The revival of Enter Laughing that opened Saturday night at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor had me howling so hard I nearly needed my own reviving. That's because Richard Kind is impossibly funny, and Josh Grisetti matches him zany move for move in the role of David Kolowitz. A cross between Pee-wee Herman and Alan Cumming, he's hilarious when he enters laughing, trying out every guffaw, hiccup, chuckle, snort, belly-wrenching hoot in his repertoire.
Grisetti was to have played Eugene Morris Jerome in the ill-fated production of Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, a character cut from the same ethnic cloth as his David, except that Enter Laughing is based loosely on the life of Carl Reiner, with book by Joseph Stein, music by Stan Daniels. Under Stuart Ross' direction, the characters play out David's ambitions to become a Broadway actor as well as his adolescent, pubescent fantasies with girlfriend Wanda (Emily Shoolin) and Miss B (Gina Milo).
In one daydream Kind, who plays Harrison Marlowe, the theater owner who gives David his first break, doubles as his butler, making excuses on the phone. Garbo calls, improbably enough, and Kind croons that his boss is too busy, in bed with Dolores del Rio.
The real-life couple Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker play David's parents, who want only for him to become a pharmacist. Oy! Tucker does a charming soft shoe with Ray Demattis, a Tweedledum and Tweedledee duet. Kate Shindle is the consummate vamp as Marlowe's leading-lady daughter. In fact, there's not a sagging moment in this buoyant production that started out off-Broadway at the York Theater in 2008. Broadway bound? I hope so.
Talk about lofty aspirations! At the Richard Prince opening, writer James Frey asked who I thought was the greatest writer in America. I had recently read Denis Johnson's soon-to-be-published Train Dreams, a poetic work in a long career of wonderful novels. I had to go with him, although I might have said Jayne Anne Phillips. Frey seemed disappointed.
This could have been an apt encounter for the annual Authors Night at the East Hampton Library. Founded by Alec Baldwin and Barbara Goldsmith, the event started with 60 locally-based writers getting their publishers to donate books for sale to benefit the library. This year, 170 squeezed under the big tent, with piles of books and crowds filling up their bags, chatting, photographing, signing-Of course the celebrity authors created traffic jams: Susan Lucci, Dick Cavett, Robert Klein, Martin Amis; Baldwin's arrival caused a swell, even though this year he was book-less.
To mention some favorites: Jane Julianelli's The Naked Shoe: The Artistry of Mabel Julianelli is a gorgeous picture book featuring her mother's designs, Lewis Gross' Montauk Tango is a fiction based on his family's post-9/11 story moving out east and his wife's opening Six Six Eight, a popular brunch and bakery café, Amy Zerner and Monte Farber, dressed in mystical tones, had their new zodiac guide to birthdays. Hannah Pakula's Madame Chang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China looks intriguing. Also on my to-read list: Alafair Burke's Long Gone and Tracey Jackson's Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty is not the New Thirty, although I'm terrified to find out.
Jules Feiffer was buying, not seated with a stack. He had just purchased Robert Caro's The Power Broker. Laughing, he read the inscription out loud. His pal Caro had written, 'Not for Jules.'
The book sale is traditionally followed by private dinners to honor the authors. I attended a home-cooked buffet at Carol and Dennis McCrone's house, celebrating North Fork resident, film critic Jeffrey Lyons' new book, Stories My Father Told Me.
I do hope Carol will write a cookbook.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.