Ross Carter saw the original production of Run for Your Wife in London in 1983.
"I remember wanting the play to end because my sides were hurting from laughing," Carter said.
So, it goes without saying that the play was a success, and that's why Carter, a Lexington actor and director, loves comedy.
"It's the most honest relationship in theater," Carter says. "You know what the audience came for. They know what they came for, and they either laugh or they don't."
Carter is, of course, hoping for big laughs with his production of Run for Your Wife, which opens for a three-week run at Studio Players this weekend.
The Ray Cooney play, such a theater staple that Danville's Pioneer Playhouse will be presenting it later this summer, is about a London man, John Smith, who is married to two women. He has been juggling two homes using the mercurial schedule of his job as a cab driver as an excuse for being away for long spells.
But the charade starts to unravel when he saves a woman from a burglar. He is initially hailed as a hero, but his picture in the newspaper threatens to blow his cover, and the police become suspicious when it seems John has two homes.
Things start to get wacky when John, aided by his friend Stanley, has to duck the cops and cover clues to his bigamy.
"There is no artistic message, no moral to the story," Carter says of the play. "It's just make 'em laugh, beginning to end, and that's hard."
Carter invokes the theater aphorism, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard," explaining his love of humor.
It goes back to the laughter thing.
"In drama, you can say, 'Oh, it created a mood' or 'The moral came through,' or other things to explain something that maybe didn't quite work," Carter said. "But if comedy doesn't work, you know it."
Carter has become known for his comedic chops around Lexington, being Studio Players' go-to guy for farce and developing comic roles like the self- important theater director in The Woodford Theatre's The Christmas Presence last December.
As Carter describes it, comedy can be a fine science.
He recalls directing a production of Shakespeare in Hollywood at Studio a few years ago.
"There was an actress who had this one line that killed us every night," Carter says. "No matter how many times she did it, we always broke up.
"Then the show opened, that line came, and there was nothing. Dead. A few more performances came, and still, nothing. Finally, at the end of the second week, I noticed she was wearing her cap a little bit low. People couldn't see her eyebrows. So we had her move it back, and all of a sudden, she was getting huge laughs."
Carter had one big complication on this show: With just a couple weeks left before opening night, he had to replace the actor in the lead role of John Smith, fiddling with the delicate comedic balance he had been brewing in rehearsals.
"Most times, that would be really difficult to come back from," Carter says. "But we have Bob Singleton."
With Run, Singleton has been involved in every Studio production this year, starring in True West, directing Wait Until Dark and now starring in Run for Your Wife.
"He had most of his lines down in 48 hours," Carter says. "And he was crafting the comic moments perfectly, knowing how to hit a line perfectly to make it work or give something to another actor so they have their moment."