This documentary, directed by Kevin Pollak, consists of interviews with 56 stand-up comedians, comic actors, comedy directors, and comedy writers, all trying to answer the question: does comedy (especially stand-up) come out of angst and depression and misery. The consensus seems to be that since everybody on earth is depressed or angsty or miserable many times during their lives, and not everyone does stand-up, then no. On the other hand many feel that misery, or at least a feeling of being an outsider, is absolutely essential to creating comedy. That you take the depression and attack it with humor and therefore you live through it.
However, on the way to still ending up with no solution, you will laugh a lot. No lie.
For instance, Amy Schumer says, “I don’t think that in theory one has to be miserable to be funny. But I don’t know anyone close to me who’s not miserable.”
And David Koechner says, “You don’t have to be miserable, but there has to be something wrong with you.”
And my favorite moment, the thing that make me laugh loudest, was from Christopher Guest. He was telling about how he and Harry Shearer and Michael McKean did live shows of Spinal Tap for 30 years, and he said, “And we were doing a live show in Canada…..” He then stared at the interviewer with no expression and raised both eyebrows. For me, it killed.
To Canadian readers: please don’t take that too seriously (take it comedically). Guest said that they played to a totally silent crowd, but then he also said they were introduced in French, so is it possible no one understood that they were seeing anything but a concert?
This is a funny, funny movie with a serious question at its heart, that no one interviewed actually takes very seriously. But then, the serious story with the twist at the end – turning tragedy into a laugh – that IS comedy.