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It Started as a Joke (2019)

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A look at the decade-long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in Brooklyn, the alternative comedy scene in New York, and Eugene's personal life.
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Cast

Credited cast:
Michael Ian Black ... Self
Wyatt Cenac ... Self
Jo Firestone ... Self
Jon Glaser ... Self
Ira Glass ... Self
Bobcat Goldthwait ... Self
John Hodgman ... Self
Eugene Mirman ... Self
Aparna Nancherla ... Self
Kumail Nanjiani ... Self
Kristen Schaal ... Self
Michael Showalter ... Self
Reggie Watts ... Self
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Storyline

IT STARTED AS A JOKE is a feature documentary that chronicles the decade-long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival - including a final farewell show. The film celebrates Eugene's unique brand of humor and his role in the alternative comedy movement, offers a bittersweet goodbye to an era, and reminds us of the healing properties of comedy - even in the most challenging of life's circumstances. The film includes interviews with MICHAEL IAN BLACK, KRISTEN SCHAAL, WYATT CENAC, IRA GLASS, JOHN HODGMAN, KUMAIL NANJIANI, REGGIE WATTS and MICHAEL SHOWALTER, along with performances by JANEANE GAROFALO, JIM GAFFIGAN, JON GLASER, MIKE BIRBIGLIA, BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT and more.

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alternative | See All (1) »

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Documentary

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knock, knock, a real life comedy-drama
2 April 2020 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Have you heard the one about the comedy festival poking fun at comedy festivals? Of course not. And you may not even be familiar with comedian Eugene Mirman. But the efforts of co-directors Julie Smith Clem and Ken Druckerman ensure that by the end of their documentary, we understand the impact of Eugene Mirman's Comedy Festival (founded to parody comedy festivals).

So who is Eugene Mirman? He's one of the key players in alternative comedy ... comedians who don't rely on traditional jokes, and often perform in places other than comedy clubs. If you ever watched the series "I'm Dying Up Here", you saw a comedian perform in the back of a local deli. That is an example of alternative comedy. When you check the lineup of comedians included here, it becomes even more obvious. Kristen Schaal, John Hodgman, Kumail Nanjiani, Janeane Garofola, Jim Gaffigan, Bobcat Goldthwaite, Mike Birbiglia, and Michael Showalter are just a few of the participants. Ms. Garofola embraces her "alternative" by labeling herself a terrible joke writer, and more of a "filibusterer."

Eugene Mirman is known for his voice acting ("Bob's Burgers" and "Archer"), as well as his appearances on TV series such as (the brilliant) "Flight of the Conchords." He married Set Director Katie Tharp and they had a son named Oliver. These personal details matter because Katie's cancer plays a part in Eugene's final year for the festival, and we get a glimpse of their home life, including time with Oliver. Their personal life is instrumental in elevating this from a Comedy Central special where comedians parade across the stage, to a real life drama that inspires a comical look at the parts of life that don't seem so funny on the surface.

A community of comedians is on full display here at The Bell House in Brooklyn. They recall the first time they met or saw Eugene perform, and recollect memories of the festival's past 10 years. Each of those festivals were presented with some off-the-wall theme - sometimes funny, sometimes poignant. H Jon Benjamin (lead voice in "Bob's Burgers") tells his story ... a pork chop story that was his introduction to Eugene. Silliness is ever-present, but the Eugene/Katie love story stands on its own - including the 'first kiss' photo that graced their wedding invitation. The festival may have begun as a joke, and comedians may shy away from dragging their personal life into the act, but it's clear "comedy is about connecting with people", and its value never diminishes.


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10 March 2019 (USA) See more »

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