Ken Ludwig knows from funny.
His plays, such as "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Moon Over Buffalo," have kept audiences chuckling across the country and around the world.
A few years back, Ludwig was casting about for a subject for a new play. He wanted something that was inherently funny.
Then he went golfing.
"There are so many funny things about golf," he says in a phone interview from his Washington, D.C., home.
There are the clothes. The idea of getting a small ball into a small hole from a great distance.
"And there are so many social levels," he adds. "Comedy thrives on society having classes and rules. I thought the class system and rules in golf might work."
Ludwig's "The Fox on the Fairway" opens at Invisible Theatre next week.
It's an over-the-top look at the game and the people who play it.
It takes place in the clubhouse of a country club. Men sashay through in pretty outrageous fashions.
It's the day of a big tournament between two competing clubs. There's little love lost between the directors of the two clubs. One thinks he has snagged a primo player and that he's sure to win the tournament this year - so sure that he bets his wife's business. Then he discovers that that player has been stolen by the other club. What to do, what to do?
"It's a farce," explains Ludwig.
"I usually write comedies, but this is a farce."
Inspired by the likes of P.G. Wodehouse, Oscar Wilde and Arthur Wing Pinero, Ludwig longed to write the type of comedy that marked the 1930s and '40s.
"I thought it would be fun to write the kind of play that I've admired for so many years," he says.
"In the English tradition, those (plays) revolved around sporting themes."
Throughout the play, little gems are dropped, such as "Golf spelled backwards is flog. Think about it." And "Golf is easy. The first thing you do is buy clothes that don't match."
Obviously, Ludwig is a grand fan of comedies. And he thinks he's got his finger on what makes them work.
"It's telling the truth," he says.
"If the audience doesn't believe or care, they aren't going to laugh. The key is don't ever try to be funny. The minute you try to be funny, you lose the laugh."
if you go
• What: Invisible Theatre's production of "The Fox on the Fairway."
• By: Ken Ludwig.
• Director: Susan Claassen.
• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
• When: Preview, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; opening is 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays through May 12.
• Tickets: Preview, $18; opening and regular performances, $28. If available, tickets are half-price 30 minutes before curtain.
• Reservations, information: 882-9721or www.invisibletheatre.com
• Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission.
• Cast: William Hubbard, Lori Hunt, Victoria McGee, Robert Mower, Jack Neubeck and Lucille Petty.
Contact writer Kathleen Allen at email@example.com or 573-4128.