“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 7, 2014

Infantile Ways For Hard-Core Liberal Democrats To Feel Better About The Elections

politics– We can remind ourselves that all of those midwestern Republicans still have big doughy heads with beady little eyes, so they look like waterlogged scones.

– We can tell ourselves that Chris Christie is still a nasty, bigoted bully and everyone knows it, and that Hillary is an angel whom America is going to love.

– We can picture the sadness of Republican victory parties, as all of the participants get drunk on budget Scotch and listen to patriotic country-western songs and then look on Craig’s List for underage prostitutes.

– We can think about the masochism which is required for a woman to vote Republican, and consider setting up shelters where these women can find understanding  and a way of relaxing their tight little smiles.

– We can reach out to the sad, hopeful children of Republican congresspeople, and tweet compassionate messages like, “Your Dad isn’t your fault” and “We know that the navy blazer and the cheap rep tie weren’t your idea.”

– We can imagine that even amid triumph, all of the Republican victors will still keep having those recurrent nightmares, where faceless immigrants and gay people move in next door and try to hug everyone.

– We can relish that moment when, once they’ve repealed Obamacare, all of the Republicans suddenly realize that their insurance plans no longer cover gout.

November 5, 2014

Libby Gelman-Waxner: Interwhat?

Film-Interstellar-09425After seeing the wonderfully silly sci-fi blockbuster Interstellar, I have decided not to go into space for the following reasons:

1. Space travel is like riding the subway for 300 years and getting off in Greenland.

2. How many times can you look out the window and say, “Earth looks so small”?

3. Your average space station is basically a dorm room at a really nerdy college, so imagine the smell.

Still, I enjoyed Interstellar, because it’s like a science fair project by the third-brightest kid in the 11th grade: it’s very earnest about the future of humanity, and it dares to inspire the following questions:

1. What would happen if we shot Matthew McConaughey through a wormhole in the time/space continuum? Would he remain tan? Would he still seem like an affable stoner trying to solve Rubik’s Cube?

2. Who maintains Anne Hathaway’s early-Liza bangs while she’s travelling to Saturn? Does the onboard robot have a styling function? Anne is totally adorable as a spunky scientist, but do we ever really believe that a movie star has a doctorate?

3. Is Anne deliberately dressed as Taylor Swift in the Shake It Off video, in a black top and black leggings? Doesn’t this outfit demand a beret? Even in zero gravity?

4. Is it an essential law of quantum physics that minority actors get eliminated first?

5. When Jessica Chastain stands at a blackboard scribbling an endless scientific formula, just like Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, did she want to add, “And have a great spring break everyone, and come back ready to learn!”?

6. Did director Christopher Nolan feel that only recent Oscar winners could save the human race? On the set, did Matthew and Anne refuse to eat lunch with Jessica, because she’s only been a nominee?

Sci-fi movies most often come in two categories: with aliens and without. The non-alien movies are usually inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, and ask important questions about time travel and faith, while the with-alien movies, which are inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek, require Tom Cruise to ingeniously defeat something much taller than he is, aside from the female lead. Interstellar is one of the more serious movies which still feature spacecrafts with tons of blinking lights and digital readouts, all of which are clearly powered by two D batteries. Interstellar follows a batch of intrepid space travellers, as they seek a new planet which can sustain life, and I kept waiting for Anne to say, “Let’s find a really fun planet, with outlet stores! Does Jupiter have a  hipster-y downtown, with lots of funky shops and cafes?”

Because space travel takes such a long time, every sci-fi movie includes a set of sleeping pods, which always look like tanning beds, or that hyperbaric chamber which Michael Jackson used for naps. The astronauts in Interstellar are first zippered into large plastic bags and then lowered into water, as if they were DelMonte products being shipped across country. After many years of intergalactic slumber, they wake up looking exactly the same, and when the crew finds additional pods on another planet, I was sure they’d defrost them and Susan Lucci or Jaclyn Smith would pop up.

Interstellar 2014 Movie Captures00034

Because Christopher Nolan is a masterful director, Interstellar looks amazing, but I started to hope that maybe Jabba the Hutt or Leonard Nimoy might drop by. Because, while I know that searching for real estate in other solar systems is a life-or-death matter, I wish that Interstellar had taken an HGTV Househunters approach, where the earthlings could’ve been shown three possible new planets, and then picked one, even if it needed a new kitchen and an updated powder room. I wanted Matthew and Anne to decide, “Pluto is really us” and have a housewarming, if you ask me.

