6.3/10
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8 user 5 critic

When Stand Up Stood Out (2003)

R | | Documentary, Comedy
Documentary covering what came to be known as "The Boston Gold Rush" of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Boston stand-up comedians like Dennis Leary, Steven Wright and Colin Quinn burst... See full summary »

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Documentary covering what came to be known as "The Boston Gold Rush" of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Boston stand-up comedians like Dennis Leary, Steven Wright and Colin Quinn burst upon the national scene, giving audiences a taste of the hard-edged social and political commentary that came out of that city. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Rated R for language and some drug content
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Funny, interesting, insightful .... and sweaty.
16 August 2007 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

I enjoyed this film, finding the latter part of it quite accidentally one night while channel surfing. A few nights later I sat and watched it from the beginning and consistently enjoyed myself even if I didn't agree with the dark alleys some of the talent went through in their lives. Those dark alleys, though, make their survival today, their perseverance and the fact that some are putting up quality work, all the more interesting.

I laughed quite a bit and enjoyed seeing people in their beginning years before weight was gained and hair was lost. I did not recall or even consider that so many comic minds came from the Boston area. (I grew up in Attleboro, MA and went to college in Amherst from 78-82.) There are quite funny bits from all, notably Lenny Clarke and Steven Wright. There are also shocking moments like when Clarke tells a story of almost killing a fellow comic/club owner for short changing him on the night's take. There is also a comedian getting so frustrated with a heckler that he smashes his guitar on the heckler. I don't believe we've heard of that comedian since then. Come to think of it, probably not the heckler either. Not that he was drawing a lot of fans.

The film really gives you the feel of being in a smoky, sweaty, really sweaty club. Much of the archival footage is from video tape, some black and white. I get the feeling that it was as if these tapes were their "vaudeville" document. A short clip of Denis Leary has his long hair drenched with perspiration. While moments like this did not make me wish I was there, I certainly was glad that I got to see people working in the trenches as sometimes that is where some of the best work is born.

My one criticism had to do with how the film follows a timeline of sorts, beginning in '78 or thereabouts and traveling into the '80s. I felt clearly at one point the film refers to the mid-to-late eighties and then notes that the death of John Belushi (circa 1981) is what got some people to shape up (or not). Soon after that we see a clip from 1989. It just seemed like odd placement given the way the story that was being told (unless people were going into rehab for 6-8 years).

All in all, I'd recommend this film to anyone who has an interest in stand-up or particularly, in Boston comedians.


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