Misery Loves Comedy
Directed by Kevin Pollak
Over fifty very famous American and Canadian funny people (filmmakers, writers, actors and comedians) share life and professional journeys and insights, in an effort to shed light on the thesis: Do you have to be miserable to be funny?
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★★★★ review by Craig Duffy on Letterboxd
Solid doc about what drives people to perform. Cannot believe they got Freddie Prinz Jr. to discuss his father's suicide so candidly. Worth the price of admission alone. Lots of other great interview subjects as well.
★★★½ review by Podcasting's Brock on Letterboxd
Another talking head documentary, this time on what drives comedians to do what they do. I do enjoy hearing comedians talking about their craft, though nothing groundbreaking is actually said here. Some absolutely amazing anecdotes, though, most of which I hadn't heard before.
While the roster of comedians, and comedic actors, is impressive, there are some key big names who did not take part.
I was interested throughout, they kept it moving, it didn't overstay it's welcome, nor thankfully did they stay with one comedian too long.
Recommend, especially for the comedy nerds out there.
★★★½ review by Matt Wooldridge on Letterboxd
Kevin Pollak reels in a lot of comedians (feels like everyone except for Louis C.K. and Seinfeld) in his search to get to the bottom of why they all share such a dark side. There's a lot of fun stuff here, but Pollak never lets the film breathe. I wish he narrated or even put himself in front of the camera, because there's something he's trying to say here that would have hit home more effectively if he had just come out and said it. Instead, this feels like a very casual affair, which is kind of odd considering the attempt to dig deeper. Having said that, there are still some poignant moments scattered throughout.
★★★½ review by Stephen Miller on Letterboxd
Managed to catch a screening of this at SF Sketchfest. In the Q&A afterwards, an audience member told Kevin Pollak that he was considering making a documentary and wanted advice on planning a story -- Pollak replied that he just filmed as much as he could, and the story came later.
That advice probably doesn't generalize, but when your friends include Tom Hanks, Jason Alexander, Larry David, Jason Reitman, Dana Gould, half the cast of Friends, and virtually the entire alt comedy scene, there are a helluva lot worse ways to make a film. Though the process does show: the movie is less a honed examination of its central question ("Do you have to be miserable to be funny?") than a series of conversations somewhere vaguely in its orbit. Fans of WTF or You Made It Weird should feel right at home with this territory: comedians talking about comedy, sometimes with shocking insight and sometimes eye-roll-worthy indulgence.
What elevates this above something like Bonnie McFarlane's Women Aren't Funny or a 2 hour episode of Maron, is the sheer diversity of opinions present. Stephen Merchant remembers idolizing Steve Coogan, who remembers ripping off Christopher Guest, who remembers bombing on stage in Canada. Marc Maron thinks comedy is a way to give voice to pain; Scott Aukerman sees utter silliness as a relief from the pain we already bring to the table. Despite admirable attempts to whittle it down to a point, the film is (in a sense) a mess. But amidst the pile of fun anecdotes, personal recollection, armchair philosophizing, and crude jokes is an unshakable sense of community, preserved in a time-capsule. And though you've probably heard them wax poetic about their idols (Williams, Martin, Carlin, Letterman, Pryor, Bruce, Sahl) a thousand times, it's hard not to be swept up in their nostalgia. It's like a late-night bar conversation with an old friend: you both realize it's not as meaningful as you think it is, but have no desire to see it end. Pour another glass, tell me that story about meeting Johnny Carson, then let's hash it out for real: do you have to be miserable...
★★★½ review by Chloe on Letterboxd
By its very nature it was always going to be a mixed bag, and it's not at all cinematic but it is interesting and often very funny.
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