Neil Simon

Scribes and songsmiths

Maybe William Shakespeare has clocked in more perfs on Broadway than Neil Simon. Then again, maybe not, considering the superlong runs of “The Odd Couple,” “Sweet Charity,” “Promises, Promises” and “The Sunshine Boys” among many others. Simon started in the 1950s as a radio and TV script writer, most famously with Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” gang that included Mel Brooks and Larry Gelbart, and achieved success with his first full-length play, “Come Blow Your Horn,” in 1961. The legit comedies that followed, from “Barefoot in the Park” to “Plaza Suite,” gave expression to urban angst through well-honed one-liners that quickly inspired a slew of TV imitators. Ironically, Simon’s enormous influence on the tube has nearly made light comedy extinct on Broadway today. The exception, of course, is Simon, who is back in 2005-’06 with revivals of “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Odd Couple,” which quickly sold out. While Simon remains the king of comedy, the Pulitzer Prize escaped him until he turned more serious with “Lost in Yonkers,” in 1991.

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