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Wednesday, July 16, 2003  

Hardest Workers in Showbiz
Watched "Comedian" last night, a documentary about Jerry Seinfeld 's return to stand-up and up-and-comer Orny Adams' rise in the business. I have always been fascinated by the craft of stand-up comedy, and the film did a good job of conveying the difficulties of that profession. I firmly believe that stand-up is one of the hardest jobs in the world, and the film reinforced that belief. The film was shot a few months into Seinfeld's return to the NY scene after retiring ALL of his material, and follows him as he makes drop-in appearances at tiny clubs to test out his new material, through his first "gigs," and finally the development and polishing of his new act. The film inter-cuts Jerry's return with the plight of Orny Adams. Orny has been working the clubs for 8 years and is impatient and feels his shot is long over-due. During the course of the film we actually see his "big break" in the form of a meeting with George Shapiro (the godfather of the NY comedy scene.) I was expecting to like Orny's story more than Jerry's, but was really put off by Orny's screen-persona. I'm not sure if he is that much of an egotistical ass, or if he was just hamming it up for the documentary crew, but it was pretty painful to watch. Comedian's are a notoriously neurotic bunch, but Orny adds a whole new level of social ineptitude. Jerry's segments end up being a lot more entertaining, and mostly it is because he is a better comedian. It also helps that the film features dozens of appearances by the elite of comedy. Everyone from Leno to Chris Rock to Bill Cosby make appearances and talk shop with Jerry back stage and in the mid-town haunts of the comedians. The movie itself isn't all that funny, it certainly had moments and good jokes, but it doesn't have the comedic pacing needed to sustain laughter over the run-time. But that was never the idea. The film exists to document the process of the stand-up comedian, and it does an admirable job. If you like stand-up and have any interest in what goes on "behind the scenes" and how stand-ups do what they do every night, rent Comedian.

posted by JMV | 7/16/2003 12:28:00 PM
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