February 23, 2006

There is a song in the Holocaust musical I’m writing in which a member of the Jewish Council of Elders is forced to draw up lists of names of people to be sent east on trains to Auschwitz. At one point in the song, his wife sings name after name, and after every one, he sings, “The train.”

When we wrote this song a few months ago, the lyricist gave me a historically accurate list of names of people who had been sent east. The problem was that the music I had written was longer than the list, so when I had reached the end of the names there were still several measures of wordless music.

It was very late at night, so I couldn’t call him and ask for more names. I considered doing some online research and coming up with more names on my own, but the fact that such a step would have required actual work on my part made me dismiss it almost instantly as a viable possibility.

So I ended up just using the names of people I don’t like. Men who turned me down for dates when I was single, writers who have won awards for which I applied even though they are less talented than I am, my fifth-grade teacher who was so mean to me–in the presentations of my show tonight through Saturday, they’re all headed out to be gassed.

I had to fuck with the pronunciations of certain names to make them fit the music. Ordinarily I would be so appalled at the thought of a misset word as to shrink in horror from anyone who suggested such a thing, but in this case the feeling is outweighed by the enormous satisfaction I feel every time I hear that one of my enemies is on his or her way to the showers.

Perhaps I’ve been working on this show too long.

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17 Responses to There is a song in the Holocaust musical I’m writing in which

  1. Lisa says:

    Wow. I love you! If you need anymore names, I have some for you!

  2. Groomzilla says:


  3. Bhoygary says:

    And that, Mister Derfner, is only one reason why such an horror as the Holocaust could ever happen. Bravo.

    Joel Derfner….The train.

  4. John says:

    That is pretty twisted. What did E.S. think of that??

  5. aimee says:

    Such power!
    Must be an amazing feeling.

  6. Mush says:

    You are so evil. Bad, bad, bad Faustus.

  7. anapestic says:

    I’m sure that the rumors that you stole the song from Fantasy Island: The Musical (in which a duet involves Mr. Rourke listing the names of guests while Tattoo responds “The Plane”) are nothing more than outrageous slanders.

  8. Joe R says:

    Would you please put Ira Cohen, a former landlord, in the list.

  9. Cooper says:

    That’s horrible. I’m ashamed for you.

  10. jim says:

    I wonder if this a karma issue?

  11. Penguin says:

    For the sake of the musical, I hope you don’t have many Asian or African or Latino enemies.

  12. Michael says:

    Even for you, this is dark.

  13. Mike Nautgill says:

    I was considering coming to see your show. At the moment though, I have no desire to hear the names of men who have slighted you, mixed in, perhaps, with those of my boyfriend’s relatives that spent their last moments screaming/choking/being trampled in efforts to escape. But that’s just me. Apparently posters like “Lisa” and “Joe R” think the idea is simply delightful.

  14. sam says:

    Schadenfreude indeed

  15. Z says:

    Who would have thought the holocaust would be such a touchy subject! πŸ™‚ (and this is coming from someone whose entire family sanz his grandparents was wiped out) The names are irrelevant. Would anyone have known if he didnt say anything? Probably not. To boycott and to compare F. to the likes of Nazis for including certain names is absurd. πŸ™‚ Good show tonight!

  16. David says:

    I adore you but this made my bowels uneasy. Of course I just came back from Israel and a trip to Yad Vashem, so I may be biased.

  17. raph says:

    raphael: that’s so ghastly!

    natalie: that’s so funny!


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