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Bitter Jester (2003)

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BITTER JESTER is the first documentary to give us a glimpse into the real process behind the comedy we watch in clubs, on television and at the movies. Through the eyes of comedienne Maija ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Maija Di Giorgio ...
Himself (As Kenneth R. Simmons) (as Kenneth R. Sim)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jody Del Giorno ...


BITTER JESTER is the first documentary to give us a glimpse into the real process behind the comedy we watch in clubs, on television and at the movies. Through the eyes of comedienne Maija DiGiorgio, we take a guided tour of the comedy business at its rawest. Behind the jokes and smiles, Maija reveals what really goes on in the minds of so many comedians. She allows us to witness a side of stand-up comedy we rarely see, from young comics unable to get stage time to comedy superstars musing on their own failures. Over the course of nearly two years, Maija documents her own roller coaster career in stand-up comedy and searches for the answers we all seek. This extraordinarily bizarre and entertaining journey takes her back and forth across the country several times as she seeks the insight and wisdom of fellow comics. Original, spontaneous and incredibly funny, BITTER JESTER is a unique glimpse into the soft underbelly of stand-up comedy and the personalities who inhabit it. It is a ... Written by ADAM GREENBAUM

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy, the tragedy.



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26 February 2003 (USA)  »

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Illuminating, if Uneven Tragicomedy
27 September 2004 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

Noteworthy for so many reasons, (not the least of which being a heartbreaking cameo from Richard Pryor,) Bitter Jester ostensibly delves into the highs and lows of struggling along the comedy circuit. Beautiful and outrageously talented Maija experiences a crisis of conscience

and seeks to find center again by making a documentary of (in roughly this

order) her youth, parents, rise on the comedy scene, implosion on said scene, psychotherapy, meeting her homicidal boyfriend, using his contacts to talk to other comedians about their experiences, feuding with Jerry Seinfeld, cross

country trips, her boyfriends potential gay lover, etc. Needless to say, it feels a bit scattered. But amidst the clutter, there is a beautiful film in here. If only the filmmakers had been able to polish and edit the material down and stick to the heart of the issue. The access they had to notable comedians (and comediennes) is staggering

and worth watching for that reason alone. And Maija's journey from shattered

ego to eventual rebirth is inspiring for any artist. It is mostly Ken Simmons that seems to derail this particular train, physically, emotionally, verbally. The man is a juggernaut, barreling through life like the minotaur. Admirable in its way, I mean, he is the reason we even get to see

Richard Pryor in all his decimated glory, but truly the film spends to much time dealing with him, his ego, and his exploits. Inspiring if a little flawed, Bitter Jester is a film you must see if you are an aspiring comedian, an artist, or just a caring, feeling human being.

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