Monday, November 21, 2005

The Comedians of Comedy


Dir: Michael Bleiden (first film)

Disappointing documentary following stand-ups Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn and Zach Galfianakis as they go on tour. All of these are performers are, in my mind, extremely gifted. The talent in the film had me expecting a very interesting examination of comedic craft or life on the road, or anything. The documentary suffers greatly by the lack of talent of the film maker and the low production quality.

Bleiden apparently entered with the theory that his subjects were so funny that you could just leave the camera running and the comedy would be unstoppable. Editing? You can't tamper with genius! Asking questions of your subjects that are heuristic, or at least not filled with stumbles and awkward pauses? As the lowly interviewer, I cannot bring anything to the table! Any insights in the movie are purely accidental, and are lost within (for example) ten minutes of footage of the subjects shopping for comic books. Not that we got to see that riveting scene, mind you; the store owner kicked the cameras out and Bleiden left the scene in the movie, just giving us the audio. Comic book shopping, not funny shopping, just shopping!

This could have been a good idea if there was enough footage to sift through and cull out 80 funny minutes. But the whole thing was filmed in four day, apparently. Not even these great comedians do enough funny things driving to a gig or eating dinner to make a good documentary in that time. Trying to do this with that few resources being deployed is silly.

The stand up bits are not bad, if too brief to be representative of the performers' talents. A few scripted skits are passible. But this movie is like giving The Last Waltz to Michael Bay; talent on stage, but none behind the camera.

Apparently this documentary was pitched to Comedy Central and it is now an Insomniac style reality show. Watch at your own risk.