“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: June 2015

June 29, 2015

A Fabulous New York Police Officer

This has gone viral, for good reason: after so much controversy, here’s a wonderful cop dancing with a marcher at the Gay Pride parade. The parade ends right near my apartment, so my block was partially barricaded, but the police couldn’t have been more helpful. For some reason, my block always attracts plenty of lesbian drama. This year I saw one woman sitting on the curb, while another woman begged her, “Olive, at least stand up! At least walk to the corner, so I can use my phone!” I have no idea if Olive was impaired in some way, or just exhausted. Another extremely tall, sturdy lesbian was haranguing a tiny, young lesbian, by shouting at her, “You bitch! You wanted to stab me IN MY FACE! IN MY FACE!” I have no idea if the taller lesbian was speaking literally, but the younger lesbian was unperturbed, and their friends were enjoying the exchange.
The Pride parade is always remarkably well behaved, and the police seem to have a great time.

June 28, 2015

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


I’ve always loved this quote, even if I question its logic: sometimes other people have guns, chains and laws which can make even the strongest among us feel like nothing.

But Eleanor was definitely onto something. Following the wonderful Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality, this has been a time of great and justified celebration. But I hope that gay lives, and gay history, never become a matter of before and after. Because even before this past Friday, there have always been committed gay relationships, epic gay romances, and gay couples who considered themselves married. Gay people have known many, often unspeakable obstacles, but plenty of gay people, throughout history, have made lives of enormous happiness. This is true of most embattled minorities, who often create their own cultures, their own music, their own languages and their own senses of humor, much of which the rest of the world eventually covets and annexes.

I grew up well before gay lives were as openly acknowledged as they are today, and I always loved being gay. I never considered being gay a mistake or a burden or a terrible secret – it struck me as only a source of joy. I was lucky, in that I was never mistreated or rejected by my family, but I know many people who went through hell, and still ended up as the most delightful adults. Here’s a common mistake, and not just for gay people: while equality is essential, never confuse it with being liked. If you yearn only to be accepted and embraced, in any sphere, you’re in for trouble, and I think that’s what Eleanor was talking about: never depend on the opinions of others, for your own self-worth.

Marriage equality is fantastic, and it’s been hard-earned. But gay people have always fallen in love – from what I’ve heard, even Eleanor, with her dear friend Lorena Hickok.


June 25, 2015

Highly Recommended

9.212418Last night John and I saw Bill Finn’s glorious A New Brain at Encores. We’d seen the show at its premiere in 1998 at Lincoln Center and loved it; this new version, directed by James Lapine, is superb. The show was inspired by events which actually befell Mr. Finn, when he underwent brain surgery. Somehow he’s turned this into a show that’s soaringly melodic, hilarious and deeply moving. A New Brain has a phenomenal cast, led by Jonathan Groff, Ana Gasteyer, Aaron Lazar and Dan Fogler. The show is so terrific that I hope it enjoys a life beyond this run of just a few days. I’ve also heard reports of an upcoming revival of Bill Finn’s masterpiece, Falsettos.

While we’re on the subject of wonderful things: you must read George Hodgman’s completely sensational Bettyville. It’s a memoir which covers George’s moving back to Missouri to care for his aging mother, and his years in Manhattan, but any plot summary can’t possibly do this book justice. It’s gorgeously and irresistibly well-written, and sinfully pleasurable.

June 22, 2015

Today’s Questions

questions_answers_5When politicians are backed into a corner, and finally take the tiniest steps towards holding a moral position they should’ve adopted years earlier, why do they expect to be applauded?

Are Republican presidential candidates secretly hoping that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of gay marriage, so they can attack the ruling without having to do anything about it?

At 7 AM this morning, I watched as a woman was led out of Starbucks towards either a waiting police car or a waiting ambulance. Had a crime occured, a seizure, a brawl, or a little bit of all three? As a New Yorker, should I have stuck around for more details?

Have scientists ever determined the exact second at which a child’s wailing turns from heartbreaking to annoying?

Isn’t the NRA basically a lobbying group for serial killers?

Isn’t air-conditioning a far more impressive achievment than either fire or the wheel?

June 17, 2015

More Moments of Gay Zen

rainbow_flag_smiley_gay_and_lesbian_pride_custom_sports_watch_new_f2d9d51bWhen I saw a listing for a cable show called Insane Coaster Wars, I turned it on, because I assumed it was a program about people who collect decorative or unusual coasters. It was about roller coasters, so I immediately stopped watching.

When I look at photos of Civil War soldiers, I try to decide which ones are cute.

When I sweep or rake, I picture myself as Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment of Fantasia, with his enchanted broom. Because I feel that manual labor requires a soundtrack.

When I order certain toppings for my Carvel ice cream cone, I think that asking for “colored sprinkles” sounds racist, and that asking for “rainbow sprinkles” sounds like a political statement.

