One You Might've Missed #09: Comedian


by: Brad Sturdivant

Finding diamonds in the rough is a wonderful feeling, but in order to do so, you usually have to watch a lot of bad movies. takes the pain away by recommending a movie that you may have never heard of, or missed when it first came out.

In 1998, coinciding with the last season of his hit show, Jerry Seinfeld went on Broadway and did his famous “I’m Telling You For the Last Time” standup comedy performance. It was truly the last time he was doing those jokes and he retired all of them in what is still one of the best comedy performances of all time. But after achieving that much success, where do you go from there? 2002’s COMEDIAN answers that very question as it follows Jerry Seinfeld and new comic Greg Giraldo traveling around different comedy clubs testing out new material.

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One thing you should know right away is that Giraldo is a jerk. He’s overly cocky, unlikeable and unfunny to boot. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the film, but it doesn’t take too much away from it. In some regards, he serves as a nice contrast to the professional and humble attitude of Mr. Seinfeld. Besides, the film really isn’t about either of them, it’s a more general look at the world of a comedian and how hard it is to perfect a standup comedy act. We see the highs and lows of doing standup comedy combined with the pressure a spotlight and hundreds of eyes can have on a performer.

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Standup comedy is probably the hardest of the entertainment professions and making 100’s of people laugh consistently for 45 minutes seems like an impossible task. I’ve always been a big fan of standup comedy, but until I saw this film, I had no idea how hard it was to perfect a routine. We see some of the greatest comics of our generation completely bomb on stage. Even Seinfeld himself forgets a joke right in the middle of a routine. Watching it on screen, you feel awkward and uncomfortable while Jerry stands in the spotlight, completely frozen. Luckily, one astute audience members yells out “is this your first time?” and everyone busts out laughing, including Jerry.

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Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t all flubs and uncomfortable moments. You see some quality comedy in here. But the real joy was watching Jerry, Chris Rock, Jay Leno and some other comedians sit around and discuss various topics. It’s a candid and revealing look at the world of being a professional comedian. There’s no hidden message or ulterior motive to the filmmaking. This isn’t Jerry trying to sell a CD or a new TV show. There’s nothing polished in this film; it’s just an open, honest look at two guys trying to be funny.

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This film actually inspired me to plan out a New York City tour of comedy clubs. It takes a week to go through and by the end of the trip, you’ll be ready to sleep for another week. But the idea is that you get to witness comics of all races, ages and abilities try their hardest to make you laugh. COMEDIAN is a glimpse into that world and the next best thing to going to NYC and watching it for yourself.

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