NEIL SIMON: UTILIZING CHARACTER EXAGGERATION
"Neil ("Doc") Simon stands alone as by far the most successful American playwright of this century and most probably in the history of the American theater" (Litz 573). He has entertained audiences for over thirty years with many Broadway productions, screenplays and television scripts. "He has been hailed as the most formidable comedy writer in American theater" (Geitner 253). Despite his great success, the majority of critics have refused to look past Simon's "detonatingly funny" quips and punchlines to the subject matter in his plays (Geitner 253). "He has been virtually ignored by these literary critics, who routinely dismiss him as a writer of popular comedies that cater to the tastes of a well-established and loyal audience" (Litz 573). It is occasionally true that Simon sacrifices meaning and depth for a good joke, but "even in Simon’s lightest comedies there are undertones of seriousness" (Geitner 253). Simon illustrates serious themes through the medium of comedy. He conveys the conflict while at the same time, cracks a joke. According to Simon, "My idea of ultimate achievement in a comedy is to make a whole audience fall onto floor, writhing and laughing so hard that some of them pass out" (Geitner 254). Simon uses different elements to put stress on the conflict and also to aid in the humor of his plays. The jokes that Simon produces arise from the situation, usuallybrought forth by variegated elements, one of which is character exaggeration.
In two of his early plays, Come Blow Your Horn and Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Simon utilizes character exaggeration. In each of these plays the conflicts are aided by the exaggeration of the characters, which reveals each character’s personality clearly and accurately. Situations are intensified and apparent, thus the underlying conflict is easily perceived. The character exaggeration also promotes themes that arise throughout Simon’s plays.
Neil Simon's Come Blow Your Horn, is centered around two brothers, Alan and Buddy. They both work for their father's waxed fruit company. Alan, the older of the brothers, is a swinging bachelor who comes fully equipt with his own apartment and many willing women to fill it. Buddy, on the other hand, is Alan's opposite, hard working and conscientious.
The play opens up with Alan trying to seduce one of his lady friends, Peggy, with whom he spent the weekend at a ski resort. To overstate his character further, he repeatedly called Peggy, "Connie" who is another one of his girlfriends. To top it off , he, unknowly at the time, missed an important sales meeting. After Peggy left, Alan's kid brother Buddy enters. Buddy had just moved out of his parents house to live with Alan, unbeknownst to his parents. Alan is happy to see his brother brake away from their overbearing parents.
Soon after, their father, Mr. Barker enters. Simon...