Laughter on the 23rd Floor
 by Neil Simon
 Stetson University Theatre Arts “Second Stage”
 November 2015

This play is based very closely on Neil Simon's experience as a young television writer for Sid Caesar's live television variety shows “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar's Hour, both live broadcast television sketch comedy shows.  It is a fictionalized history of life behind the camera during the early days of television.

The play takes place in a writer's room on the 23rd floor of a television network building in New York in 1953. (Historically, on the 11th and 12th floors of NBC's Rockefeller Center). The writers are quirky and talented experts in comedy writing working in this new medium of television. They face censorship not only from the network, who wants them to commercialize (ie, dumb down)  their comedy for the “unsophisticated mass audience,” but from the political machine of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who House UnAmerican Activities Committee was engaged in a “witch-hunt” for communists in the entertainment industry.

The characters in the play are based on the real-life comedy greats who worked alongside Neil Simon and his brother Danny, most of which went on to write, direct, produce and/or star in films and television shows of their own. These include Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Aaron Ruben, and Sid Caesar.  With a plot based on actual people and events, the result is not only stranger but funnier than fiction.

The play is presented as a window into the creative processes of some of the most talented minds in television comedy, and includes the highlights of some of their most hilarious - and unbelievably, true - moments.

We were very fortunate to have two professional theatre artists working with us on the production are AJ Garcia (costumer) and John Kiselica (lighting designer).






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Copyright © 2016 by Ken McCoy.