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The Comedians of Comedy (2005)

Follow four comedians as they tour the States.


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Follow four comedians as they tour the States.

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12 March 2005 (USA)  »

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$500,000 (estimated)

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Did You Know?


Zach Galifianakis: I don't mean to be gross, but the only time it's ok to say, 'I have diarrhea,' is when you're playing Scrabble....... because it's worth a shitload of points.
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"I'm working on a new screenplay. It's called 'Schindler's List 2: Let's Get This Party Started!'"
14 August 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There's no grand arc to The Comedians of Comedy - about as close to a "passion project" for Patton Oswalt in 2005 as it can get (do I use quotes around that like as if that isn't serious, eh, no, sure, I'll use em) - but that's why it works in its way. It's a road movie following Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford and, in the kind of Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider I'm-just-gonna-steal-the-whole-show-now role, Zach Galifianakis for parts of it, and it all rests on their personalities. And of course being that they're in that interestingly odd time of their lives when they're known a little more than used to be (Posehn from Just Shoot Me, which I almost forgot about, and Oswalt I guess from King of Queens though that's only sparsely mentioned I imagine for obvious reasons), but not quite on the cusp of being the Alt-Comedy Gods that they are today.

Maybe 'Gods' is the wrong word, but these are four of the most recognizable and indelible figures of stand-up in the kind that *they* do. And yes there are different kinds of comedy when it comes to stand up; this is not The Kings of Comedy for example or the Blue Collar Kings of Comedy Tour movie or whatever it was called (one of the highlights here by the way is when Posehn jokes that he almost wanted to call their tour instead of 'Comedians of Comedy' the "Martin Luther Kings of Comedy" tour), and these four people exemplify the sort that's honest, personal, sometimes political (or maybe often times), awkward, very off-the-wall approach that made alternative comedy- or are there even walls, why bother especially when Galifianakis takes over a universe that happens to be set on a stage, or when Bamford does her gobsmackingly funny voice-work.

It also works much in the way of a home movie more than a documentary. Sure, there are some little moments of revelation and looking back, like when the four share some of their videos from when they were first starting out (and still very funny! Bamford with a violin expressing failed relationships and Posehn with hair describing drug-addled parents of the 60's), or when Posehn or Oswalt or Bamford talk about the weird disturbances and things at times when on stage (not so much hecklers as they are like these funny-wild anecdotes about things that have happened, like Oswalt being asked to step aside at the start of the show so a man can embarrassingly and miserably-in-failure propose marriage to his girlfriend). But the way the thing is shot, with multiple early 00's cameras, gives it the feel of, you know, being along for the ride with a bunch of people who are obviously close friends and can be goofy and ironic and make jokes that may work or may not always work. It's like seeing a family in front of your eyes, though there's no sense they don't get along or any tension, it's not that kind of revelatory package.

Perhaps a little *too* much goofing around once can say? But then they ARE comedians and it's like a big camping trip except their camping stops are comedy clubs and being on the road and stopping at places like motels and cabins and diners and comic book shops (oh the comic book shop bit is both very charming and a little, uh, showing the obsessive side in a way I didn't expect), and so when Galifianakis and Posehn do a somewhat graphic sexual prank video one night it's both hysterically funny and hysterically weird. But then, as I mentioned, Galifiankis, in his pre-Hangover time, is most impressive here and just seems to be naturally bug-f*** crazy some of the time (though in a moment of clarity he portends to want to be in "the most independent movie ever made" which one could say happened with Birdman, but I digress).

To say that he stands out is less about Oswalt-Posehn-Bamford being rather "normal" by comparison, as the two guys are just dorky-pun-talking-sex-joke-making dudes, with Bamford as the lovable weirdo (think like if Gonzo the Great was an alternative female comic with less stunt work), and more that he simply does the things that make him stand out the most. The highlight of the documentary for me is when he is walking around San Francisco one day - he has to do his laundry and, of course, though watching someone do their laundry sounds boring as watching grass grow, if you got to see someone do their laundry it might as well be this guy - and he comes across three black guys singing on a street in harmony. He's so taken with them (they may or may not be homeless by the way) that he asks them to come to do a bit during his comedy show. They do come on and it is so impressive even Zach stands by on the stage with the sort of dumbfounded-smiling expression a jokester-kid has who thinks "I really got em this time!"

Simply seeing these comedians perform their material, which makes up a good 35/40% of the movie anyway, would be enough to recommend it as they're all so wonderful, with Oswalt especially coming into his own in the way that still makes him among the top comedians in the world (no really, he's that good). That the rest of the footage of these guys, sometimes showing some simple pleasures like playing old-school video arcade or on a radio show doing their best to explain what they *do* is fun and genuinely a curious sight to see some ten years on, past any nostalgia and on its own as a chronicle of how comedians get along when they're in such a super-friendly unit where they can all just be... themselves, to the fullest.

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