Friday, July 27, 2012

I Am Comic - A Review

I Am Comic
Release Date: 2010
Writer/Director: Jordan Brady

    Documentaries about stand-up comedy are becoming very common these days and I think it's because the topic is intriguing to even a casual fan of the art form. Anyone who has ever told a funny story to a group of friends and gotten a laugh has probably thought about trying it out on a real audience. That's where the fantasy ends for most people, as a brief thought. However for those who decide to try their hand at an "open mic" night at their local watering hole it can be an overwhelming experience.

    "I Am Comic" is documentary that sets out to define what "stand-up" comedy is and what it's like. Jordan Brady(a comedian of some note in his own right) assembles a list of comedians too long to mention to go over such topics as(and I am paraphrasing a little here) dealing with hecklers, the anatomy of a joke, going on the road, taboo subjects, earning money etc., 

    The comedians that Brady interviews all give very honest and real answers. This a rare glimpse into the mind of a comedian. There is very little self-promotion and only a few go for a laugh in their response. As an amateur comedian it is somewhat reassuring to see that even the people who are at the top of the industry have all paid their dues. In that regard this movie worked well.

    Where the movie shines though is with the sub-plot of comedian Ritch Shydner who, while helping Brady assemble the list of comedians to interview, gets the itch to go back on stage after a thirteen year retirement. Ritch is a comedian with whom you will instantly recognize and say "oh yea, I remember him" and watching him tackle his first open mic after such a long hiatus is as compelling as anything I've ever seen.

    Is this movie perfect? Not at all. Brady struggles at times balancing between his main topic which is as complex as any subject out there with his secondary story-line of following Ritch attempt to get his career going again. I found the latter to be the more intriguing of the two and I believe Brady did as well as the movie seems to shift focus and not as seamlessly as one would hope. To be fair it suffers from the fact that I have also seen Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedian" which is a far superior movie covering much of the same topics and in a much more concise way. In the end we get to see some of the top performing comedians give their insight into an industry and art form that has a relatively simple concept to grasp but nearly impossible to master and that alone makes this movie worth watching.

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