Comparing different actresses who’ve played, or should play, Rose in Gypsy is the gay equivalent of fantasy football. Although now that I think about it, the words “fantasy football” sound incredibly gay. Fantasy Football sounds like a number that was cut from Grease II.

June 15, 2015


EavesdroppingSo I’m sitting on the train from Long Island and eavesdropping on the three women seated in front of me – I can’t see them but they’re very loud. One of them begins Googling definitions for the words narcissist, Machiavellian and sociopath, to see if any of these terms applies to her. She reads everything aloud: “Narcissists are people who only think about themselves and who obssess over what they look like and who think they’re like, the whole universe – yeah, that’s pretty much me…if you’re Machiavellian you study other people and you figure out how to manipulate them – nah, I don’t really do that…sociopaths don’t understand the difference between right and wrong, or they don’t care about it…I’m not like, a total sociopath, maybe a little…”

As the conversation continued, I learned that this woman had children, and had been warned to avoid travelling on a certain flight, because someone else’s ex-wife would be onboard.

When the train arrived at Penn Station, the woman stood up: she was an attractive, blowsy, middle-aged blonde, and her companions were an older woman and a girl who looked about 14.

June 11, 2015

Ah Do Declah!

lindsey-grahamWhen Republican Senator, and lifelong bachelor, Lindsey Graham announced that he was running for President, he said that his sister and some of his other female friends would stand by his side: “I’ll have a rotating First Lady.” I can’t tell you how happy this made me. I could hear the entire universe rolling its eyes and saying “Honey…” There’s nothing that isn’t classically closeted about Lindsey, from his hair to the way he spells his first name to the fact that whenever Jon Stewart imitates him, he uses a Scarlett O’Hara Southern drawl and mimes fanning himself.
Despite his hateful politics, there’s something endearing about Lindsey. He’s a combination of Corky St.Clair, Beverly Leslie from Will&Grace, and every creepy South Carolina choirmaster rolled into one.

June 9, 2015

A Simple Purchase

epsonHow to buy a new printer/scanner/fax/whatever those machines are called:

1. Wait until your ancient fax machine becomes hopelessly jammed and finally dies.
2. Wait another two months, imagining that if you keep turning the broken machine on and off, it will miraculously fix itself.
3. Think about buying a new machine.
4. Almost buy a new machine.
5. Finally clear an entire day to go to Staples and buy a new machine.
6. Arrive at Staples. Locate the wall of printer/scanner/copier/whatevers. There are so many different models to choose from. Too many.
7. Realize that you should have checked Consumer Reports before going to Staples. HAHAHAHA.
8. Eavesdrop on a salesperson while he explains the choices to another customer. Understand nothing.
9. After the other customer leaves, discuss the many choices with the salesperson. Use a focused facial expression. Remember those cartoons where a man is talking to a dog and all the dog hears is “Blah, blah, blah,Skippy…blah,blah, blah, Skippy…” You are Skippy.
10. Ask the salesperson which machine he would recommend. Wonder if he’s paid extra by the manufacturer for this recommendation. Decide you don’t care if he’s lying about everything because you can’t breathe.
11. Realize that because all of the machines are black or gray, you can’t say, “I like the red one.”
12. Decide that buttons are better than a touch screen. PROGRESS! YAY!
13. Decide that a smaller machine is better than the ones which the salesperson is recommending, which are the size of Toyotas.
14. Decide that you will never need to copy anything on both sides.
15. Decide that you will never print out full-color photos of anything, because you would have to figure out how.
16. Decide that you don’t need three different trays for three different kinds of paper. WHO NEEDS THREE DIFFERENT KINDS OF PAPER?
17. As your vision starts to blur, just before you fall to the floor, point to a machine pretty much at random and say, “THAT ONE!”
18. Refuse to get any of the many forms of warranties and repair plans and Staples Rewards Cards. Even the salesperson can’t muster up much enthusiasm.
19. Buy extra cartridges because you are a SAVVY CONSUMER. Wonder why the cartridges cost more than the machine. I DON’T CARE. I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE.
20. Watch as the salesperson winds heavy tape around the huge box many times to create a carrying handle.
21. Cripple at least three people with the box on your way out.
22. Get the box into a cab. Because cabs are a technology you understand.
23. As you leave the cab, all the carrying tape breaks so you have to drag the box to your building’s front door.
24. Realize that for some reason your little insta-open magentic fob isn’t working, so you have to drop the box and find the right key.
25. Drag the box down the hall, into the elevator, down your own hall and into your apartment.
26. Leave the box right inside the front door. Possibly forever.
27. Contemplate the idea of opening the box and installing the machine. ON WHAT PLANET? IN WHAT LIFETIME? USING WHOSE BRAIN?
28. Have a package of chocolate-frosted mini-doughnuts. Another technology you understand.
29. Continue ignoring the large ungainly box.
30. Feel good about yourself. You accomplished something. Glance at the words on the box. WHAT IS AN ETHERNET? WHY DOES IT SOUND LIKE A MEANS OF ASSISTED SUICIDE? OR THE VILLAIN IN THE NEXT AUSTIN POWERS MOVIE?
31. Go to sleep. Maybe by the morning your old machine will have miraculously fixed itself. Out of pity.

