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Laughter in the Dark

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Lane and Irwin in Waiting for Godot.  

[To Lane] How does this compare to your other famous buddy comedy?
NL: It’s a team, and in The Producers it was a team. That was a father-son relationship, taking him under my wing and corrupting him. This one is a kind of marriage; they bicker like a couple, but they need each other. If you’re talking about chemistry, that’s just either there or it isn’t. We’ve been told we work well together.

So would Bill be a good companion in an existential wasteland of relentless tedium?
NL: Yes, absolutely, or Joan Rivers. I find her endlessly amusing. But yes, Bill is a very good partner to have in an existential wasteland.

Like, for instance, being on the same stage night after night, repeating the same lines?
NL: Sure, absolutely, that’s an analogy. As much as you love something, there’s still going to be days where you go, “I can’t go on like this!” And you do go on, because that’s your job.
BI: My God, the number of audiences that each of us has stepped in front of! But it’s particular each time. If you start getting slick and saying, “I know how to work the house … ”
NL: Who’s that guy? He would be no fun. In this play, you really can’t count on anything. Every audience has a different reaction. Sometimes it’s nervous laughter, sometimes they’re just uncomfortable. But I would hope that people would come with an open mind. If you’ve heard that it’s like homework or castor oil, you should probably stay home and watch 24.

Why all of a sudden all this raw, difficult work on Broadway?
NL: It’s a healthy season. People are maybe taking more risks because of the economy.

And it’s also relatively cheap to do.
BI: Cheaper than a musical, but not without risks.
NL: You’re not doing Send Me No Flowers. It is Waiting for Godot.

[To Irwin] Your next job couldn’t be further from Godot: You’ll be playing Harry McAfee in a Roundabout production of Bye Bye Birdie this fall.
BI: Godot turned out to be—and Nathan agrees with me on this—the hardest thing either of us has done. And so I’m counting on Birdie to be easier: I sure hope it will be. But then I also realize you can’t count on anything; I didn’t think Godot would be this hard.


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