You may know Neil Simon for his Jewish trilogy plays Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, and Broadway Bound, his famed Broadway show (and movie) The Odd Couple or the sexy Sweet Charity which won a Tony award for Bob Fosse’s choreography. Or… like me, you may have just vaguely heard of Neil Simon. You knew he was a playwright, right? And maybe that he was Jewish?
Neil Simon’s first play, “Come Blow Your Horn” – filled with his trademark one-liners and master comedy – is coming to Minneapolis’ Theatre in the Round from July 2nd – August 1st, and the show’s run is a great opportunity to take a look at the life and work (most say with Neil, there’s no difference) of one of Broadway’s greatest and most prolific comedic stars – at one point he had four shows on Broadway at once; and we’re giving away TWO PAIRS of tickets to see the show, so keep reading. [FREE TICKETS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE.]
[Eds note: Read our review of the show here]
Who is Neil Simon?
Nominated for seventeen Tony Award (won 3x). Wrote 20+ screenplays, winning 4 Best Screenplay Oscars. Won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. But awards and prestige aside, what’s most fascinating (to me at least, and you have to read this, because you want the tickets, right?) is how Simon became the writer that he is (yes, is – at 82, he’s still writing).
I mean, how many playwrights grow up the Jewish younger son of a garment salesman in the Lower East Side during the Depression, struggle with poverty as a child, get a job in the Warner Brother’s mailroom, quit to write radio and TV scripts with their brother, and then start writing some of Broadway’s most performed plays?
Most of his plays are comedies, pickled with classic one-liners. Why comedy? He loved comedy films growing up and often got kicked out of movie theaters as a child for laughing too loud. Most were also based on his own life experiences – with childhood poverty, his first, second, third, fourth and fifth marriages (no kidding), mid-life crises, and family drama.
What is “Come Blow Your Horn”? And Why Should I See It?
“Come Blow Your Horn” was Neil Simon’s first Broadway show, premiering in the U.S. in 1961. It was also made into a film starring Frank Sinatra (so it must be good, right?). Simon’s first comedy, its rapid-fire one liners derivative of his time writing for Caesar’s Show of Shows with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and for a time, Woody Allen.
The play is based on Simon’s own experiences moving in with his older brother. It tells the story of a young, naive man who moves in with his older womanizing brother to live it up a bit. A coming of age tale in the Swinging Sixties.
Of the play, Simon once said “It wasn’t much of a play. But it gave me enough money to get through to the next one.” But really, who listens to the playwright? What does he know? Didn’t your Bubbe always tell you to think for yourself?
How can I win a free pair of tickets?
Theatre in the Round has generously given TC Jewfolk two FREE pairs of tickets to raffle off to the “Come Blow Your Horn” performance of your choice. All you have to do to enter is answer this question in the comments below. Do you think it’s a cop out for a playwright to base their plays on their personal life experiences? Or is that only natural?
Remember – there’s no right or wrong answer. This is a raffle. We’re not judging. You have until June 24th at midnight to enter to win. Good luck!