Exploring the Comedy Genius of Larry Shue

Larry Shue is a name that might not ring a bell for everyone, but his comedic brilliance has left an indelible mark on the theater world.

Early Life and Background

Born in New Orleans in 1946, Larry Shue was raised in a household that valued humor and creativity. He developed a keen sense of observation and a love for making people laugh. Little did he know that these early experiences would shape his future as a renowned playwright.

Theater: A Second Home

Shue’s love for the stage grew during college when he discovered a passion for acting and writing. He graduated cum laude from Illinois Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He then served in the United States Army at Fort Lee, Virginia from 1968 to 1972. His journey took a decisive turn when he joined the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, which marked the beginning of his illustrious career.

The Breakthrough: The Nerd

The Nerd, 1996

Larry Shue’s breakthrough came with his play The Nerd, produced in London’s West End in 1981. The show transferred to Broadway in 1987. The story revolves around an architect, Willum, whose life takes a hilarious turn when an unexpected guest arrives, bringing chaos and laughter in equal measure.

Following the success of The Nerd, Shue continued to dazzle audiences with The Foreigner in 1983.

The Foreigner, 1983


Tragic Loss and Legacy

Larry Shue’s promising career was tragically cut short. He was 39 when he lost his life in a plane crash in 1985. At the time, Shue was preparing for his first big Broadway role, as Reverend Crisparkle in Joseph Papp’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Analyzing Shue’s Comedy

His unique blend of situational comedy and character-driven humor sets Larry Shue apart. His plays often explore the absurdity of human interactions, drawing laughter from the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make us human. Shue’s characters are relatable, flawed, and, above all, immensely entertaining.

Impact on Contemporary Theater

Larry Shue’s influence extends beyond his own works. Playwrights and actors alike continue to draw inspiration from his comedic style. The enduring popularity of The Nerd and The Foreigner attests to the timelessness of Shue’s humor, proving that laughter knows no boundaries.

The Nerd, 1989

Performances of The Nerd start February 23. Get your tickets now!