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Laughter on the 23rd Floor

by Neil Simon

Time for a comedy. Seriously.

Though, I gotta say. Not my favorite Neil Simon. I mean, it's funny... well, more appropriately, it's PUN-ny. And I'm not big on puns. The Great Divide dressing room knows that by now.

Annyway.. Laughter was fun to read because it takes you inside the writer's room (based on Simon's own experiences in such rooms) and inside the heads of scribes whose very worth depends on their ability to pen a funny line.

What makes the play enjoyable are the over-the-top quirks of the individual characters. The group is so ridiculous that you just have to love them. I've been in many a writer's meeting, having done sketch comedy since college, and let's just say.. things can get pretty crazy.

Something that struck me: Carol, the only female writer in this "man's world" of comedy, is asked for her female point of view on something. She tells her boss, "I don't want to be considered a woman. I want to be considered a writer." I think even today, women have to work much harder to be perceived as funny, and even then they face the dilemma of, 'should I go sexy-funny' (a la The House Bunny) or 'witty-funny' (a la Liz Lemon) (not that they are always mutually-exclusive. just, usually) .. I mean, it's rough for women in the comedy world. There's a great article in last week's New Yorker with Anna Faris on this very topic.

Carol continues:
After five years in here, Max, you think I know what a woman's point of view is? I come home at night smelling from cigar smoke, I have to put my dress in a humidor... I never said a crude word in my life before I came here. But now I go home to my fucking house and talk to my fucking husband like a fucking sailor. It's okay. I don't mind. If you lived in France for five years, you'd speak French. But I'm not in France. I'm here so I speak fuck... I don't want to be called a woman writer. I want to be called a good writer, and if it means being one of the guys then I'll be one of the guys. I can handle it.
A perfectly valid pov, Carol, but what I think the female comedians of today are doing is attempting to bring the gap between "male-comedy" and "rom-com" just a liiitle closer together, to prove that life is funny and therefore, we're all funny, regardless of what parts we have.

Tomorrow's Play: Elemeno Pea by Molly Smith Metzler


Gwen said...

I recently found your blog and love it! The play reviews are thorough and I love the excerpts. You have helped me with my summer reading list.

I have a suggestion- once you feel you have a good list, make some top 10 lists. You know, top 10 comedies, Shakespeare, etc. I'd really like to see that.

carry on,


Lauren Sowa said...

That's a great idea, thanks Gwen! Happy reading!


' (1) absurdist (1) american (68) British (17) chekhov (1) classical (33) comedic (49) contemporary (108) dramatic (44) fairy-tale (1) farce (8) helen keller (1) impediment (2) Irish (1) musical (2) no role (3) nudity (1) one-act (9) pulitzer (4) role (117) serio-comedic (43) shakespeare (4) Shaw (2) thriller (1) tragedy (4) translation (3) war (2)