“If you can go through life without experiencing pain
you probably haven’t been born yet.”
There’s a small list of comedy writers that I’ve admired all my life. One of them is at the top of my list. That writer is Neil Simon.
Mr. Simon has written more than thirty plays and nearly the same number of movie screenplays, mostly adaptations of his plays. He has received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer.
I thought I had seen every movie he had ever written, until today on TCM they showed, The Cheap Detective. The movie is a combination of Steve Martin’s, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and Mel Brooks, Young Frankenstein style of humor.
Neil Simon began writing comedy for television for such famous shows as The Phil Silvers Show and Your Show of Shows, for which he earned two Emmy Award nominations. He’s worked alongside other young writers including Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. Simons first play was, Come Blow Your Horn which was followed by Barefoot in The Park and my all time favorite, The Odd Couple.
One of the most helpful writing books I’ve read is written by Neil Simon. Neil Simon Rewrites: A Memoir, was written in 1996 and I still have my first edition hard copy. I also recently bought the e-book edition and read it again for the fifth time. For any aspiring writer, this is a must read.
Neil Simons’ comedy writing was influenced by Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. Simon has said that he often took refuge in movie theaters to escape difficulties at home. “I think part of what made me a comedy writer is the blocking out of some of the really ugly, painful things in my childhood and covering it up with a humorous attitude … do something to laugh until I was able to forget what was hurting.”
The Cheap Detective may not be a traditional Neil Simon movie, but it certainly holds true to the Neil Simon style of writing. It’s packed with double entendres and funny one liners in the charming, classy, clean comedy style of the great Neil Simon.