Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Carl Reiner, it centers on the journey of young aspiring actor David Kolowitz as he tries to extricate himself from overly protective parents (who want him to be a married pharmacist) and two too many girlfriends, while struggling to meet the challenge of a dearth of talent in 1930s New York City.
After two previews, the Broadway production, directed by Gene Saks, opened on March 13, 1963 at Henry Miller's Theatre, where it ran for 419 performances. The cast included Alan Arkin, Vivian Blaine, Sylvia Sidney, Michael J. Pollard, and Alan Mowbray.
Arkin won both the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play and the Theatre World Award for his performance.
Reiner wrote the screenplay for and directed a 1967 film version starring Reni Santoni, José Ferrer, Shelley Winters, Elaine May, Jack Gilford, Janet Margolin, Don Rickles, David Opatoshu, and Michael J. Pollard. Santoni appeared in Kolowitz role, but it did not prove to be as much of a career springboard.
The play served as the basis for the ill-fated 1976 musical So Long, 174th Street.
Enter Laughing was revived as a musical in 2008 as an off-Broadway production starring Josh Grisetti for a limited run. The New York Times praised the revival as "hilarious." Like Arkin in 1963, Grisetti won the 2009 Theatre World Award for his performance.