Laughter on the 23rd Floor is a play by Neil Simon. It focuses on the star and writers of a TV comedy-variety show in the s, inspired by Simon's own early career experience as a junior writer along with his brother Danny for Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour. The play focuses on Sid Caesar -like Max Prince, the star of a weekly comedy-variety show circa , and his staff, including Simon's alter-ego Lucas Brickman, who maintains a running commentary on the writing, fighting, and wacky antics which take place in the writers' room. Max has an ongoing battle with NBC executives, who fear his humor is too sophisticated for Middle America. The play is notable not only for its insider's look at the personalities and processes of television comedy writing, but also for its reflection of the political and social undercurrents of its time, in particular the rise of Joseph McCarthy, relationships between various European American ethnicities, and attitudes toward women.
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It was a horrible time in crucial ways sexism, racism, the Communist witch hunts. But on the surface, it was lovely. Americans dressed up for the office, took three-hour lunches and seemed to smoke and drink blithely with little thought of the consequences. All that postwar confidence! The play, which opened on Broadway in and was turned into a television movie in , was inspired by Mr.
After all, any one of them could be accused of Communist sympathies and declared unemployable. The closest thing to a joke about Senator Joseph R. Elsewhere the play, nicely directed here by Pamela Moller Kareman, has its share of one-liners. They point to food in supermarkets. The man the staff writes comedy for is Max Prince Steve Perlmutter. When Nathan Lane played the role on Broadway, critics suggested that he sometimes seemed a lot like Jackie Gleason. Perlmutter bears a greater physical resemblance to the young Sid Caesar , and he succeeds in making a rather slight man the unpredictable terror and object of fear that powerful bosses can be.
First, the network wants to cut it to an hour from 90 minutes. Then the bosses insist that they trim the budget by firing one of the writers. By the time of the Christmas party, the situation has deteriorated. Home Page World U.
You Call This a Golden Age? 1950s TV, via Neil Simon
Auditions: Laughter on the 23rd Floor