed jackets and Fair Isle sweater vests, but I’m always a sucker for egghead triumph.

I asked my cousin Andrew what he thought of the film; Andrew has just begun marketing an app which will insert the steamy gay sex scenes from How To Get Away With Murder into any episode of Duck Dynasty. Andrew was already familiar with Turing’s life, and his status as a gay hero who named his computer Christopher, after an early boyfriend. Andrew loved the movie, but he told me, “I just have one problem, because while Alan Turing was amazing, he was also hounded by the British police, until he committed suicide. So while I was watching the movie, I kept thinking about homophobes like Michele Bachmann and those Focus on the Family idiots and all of those nasty Cardinals and Ayatollahs. And while I know that progress takes time, and that I should be working to change these peoples’ hearts and minds, I don’t want to. I want to kill them.” Andrew makes an excellent point, which is why The Imitation Game is the real thing, if you ask me.


November 17, 2014


172824-chocolate-heart-of-chocolateI have just read some terrible and shocking news: the worldwide demand for chocolate has begun to outstrip the cocoa crops, and a choco-famine may result! Fuck ebola, climate change and immigration reform, ALL INTERNATIONAL RESOURCES MUST BE FOCUSED ON INCREASING AND PROTECTING CHOCOLATE PRODUCTION!!!!!

Here are some things which YOU, as a concerned earthling, can do:

EAT MORE CHOCOLATE – this will let the cocoa plants know that you care. In fact, through crop-dusting and a scorched-earth campaign, we must destroy all vegetation which does not lead directly to the creation of Peanut M&M’s. LET THE COCOA FIELDS BREATHE.


REFUSE TO EAT ANYTHING WHICH ISN’T MADE OF CHOCOLATE. There can be exemptions for frosting, sprinkles and certain cookies, as long as all of these items come directly into contact with CHOCOLATE. If someone offers you, say, a sirloin steak or a crisp apple, hurl it to the ground and ask, “WHAT IS THIS SHIT? WHERE IS MY CHOCOLATE?”


Tweet the Pope to stop pushing compassion and inclusion, and insist that he lead the world in PRAYING FOR CHOCOLATE. TELL HIM TO TALK TO GOD ABOUT THIS WHOLE CHOCOLATE ISSUE, BECAUSE GOD WILL UNDERSTAND. BECAUSE GOD MADE CHOCOLATE.


Make a weekly spiritual pilgrimage, with your family,  to Hershey, Pennsylvania and genuflect before the machine which manufactures the Kisses, especially the ones wrapped in gold foil with an almond inside. Accept the Kisses as your personal savior.






November 16, 2014

Thank You For Being You

jewish-purimOne page of a recent New York Times contained three stories which warmed my tabloid heart:

1. Because I was raised to believe that there’s no such thing as a Jewish criminal, I relish any tale of Hasidic misbehavior. Irving Rubin, along with his wife Desiree, his sons Joel and Yehuda, and his brothers Abraham, Jacob and Samuel were all indicted for many forms of fraud, including claiming to be homeless in order to receive welfare benefits and millions of dollars in loans. Abraham had been previously indicted for trying to bribe a witness in the case against Nechemya Weberman, “an unlicensed therapist in Brooklyn’s Satmar hasidic community”, who was found guilty of sexually abusing his clients, including children. Oy. Maybe these sorts of Jews were put on earth to make wayward Catholic priests feel better.


2. Vincent Zanfardino, knowing he had epilepsy, told his doctors that he didn’t drive, and then proceeded to have a seizure behind the wheel.  He began going 93 piles per hour, and crashed into “Brynn Rohlf, who was driving a black Acura with her fiancee, Dylan Gardineer in the back seat. They were returning from a trip to buy heroin.” Mr. Zanfardino’s lawyer told the court, “It’s not Mr. Zanfardino’s fault he has epilepsy, and it’s not his fault the state of New York allows people with epilepsy to drive.” As my mother might say, but at least none these people were Jewish. And as I might say, does Costco now sell heroin?


3. In an article on parents who accidentally leave their unattended infants to suffocate in cars, one such caring Mom said, “If you can forget your cellphone, you can absolutely forget your child.” I’m assuming this woman then demanded that Samsung replace her baby.

November 14, 2014

What Should Happen To People Who Don’t Vote

people-voting2The voter turnout for last week’s elections was at an all-time low; in some states, less than 20% of the eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot. This is reprehensible, and here are some suggestions:

Anyone who says things like “All politicians are the same” or “Nothing ever changes”, as a justification for not voting should be forced to pay an additional tax and double their jury duty. If they whine about this, just remind them, “Oh, but it was on the ballot.”

If someone who didn’t vote attempts to participate in a political discussion at a cocktail party or in a dorm room, everyone should pretend not to see or hear them. The more juvenile this situation becomes, the better.

When you discover that someone, for no good reason, didn’t vote, you’re allowed to ask, very loudly, in an extremely public place, “Was it because you’re a registered sex offender?”

If a young person didn’t vote, you’re legally allowed to grab their phone and hurl it into the river. Then you’re permitted to taunt that person as “a big smelly crybaby who didn’t vote, and now they can’t text. WAAAH!!!!”

If you didn’t vote, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum should show up at your house for Thanksgiving, and share their vision for America with you, while you’re trying to set the table.

If you discover that you’re dating, or married to, a person who didn’t vote, while they’re asleep you should use an indelible laundry marker to write “I DIDN’T VOTE” on their forehead. And you can also scrawl “THIS ASSHOLE DIDN’T VOTE” on their back, with an arrow pointing to their butt (this will be effective at the gym.)

