One of this season’s funniest musicals got its start from … Mario Kart.
So say David Rossmer and Steve Rosen, the writers and stars of off-Broadway’s “The Other Josh Cohen.” In Los Angeles eight years ago, the night before pitching their TV pilot, they figured a little Mario action would calm their nerves.
“But we never ended up playing it,” Rossmer says, “because the music sounded like a Neil Diamond song!” They pulled a guitar from the wall, and before dawn broke over the Hollywood sign, they had written seven Diamond-esque tunes.
Well, sort of: The lyrics came from takeout-food menus from places like Manna Korean BBQ. And while their TV pilot never took off (“The woman we met got fired four days later,” says Rosen), they’d started on a musical. With its quirky, New York-y plot set to music — a poor, lovelorn guy receives a mysterious check in the mail — it’s been described as “Seinfeld” meets Rodgers and Hart.
“We started writing it for nothing but our own joy,” Rossmer tells The Post. “We were both single and feeling unlucky in love, and needed to cheer ourselves up.”
The 40-ish friends met as teenagers at an arts camp. Paired off randomly for an improv sketch, they spontaneously spilled drinks on each other. “I kept thinking, ‘I gotta meet this guy,’ ” Rosen says. “He’s hilarious!’’
Years later, they wound up in New York, honing “Cohen” between other writing gigs and acting stints in other projects, including Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” series. They weren’t sure how to tie in the music until someone burglarized Rosen’s apartment. What if, they wondered, thieves took everything from Josh except for a single Diamond CD? And so a plot was born.
Diamond has yet to see the show, playing at the Westside Theatre. (The 77-year-old’s publicist says he was unavailable for comment.) One wonders how he’d take its gentle mockery — and the fact that he’s played by a woman in a big wig and sunglasses, who nudges Josh to push on.
“Neil’s the hero of our story,” Rossmer tells The Post.
“Neil!” Rosen cries. “Come see our musical!”
Source: Read Full Article