Does one have to be miserable to be funny? "Misery Loves Comedy," an amusing and enlightening documentary directed by Kevin Pollak, explores that question. Although the director never appears on screen, we hear him asking variations of that question to over 50 famous funny people including some of my favorites like Tom Hanks, Lisa Kudrow, Richard Lewis, Larry David, Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Fallon, Martin Short, Christopher Guest, Jemaine Clement, Steve Coogan, Janeane Garafalo, Jon Favreau, Matthew Perry and Andy Richter.
During the course of these short interviews, we gain more insight about why these people have chosen comedy as a profession, how their parents influenced them, why they crave attention, how getting laughs became addictive for them, and how they handle failure to make an audience laugh. Because so many people are interviewed and the camera jumps back and forth with each one several times, the documentary sometimes lacks coherence. Still, it’s fascinating to hear top level comedians, actors, directors and writers be honest about their insecurities and fears concerning their work.
requires some pain.
But laughter seems
to make pain wane.
Funny folks help
us laugh at cares.
They take great risks
with all their shares.
Find out what makes
these funsters tick
and why they each
have their own shtick.
For tales of woe
turned into gold,
check out this film
with comics bold.
After seeing Misery Loves Company, I have a greater admiration for the courage of anyone who goes into this field. The old saying that “dying is easy; comedy is hard” may be true after all. Pollak fittingly dedicates his documentary to the great Robin Williams.
If you are a wannabe comedian or just adore comedy, this film is for you. You also might enjoy these other movies dealing with the subject: Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show; Comedians; Goodbye, Baby; and Punchline. All four films go deeper into what it means to be a comedian, the persistence required for success and obstacles that must be overcome.
There’s a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. --- Erma Bombeck
Comedy has to be based on truth. Just tell the truth and put a little curlicue at the end. --- Sid Caesar
(Released by Tribeca Films; not rated by MPAA. WARNING: Lots of strong language throughout.)
Review also posted at ReelTalk Movie Reviews.