November 13, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: Foxy Lady

Foxcatcher-2014-MovieIn screwball comedies, rich people sip champagne, banter and fall in love, but in more serious movies, like Reversal of Fortune, The Great Gatsby or the acclaimed new indie Foxcatcher, the rich folks are inbred, evil and perverse, which is something to think about, when you’re hoping that your child marries a Vanderbilt or a Rockefeller. Maybe the best idea is to avoid rich people who keep handguns and private tanks on their estates.

Foxcatcher is based on a true story, and Steve Carell, wearing a beaky prosthetic nose, plays John DuPont, the heir to a huge fortune, who decides to sponsor Channing Tatum as an Olympic wrestler, along with the rest of Channing’s team. There’s plenty of homoerotic subtext, so sometimes it’s like watching Behind the Candelabra, if it had been set on a few thousand acres of isolated Pennsylvania farmland during an especially bleak January, with everyone wearing warmup suits. Mark Ruffalo plays Channing’s warmhearted, well-adjusted brother, while Vanessa Redgrave is Steve’s icy patrician Mom, who’s way more attached to her thoroughbred horses than to her only son. Steve works out all of his psychological trauma through his obsession with Channing and athletics. I asked my husband Josh why so many guys are addicted to watching other guys pummel each other, and he thought about it and said, “The spirit of team play and sportsmanlike competition are critical to the integrated development of masculine identity. Because wrestling is something we can watch on ESPN while we’re eating.”

Then Josh showed me his framed poster of NFL quarterback Tom Brady, where the glass seemed to be smudged with lip-prints, right around Tom’s handsome face. “When I watch football,” Josh said, “I can picture myself running naked during the very first Olympic games, and enjoying a deep comradeship with my fellow athletes. Afterwards we might shower together and  open a keg at the Parthenon.”

Foxcatcher is beautifully made, and deeply tragic. A lot of the scenes are just two people staring silently at each other, with either no music or a few lonely piano chords, which is a very high-toned soundtrack for a story about burly dudes tossing each other around. The actors are all terrific, and no one does innocent-jock suffering like Tatum. There aren’t many light moments, because everyone onscreen is pretty much doomed, but I kept hoping that  Will Ferrell would skate by in powder blue spandex and toss his hair. Foxcatcher is a very classy movie about a tabloid crime; as Josh remarked, “It’s tasteful and austere, but you still get to admire Channing’s butt in his singlet.” Which is all the cinematic artistry anyone really needs, if you ask me.

November 12, 2014

Things That Happen When You’re Distracted

absent-mindedBy which I mean, what happens when you’re performing some simple yet essential task, while thinking about something else entirely.

1. You can start to apply toothpaste as if it was deoderant.

2. You can stop in the middle of the sidewalk and try to remember not just where you’re going, but what’s the name of the actress who plays what’s-her-name’s younger sister on what’s-that-show?

3. You can drink something which you didn’t order and which you hate.

4. You can be looking right into someone’s eyes and call them Joyce, when of course their name is Ben, and they’re not transgendered in any direction.

5. Instead of saying “I love you”, you can hold up a photo on your phone and ask, “Do you like this end table?”

6. You can start cursing at inanimate objects because you can’t find the pair of scissors you’re holding.

7. You can walk all the way to the gym and then remember that you’ve forgotten to bring your gym bag.

When any of these things happen, it is perfectly acceptable to blame global warming, secret government experiments conducted on you when you were a child, or French anti-semites.

November 10, 2014


gopro_fetch_dog_harness_for_your_dogs_2If your average writer wore one of those little  GoPro cameras on his or her forehead, here’s what would be recorded:

– Unwavering, extended shots of the ceiling, as the writer stares at it, hoping for either inspiration or a very special Snickers bar which would be able to take off its own wrapper, climb up onto the writer’s face, and jump into the writer’s mouth.

– A dramatic swoop, away from the ceiling and onto the wall, as the writer dozes off.

– An extended look out the writer’s window, as he or she contemplates the street outside and wonders exactly what, say, Dave Eggers or Zadie Smith is doing right now, most likely accepting an award.

– A cunning, suspenseful search through the shelves of the writer’s refrigerator, as he or she tries to locate something tasty which they know very well was devoured an hour ago.

– A close-up of the new Taylor Swift video, viewed on the writer’s iPad.

– A brief glimpse of a yellow legal pad, as the writer scribbles a few words, crosses them out, and then doodles flowers with faces and fangs dripping blood.

– A leisurely glance at several pages of any magazine in which Khloe Kardashian either defends her sister Kim’s inability to lose the baby weight or attacks Kim for stealing her man.

– A prolonged, evocative study of the writer’s iPhone, and its few, sad, texts, tweets and emails.

– A meta-moment, as the writer studies his or her reflection in the mirror, looking profoundly silly wearing a GoPro, and then the writer realizes: maybe my next book, play, poem, indie film, web series or blog post can revolve around the wacky antics of a character wearing a GoPro!



November 8, 2014

Dr. Leonard’s

Today I was reading about how compression socks, which are among the world’s least attractive garments, have become fashionable. This is in keeping with normcore, the trend where models have been snapped wearing Mom jeans and polartec hoodies from Sears. All of this put me in mind of the Dr. Leonard’s catalogue. As my Mother got older, she was both fascinated and horrified by this catalogue, which features all sorts of genuinely helpful products involving incontinence, limited mobility and hearing loss. Dr. Leonard’s also includes loungewear and some serious sandals. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find, including, in the final image, something called Dr. Laura Berman’s Charlotte Massager. Which has made me wonder: who, or what, is Charlotte?

51061_xl Cozy Fleece Robe | DrLeonards.com