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Laugh Lines: Short Comic Plays Paperback – April 10, 2007


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Laugh Lines: Short Comic Plays + Take Ten: New 10-Minute Plays + Take Ten II: More Ten-Minute Plays
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307277135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307277138
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This set of 34 comic dramas, many of which would run 15 minutes at most in performance, by contemporary or nearly contemporary Americans, some famous, many not, ranges from the sublime to the tedious. The best pieces in the collection, such as Christopher Durang's divinely insane Wanda's Visit, are comic gems in miniature. Others, such as Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn's comedy-sketch-sized Miss You, show the antic side of writers known mostly for more serious work. Other well-known names to be found in the wide-ranging anthology include Alan Ball, David Cale, David Lindsay-Abaire, Steve Martin, and Elaine May, all represented by rarely collected one acts. Still, the real strength of the book arises from editors Lane and Shengold's spirit of inclusiveness, which allows obscure but hilarious writers to appear cheek by jowl with_better-known funny women and men. Jack Helbig
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Eric Lane and Nina Shengold have been editing contemporary theater anthologies for more than twenty years. Eric Lane's award-winning plays have been published and performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, and China. Plays include Ride, Times of War, Heart of the City, Dancing on Checkers' Grave, and Filming O'Keeffe. Floating, a PlayPenn finalist, was workshopped at Raven Theatre. Eric's short plays are published in Best American Short Plays, Poems and Plays, and the Foreign Language Press (Beijing). He wrote and produced the short films First Breath and Cater-Waiter, which he also directed; both films screened in more than forty cities worldwide. For TV's Ryan's Hope he received a Writers Guild Award. Honors include the Berrilla Kerr Playwriting Award, the La MaMa Playwright Award, and fellowships at Yaddo, VCCA, and St. James Cavalier in Malta. Eric is an honors graduate of Brown University, and artistic director of Orange Thoughts, a not-for-profit theater and film company in New York City.

Nina Shengold's plays include Finger Foods, War at Home, Homesteaders, and Romeo/Juliet, and have been produced around the world. Her one-act No Shoulder was filmed by director Suzi Yoonessi, with Melissa Leo and Samantha Sloyan. Nina won a Writers Guild Award for her teleplay Labor of Love, starring Marcia Gay Harden; other teleplays include Blind Spot, with Joanne Woodward and Laura Linney, and Unwed Father. Her books include the novel Clearcut; River of Words: Portraits of Hudson Valley Writers (with photographer Jennifer May), and a growing posse of pseudonymous books for young readers. A graduate of Wesleyan, she is currently teaching creative writing at Manhattanville College. Nina lives in New York's Hudson Valley, where she has been books editor of Chronogram magazine since 2004.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Karen Kessler on August 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
I got this book for my son, who is an acting student in a conservatory program. His summer assignment was to find a comic and dramatic monologue and this book has been invaluable. He has recommended it to several of his classmates, because the quality of the pieces is so strong. Shengold and Lane did an amazing job finding comic works. Bravo!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Fox on July 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
... and so do a number of my students, to whom I've recommended this book as they look for material. Sure, I have my favorites among them -- and they don't ALL work for me -- but I think Shengold and Lane have done a real service by collecting off-beat and very hip material. I look at scene anthologies all the time, and this one is among the freshest and sharpest I know. If you're an actor looking for comic material, I recommend it highly!
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
Dying is easy, comedy is hard. We've all heard that line, haven't we? Yes, death is very easy. This book compiles examples of comic playwrights falling dead left and right.

Editors Land and Shengold desperately wanted to pack thirty-six comic poems into one 500-page book. Well, they won at that gamble. This collection of one-acts, ten minute plays, and skits weighs in at a modest page count and a reasonable price. I read the whole thing in two nights, and I read it again over the next two nights. What I didn't do much was laugh.

Many of these plays desperately want you to know they're funny. Plays like O'Donnell's "There Shall Be No Bottom" and Lindsay-Abaire's "How We Talk In South Boston" desperately wave in your face what wacky fun they are. They're practically doing jazz hands and yelling wokka-wokka to get you to laugh. And like a Borscht Belt comedian who can't hold a crowd, the harder they try to make you laugh, the more you want to flee.

Other plays are supposed to be funny, but I'm forced to take that on faith. Leight's "Mars Has Never Been So Close" and Strand's "Rosa's Eulogy" feel more like finger exercises for writers than anything a producer would want to subsidize. There are plays by some recognized names like Steve Martin and Shel Silverstein that I can only imagine made it between these covers because the authors are famous names.

In fairness there are a few plays that are actually funny. Jonathan Rand's "Check, Please" and Elaine May's "The Way of All Fish" trust their characters and their audience enough to venture forward, expecting us to know real humor when we see it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sibby on July 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I teach a comedy workshop for a community theater and Laugh Lines provides great material for practice sessions. Funny stuff and a very good variety of characters in short play farmat.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mpstar on November 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this series of play collections - I own pretty much all of the books by these editors. I use them all the time to find good contemporary material I can perform for class and auditions. This is my most recent read, and there was some really fun stuff in it. I created a monologue from a character's dialogue in one of the plays, which I used for an acting showcase, and I got a LOT of laughs - dare I say the most laughs of the night. Anyway, these are enjoyable to read, fun to draw material from, and interesting to perform. Recommended.
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