Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jason Alexander, Judd Apatow, Maria Bamford, Lewis Black, James L. Brooks, Rob Brydon, Bobby Cannavale, Jemaine Clement, Steve Coogan, Larry David, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Favreau, Janeane Garofalo, Whoopi Goldberg, Christopher Guest, Tom Hanks, Chris Hardwick, Jim Jefferies, Penn Jillette, Lisa Kudrow, Richard Lewis, William H. Macy, Marc Maron, Stephen Merchant, Matthew Perry, Freddie Prinze Jr., Jason Reitman, Sam Rockwell, Bob Saget, Amy Schumer, Martin Short, Robert Smigel, Kevin Smith, Nick Swardson
Written by: Kevin Pollak
Directed by: Kevin Pollak
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 94
Date: 04/24/2015

Misery Loves Comedy (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Chuckles and Knuckles

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Misery Loves Comedy is probably not as funny as you might expect it to be.

Director Kevin Pollak interviews over sixty comedians, comedy writers, and comedy directors about their craft, and specifically the question of where their humor comes from. His main question is: do comedians need to be miserable to be funny? The interview subjects tell various stories, and seem to agree on several main points. Many were inspired by their fathers. They love attention. Getting laughs is addictive. Every comedian bombs at some point. And though misery may help certain comedians to be really funny, it's only necessary to have lived life and experienced human emotions. If a comic can convey truth to an audience, then he or she can get the biggest laughs of all.

These comedians are all off-duty and are not here to make jokes. They are here to be honest. The biggest question is: how much will regular audiences care about what they have to say? How will their innermost psyches and their need to make people laugh translate? Frankly, to enjoy this movie, it will probably help if you are a comedian, an aspiring comedian, or just someone that loves comedy.

Otherwise, casual viewers will find nothing more than a parade of talking heads. The sheer number of them will necessarily give short shrift to certain favorites, some of whom only appear for a minute or two (Mike Birbiglia, sadly, is one of them). Also, the number of interviewees dilutes whatever argument Pollak tries to make. Overall, though, the general openness and honesty of these folks makes them an appealing bunch, and worth spending time with.

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