November 4, 2014

Mary Rodgers Guettel

tn-500_bwwmaryrodgerswm1176207.jpg.pagespeed.ce.riJkbviHmYYesterday at Town Hall, there was a memorial for the wonderful Mary Rodgers Guettel, the composer, author, and philanthropist. Stephen Sondheim played a new melody in Mary’s honor, and Hal Prince spoke movingly of their decades-long friendship. Andre Bishop told a hilarious and revealing story about how he’d once worked with Mary on a troubled out-of-town production. His tale involved the replacement of practically all the key figures on the show, suffocating summer heat, and the presence of a German documentary film crew, but through it all, Mary had remained disciplined and inspiring. Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett appeared together, and there was a black-and-white video clip of Carol’s career-making performance as the raucous Princess Winnifred in Mary’s hit Broadway musical Once Upon A Mattress. Carol also recalled how, in order to get the show a Broadway theater, the cast, in full costume, had picketed their own producers.

Mary’s son Alec introduced a highlight of the occasion, explaining that what we were about to see illustrated the exact opposite of his mother’s parenting style: it was a TV commercial from either the 60’s or the early 70’s. in which a smiling, twinkling Mary served her wholesome family a trayful of desserts topped with Cool Whip. Mary was an elegant, wry, take-no-prisoners sort of person, so watching her emerge from a kitchen in hostess-y splendor was an unnerving treat. There were many other photos and film clips of Mary, documenting the emergence of her chic, fine-boned, confident personal style. Once Mary had established her sleek and witty persona, she never seemed to age, and she and her beloved husband, Hank Guettel, were the Nick and Nora Charles of Central Park West.

Another of Mary’s children, the superb composer Adam Guettel, assembled a chorus of major Broadway talent to sing Something Known, a gorgeous number from Mary’s musical version of the Carson McCullers novel, The Member of the Wedding.The memorial’s printed program included a trove of remembrances, and a flip book of Mary laughing what was referred to as her trademark, beguiling and dirty cackle. Mary was much beloved, as Broadway royalty, and as a woman who encouraged countless young artists.



November 3, 2014

Strange But True

rodin_philosopher-384x480No matter what your personal feelings or academic credentials might be, all discussions of religious belief come down to the same foolish thought: I know something you don’t know.

All discussions of the upcoming elections arrive at the same foolish conclusion: my polls are more accurate than yours.

All critical discussions of any artwork end with the same, usually unspoken, and foolish declaration: if you don’t agree with me, you’re stupid.

All discussions of the salient characteristics of any generation will result in the following, foolish snort: all generations except for mine are dangerously spoiled, ignorant, entitled and lazy.

All discussions of any scientific basis for the beginnings of the universe end with the same plea: if I agree with you, will you please stop trying to make me understand your theory?

All discussions of proper child-rearing should end with the following, astute decree: any child’s personality and intelligence have been determined about three seconds after they’re born, so if you’re a parent, stop worrying about it. But you should still teach that child to stop shrieking in public places.

All discussions of who’s to blame for making that last wrong turn on the Jersey turnpike will end in either homicide or divorce. Both will be equally satisfying.


November 2, 2014

Sunday Thoughts

heath_ledger_joker_makeup01On Halloween, I kept seeing people whose costumes consisted of everyday clothing drenched in blood. Then I saw a man on crutches with his leg in a massive cast, and I assumed this was his costume. It wasn’t. Then I saw a guy wearing surgical scrubs, so I assumed he was working at a nearby hospital. Until I noticed that, walking beside him, was another guy wearing a nurse’s uniform, with his face painted like Heath Ledger as The Joker. From now on, whenever I see someone in terrible physical distress, I’m just going to give them candy and hope that covers it.

There’s another Paul Rudnick, who is some sort of brilliant scientist, and light years smarter than me. But I did see one of his recent tweets, which included what was most likely an abbreviation: “Anal Chem.” Anal Chem also sounds like the name of a hapless character in Middle European folklore. “There goes poor, hopeless Anal Chem, leaving our little shtetl with has hat on backwards, as usual.”

The Home Shopping channels have been selling Christmas items for months, by instilling viewer paranoia: “Sure, it’s only July, but my sister already has all of her Christmas gifts wrapped and waiting in her bedroom closet.” Today two female hosts were promoting a set of illuminated letters, a foot high, which spelled out such thoughts as LOVE, HOPE and KIND. One of the co-hosts  thoughtfully suggested that the letters could also be used to spell CAVE and POOL. Or, come to think of it, EVIL or POKE.