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Shorter, Faster, Funnier: Comic Plays and Monologues (Vintage Original) Paperback – May 3, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Original
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307476642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307476647
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

Asian chefs cite five flavor notes—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy—without which no meal is complete. While assembling the plays in this anthology, the editors enjoyed a dazzling range of comedic hors d'oeuvres. From laugh-out-loud funny to subtly amusing, caustic, witty, or outrageous, there are as many flavors of comedy as there are sense of humor.

We read over 400 short plays and monologues to create this all-you-can-eat comic buffet. We found delectable morsels by celebrated humorists Christopher Durang (Funeral Parlor), David Ives (The Blizzard), Warren Leight (Norm-Anon), Mark O'Donnell (You Know Who Else I Hate?), and Theresa Rebeck (The Contract); inspiring monologues by actor/playwrights Halley Feiffer (Thank You So Much fo Stopping), Dan Berkowitz (Sourpuss), and Tony Award winner Mary Louise Wilson (Tirade); plus enough superb audition pieces, two-handers, and ensemble plays to satisfy laugh-hungry actors, readers, and audience members.

We chose monologues of all lengths, from Liz Ellison's swift Gabrielle and Elizabeth Wong's spiky Ripper Girl to Jeffrey Hatcher's epic Match Wits with Minka Lupino, from his monologue trio Murderers. Pete Barry's irascible businessman extends his free fall from a plane to hilarious lengths in Nine Point Eight Meters per Second per Second. Jane Shephard's Long Distance reveals a man's thorny encounter with a former classmate, while Edwin Sánchez's Ernesto the Magnificent fiercely paints a performance by an embittered sword swallower.

There's also a wealth of play for two actors. Amy Herzog's Christmas Present, Mark Harvey Levine's The Rental, and Garth Wingfield's Mary Just Broke Up with This Guy put unique spins on the staple of comedy, boy meets girl. In Anton Dudley's romantic Getting Home, boy meets hunky Indian cabdriver. The couple in Eric Lane's Curtain Raiser tackles an abandoned Woolworth building; in Wayne Rawley's The Scary Question, another couple bonds over zombies.

There are graceful duets for young actors, including Samara Siskind's Bar Mitzvah Boy, Megan Mostyn-Brown's The Woods Are for Suckers and Chumps, Michael Mitnick's Life without Subtext, and Ean Miles Kessler's bullet-paced Brotherly Love. Senior actors will cherish Peter Handy's bittersweet Friendship and Drew Larimore's The Anniversary, quite possibly the first play about retirees in postapocalyptic Siberia.

Three plays for two actresses—Nicole Quinn's lyrical Sandchair Cantata, Laura Shaine's poignant The Whole Truth & Nothing but the Bluetooth, and Barbara Wiechmann's salty duet for obsessed Realtors, 36 Rumson Road—treat women's darkest anxieties with a refreshingly light touch.

On the testosterone side, Dan Kois's The Rumor outs a surprising scandal in men's sports, Gary Winter's I Love Neil LaBute deftly skewers the playwright dubbed "America's reigning misanthrope," and Dana Yeaton's Men in Heat bares the mysteries of the male biological clock.

Genders bend freely in Adam Bock's Three Guys and a Brenda, in which all four title characters are played by actresses. Nina Shengold's Double Date upends political correctness by taking "joined at the hip" at face value, while Jacquelyn Reingold's A Very Very Short Play sparks an airplane romance between a one-foot-tall woman and a twelve-foot-tall man, both played by actors of average height.

Rob Ackerman's You Have Arrived also encourages very non-traditional casting, as one of its actresses plays a GPS monitor. Other three-character plays include John Augustine's uproariously acerbic cell-phone-age comedy PeopleSpeak and Caleen Sinnette Jennings's Uncovered, which finds gallows humor in the post-Katrina cleanup. Eric Coble's physical comedy H.R. is equally topical, observing a quartet of cubicle workers whipping themselves into a froth at the prospect of being downsized.

Three plays with larger casts go back to school for laughs. Billy Aronson's Reunions offers a wonderfully demented spin on catching-up small talk among high school alumni, Philip Dawkin's whimsical Nothing riffs on an alien invasion at school, and the gruff coach in Daryl Watson's hilarious Snap tries to whip his dozens insult team (including a stuttering girl with unforeseen gifts) into shape.

For divinely inspired slapstick humor, try Mikhail Horowitz's Mere Vessels, a fearless inquiry into the spiritual lives of ventriloquists' dummies, or Elizabeth Meriwether's Particle Board, which gives the pompous Great Man documentary a well-deserved plank in the face.

As editors of more than a dozen play anthologies, we've been gratified to hear of many multiplay productions culled from our previous books. We urge readers of Shorter, Faster, Funnier to enjoy these plays in any way you can: read them aloud with friends; mount a stage reading, full production, or evening of short plays. As always, be sure to acquire the proper rights first—playwrights don't take kindly to finding unauthorized performances in online listings or YouTube postings. Contacts for performance rights are listed in the back of this book, along with playwrights' biographies and an index by cast size.

Whatever your comic taste, you're sure to find something within these pages to make you laugh. You'll also find heartache and suspense, poetic language and raunchy jokes. Comedy is a many-flavored banquet, and we invite you to pull up a chair. Enjoy!

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Miller on April 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great collection which contains scenes for all age groups and number of characters in a scene. In my opinion, about 10% is laugh out loud funny, 30% just plain funny, 40% humourous, and the remaining 20% is so-so. I was looking for language/character driven humour for older folks and found some great examples in this book. Originally bought as an e-book for Kobo, but could not print any scenes as the copy/print option was prohibited for this book. Books which includes theatrical pieces, (i.e., plays, scenes, monologues) should be printable off an e-book or off an Adobe program on the computer. I believe this restriction on e-book versions has kept me from ordering more plays, monologues or scene books on Kobo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julie E Asta-Ferrero on April 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So many plays!! They are great! They are funny! They are perfect for acting students or directing students. Perfect length for class projects or simply to read.
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I bought this to find selections for high school forensics competitions. Like many similar collections, the quality of each selection varies. The real gem in this collection is "Bar Mitzvah Boy." It's one of the cutest duo scenes and has some depth. For High School, the roles for males are stronger in this collection.. If you're doing college forensics, there's some good stuff here for both sexes. To cut many of the scenes to make it appropriate for high school, it would often take the life out of the selection.
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