Funny People (2009) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • When seasoned comedian George Simmons learns of his terminal, inoperable health condition, his desire to form a genuine friendship causes him to take a relatively green performer under his wing as his opening act.

  • George is a very successful stand up comedian who learns that he has an untreatable blood disorder and is given less than a year to live. Ira is a struggling up-and-coming stand up comedian who works at a deli and has yet to figure out his onstage persona. One night, these two perform at the same club and George takes notice of Ira. George hires Ira to be his semi-personal assistant as well as his friend.

  • George Simmons, who started his performing career as a stand-up comic, is a movie star, generally of high concept lowbrow movies. His movie star status affords him many privileges in life, such as all the indiscriminate sex he wants, which is a lot, although he would admit that he leads a lonely life in not having what he considers true close friends. He has just been diagnosed as having a rare form of leukemia, which his doctors want to try to treat with experimental therapy. He decides not to divulge the news of his illness to the public. Reflecting on his life because of the diagnosis, George decides to go back to his roots of performing stand-up at comedy clubs. It is at one of those impromptu comedy club appearances that he meets Ira Wright, a struggling comic. Ira isn't adept as a stand-up comic, largely as he doesn't know how to deliver the material with impact. He is not averse to doing whatever to get laughs at his shows, from paying friends and acquaintances to be audience plants, to stealing material. He has a "woe is me" attitude about his lack of success and his need to make money as a clerk at a supermarket deli counter. Regardless of quitting that job, he sleeps on the pull-out sofa of his friend, Mark Taylor Jackson, who has a modicum of fame starring in "Yo Teach", a second rate sitcom albeit airing on network TV. Another interloper in Mark's apartment is their mutual friend, Leo Koenig, a fellow stand-up with slightly better comic instincts than Ira. It is only out of circumstance that it is Ira who George chooses first to write him some material, then second to work as his personal assistant, that latter job largely as his friend for hire, which Ira gladly accepts as a way both for a glimpse into fame and into comic success. George also contemplates reconnecting with his old girlfriend, former actress Laura, the one he believes got away, their break-up twelve years ago because of his infidelity. Laura is now married to Clarke, an Aussie businessman who is often away on business in China, they who have two adolescent daughters. George eventually learns that Laura is unhappy in her marriage, in part because of Clarke's absences and what she believes is also his infidelity. George and Laura do reconnect as she finds out about his dire diagnosis. George's relationship with both Laura and Ira may be affected by the ups and downs in his life prognosis.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is an extremely successful comedian and actor. But he is very self-absorbed, lonely and estranged from his family by choice. He is subsequently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and is informed that traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation would be unlikely to benefit him, so he embarks on an experimental treatment with an 8% chance of response. Consequently, he falls into a depression and upon seeing old tapes of his standup days, he decides to return to his roots and do stand-up comedy.

    Ira Weiner (Seth Rogen) is an aspiring stand-up comedian who dreams of quitting his day job. George and Ira meet at a comedy club, where George unexpectedly takes the stage to deliver a dark routine. Ira is forced to follow and draws some laughs by mocking George's morbidity as he watches from the back. George calls Ira the next morning asking him to write jokes for him to perform at a MySpace corporate event.

    The event goes well and George hires Ira as an assistant. George informs Ira of his condition and Ira cares for George through the treatment. Eventually, Ira breaks down, begging George to tell people about his prognosis. While in the process of telling his friends, George is visited by his ex-fiancée, Laura (Leslie Mann). She is married to Clarke, who is cheating on her while away on business. She regrets leaving George and they reconcile.

    George sees his doctor and learns that the medicine has worked; he has no traces of the disease, but it could resurface. Ira is happy but George is unsure what to do with his life. He decides he wants a long-term relationship and calls Laura, but does not tell her the news. George and Ira go to San Francisco to perform; Laura meets them there. George makes Ira tell Laura during intermission that he is better. George later explains that he didn't want to jinx it. They embrace and she invites George and Ira to her house in Northern California.

    George and Ira spend time with his and her daughters. George and Laura sneak into the guest house, and George performs cunnilingus on her. Ira tells both daughters that George is healthy now. Clarke unexpectedly arrives home; Laura asks George and Ira to keep up the façade of George still being sick.

    In the morning, Clarke gives George a tearful goodbye. His daughters reveal that George is actually healthy. Clarke confronts Laura and suspects she is cheating. Laura tries to explain that George may not be entirely better and calls Clarke out on his infidelity so Clarke drives off. Laura decides to leave him. Ira thinks George should leave because it is not worth it to ruin a twelve-year marriage, but George threatens to fire him.

    The next day, George, Ira, and Laura watch video of her daughter Mable performing a song. Ira and Laura find the performance moving, but George thinks it's hilarious and offends Laura. Laura leaves for the airport to tell Clarke she is leaving him. Ira lies to George and follows her. Clarke tells Laura that he wants to give their marriage another try. Laura agrees and says her fling with George was just a flirtation. Ira gets caught by Clarke trying to sneak away. Laura is forced to tell Clarke she slept with George.

    Clarke chases George out of his house, throwing fists at him. George asks Laura to explain but she sides with her husband. Heading back to Los Angeles, George berates Ira for his betrayal and fires him. Ira fires back at George for not learning from his experience and that his insensitivity hasn't changed.

    Ira goes back to his old job. George attends Ira's stand-up and watches him being much more confident on stage. The next day, George finds Ira at work and admits that even though he is no longer sick, his attitude needs improvement. George offers Ira jokes he wrote down, proving he is making an attempt to become a better person.

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