June 8, 2015

Tony Notes

tonys-2015-acceptance-speech-helen-mirren-billboard-650Last night I went to the Tonys at Radio City, as a guest of my friend William Ivey Long, who was a nominee for his glorious costumes for On The Twentieth Century; he’s also the Chairman of the American Theater Wing, where he’s been doing a great job. Here’s what I learned:

– If you want to get on camera, it’s a good idea to be seated behind Helen Mirren, because she won for Best Actress In A Play. That’s what happened to me, and I had two choices. I could constantly whisper gushing praise or disturbing warnings in her ear, like, “Judi Dench is outside and she’s got a gun.” Or I could just watch her, which I did, as she was gracious and charming to everyone.

I decided that maybe I was seated behind Dame Helen because we had similar haircuts.

– What you don’t see on TV: the cameramen dressed in black, with Steadicams balanced on their shoulders, as they rush all over the stage trying to keep up with the amazing dancers from An American In Paris.

– Up close, Bradley Cooper looks just like Bradley Cooper. Joe Manganiello is seriously tall.

– I accidentally stepped on the train of Ivanka Trump’s gown, and she was very nice about it. She is also seriously tall.

– When the brilliant Lisa Kron won for her book and lyrics for Fun Home, I watched her and thought, “Lisa looks terrific in her black gown, with all of that glittering embroidery near the neckline.” Then I realized that the glitter was the result of her holding her two Tonys.

– Sydney Lucas, the 11-year-old actress from Fun Home, is astounding. She’s been in the show for awhile, and she sang “Ring of Keys” in front of Helen Mirren and everybody else at Radio City, and the song was still completely fresh and moving. I wondered if Sydney made Alex Sharp, the 26-year-old Best Actor In A Play winner, feel old.

– There was a gala afterwards at the Plaza, encompassing the ballroom and the entire underground gourmet food court, where all of the fancy chocolates, macarons and the yogurt bar were free. It was like a childrens party for grownups.

June 2, 2015

Jim Bailey

thWith so much focus on the amazing Caitlyn Jenner story, there’s been a lot of discussion involving gender identity and sexual preference and masculine and feminine presentation. Amid all this, Jim Bailey has died, at age 77. For those of you too young to remember, Jim was a phenomenon. He was most often called a female impersonator, or a gender illusionist. He would perform uncannily precise and loving, full-drag versions of Streisand, Garland, Peggy Lee and Phyllis Diller, among others. He didn’t lip-synch, as he was an astounding vocalist. During his heyday, especially in the 1970s, he appeared on every major TV variety and talk show, and he was a Vegas headliner. He became friends with his idols, including Diller and Liza Minelli, and he’d perform with them. He was rarely asked about his sexuality, although sometimes ignorant talk show hosts would find it necessary to assure the audience that Jim was “all man.” Through all of this, Jim maintained great dignity and commanded respect for his gifts. He was part of a grand theatrical tradition, of men playing female roles, which stretches from the ancient Greeks through Shakespeare and the English music halls, right up to RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Here’s how I knew Jim: he was especially beloved in San Francisco, where’d he’d sell out the swankiest night clubs. When my play Jeffrey was first performed there, Jim was cast to play the central role of Sterling, an acerbic and great-hearted interior designer. The play’s director, Chris Ashley, and I, first arranged to meet with Jim in a lounge at JFK, because he was touring. As we approached, Chris asked me how we’d recognize Jim. Then we heard his voice, very assertively asking, “Where’s Barbra’s head? WHERE’S BARBRA’S HEAD?” When we found Jim, he was standing amid a stack of deluxe luggage, and searching for the styrofoam stand which held his Barbra Streisand wig.

Jim couldn’t have been more gracious or more excited about doing the play. He appeared on the first day of rehearsal in perfectly tailored black pants with a black cashmere turtleneck sweater and a second black cashmere sweater tossed over his shoulders. He’d already had his script bound in black calfskin, with the title of the play embossed in gold. As rehearsals progressed, there was a problem: while Jim was eager to act, when he wasn’t costumed as one of his legendary divas, he was lost. As Carol Channing or Judy, he was brilliant, but acting in a more ordinary range just wasn’t his sort of thing. He eventually left the production before we opened, which was sad but necessary. The sublime Peter Bartlett, who’d already played Sterling in New York, generously flew in and triumphed.

Jim was a fascinating man, and he’d battled many obstacles and slurs. He always wore a decent amount of make-up, even on the street, and his hair was always immaculately colored and immobile. Out of drag, he seemed even more like a regal, delightful leading lady from the Golden Age. He wasn’t a relic; he was one-of-a-kind. I don’t think Jim was transgender, but I bet he would’ve been a huge fan of Caitlyn Jenner’s, because not only is Caitlyn beautiful and compassionate – she’s a star.