Dir: Kevin Pollack (2015)
Kevin Pollack‘s extensive talking heads doc tries to get down and dirty with the infamous struggle of the stand up comic but ends up being a parade of famous faces and sound bites; Although the film is incredibly funny, the actor/director/comics questions are calmly directed sequentially to nearly 50 famous faces and the subsectioned Misery Loves Comedy fails to answer many of the questions posed with any real insight. Most importantly “do you need to be miserable to be funny?”
The documentary is packed to the gills; Judd Apatow, Maria Bamford, Lewis Black, James L. Brooks, Bobby Cannavale, Jemaine Clement, Steve Coogan, Larry David, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Favreau, Christopher Guest, Tom Hanks, Jim Jefferies, Lisa Kudrow, Richard Lewis, Marc Maron, Stephen Merchant, Matthew Perry, Jason Reitman, Sam Rockwell, Bob Saget, Amy Schumer, Martin Short, Robert Smigel and Kevin Smith all have a crack at what the struggle is within this chiefly self involved career. There are some real online line pearls in amongst it all but it never really makes for a coherent touring show, more like a loose 15 minutes in the back room of a club.
The great American statistic that the nation’s number one fear after death is public speaking punctuates the whole picture; What kind of person would chase a career in it? The narcissistic success stories, the sadness and the jealousy all come to the surface somewhere along the line with Freddie Prinze Jr. coming out beautifully, talking candidly about his life and the suicide of his father; But there is far too little of the most eloquent and interesting people on show including the always wonderful Marc Maron who get closest to answering Pollack’s big question.