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HTF REVIEW: "Comedian" (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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Comedian





Studio: Miramax
Year: 2002
Rated: R
Film Length: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Subtitles: English




A film about comedy with Jerry Seinfeld


There's a point in Comedian where during
a David Letterman show appearance, comic Jerry
Seinfeld turns to a giddy audience and quirps,
“People ask me what I have been doing ...the
answer is “absolutely nothing.” Well, though that
is what Mr. Seinfeld would like to lead you to
believe, the fact of the matter is that the comic
has gone back to his roots – standup comedy.



Filmed over the course of a year by director
Christian Charles and producer Gary Streiner,
Comedian shows America's most successful
comic returning to the nightclub stages of New
York and Washinton D.C. where every night brings
a certain amount of uncertainty. Shrouded in
endless, often agonizing, self-doubt we watch
the veteran comic up on stage where he is agonizing
over new material and doing new bits. Every night
brings new fears of going onstage with unheard
material. Between gigs, Jerry spends the in-between
time talking shop with such comic luminaries as
Chris Rock, Colin Quinn, Bill Cosby, Robert Klein
and Jay Leno.



This film also follows comic Orny Adams, a newcomer
to the comic scene. Extremely confident to the point
of almost being arrogant, he's a very unwelcome
presence here -- a modern-day Rupert Pupkin who
is obsessed with getting his big break –- one that
would bestow on him fame and fortune. We watch
Orny gain the support of agent George Shapiro and
land a gig on the "Late Night with David Letterman,"
but we're never convinced he's got the talent to make
it in this business. It's as if Orny was purposely
thrown in this mix to give a strong contrast to
Jerry's well-liked persona.

Director Christian Charles has given us quite an
interesting look at the life of a stand-up comedian,
gluing together action from on stage to back stage to
off stage. Though the film offers a rare peek at
the evolution of a comedy as stand up, I was a bit
let down by the fact that we never get to see more
than little bits and pieces of any act. Therefor,
the laughs are kept at a minimum and the picture
somehow feels incomplete.


How is the transfer?


This is going to be a tough sell. First, it is
important to know that director Christian Charles
and crew used two "store-bought" video cameras to
follow Seinfeld and Adams around for a year's time.
What you are watching on screen is raw, unrefined
video footage that looks like some of the stuff
you probably shot on your camcorder during your
last vacation. To top this off, because this is
videotape, the film's presentation is in a
Full-Frame ratio. All of this is intentional,
and once you realize such, it's easy to forgive
the presentation quality.



The film's 5.1 soundtrack sports a highly energetic
jazz infused soundtrack, mixed with popular tunes
by the likes of Al Greene and Steeley Dan. The
film's musical tracks forcefully blare through the
front channels often extending into the rears. In
a normal film, one would welcome this enveloping
musical experience. However, the music is so loud
that it tends to drown out the vocals in the center
channel.


Special Features



We begin with two full-length commentaries.
The first is with director Christian Charles and
producer Gary Streiner. The one that I sampled
features Jerry Seinfeld and Colin Quinn. The
commentary isn't as wild as one would expect,
but there are plenty of laughs here. In addition
to mocking on what is happening on screen, they
talk about (among other things) the smell of show
business, comedy being technology-proof, and the
realities of what it takes to succeed in stand-up.
The reason this commentary is so genuinely funny
is that you have two pros like Seinfeld and Quinn
constantly playing off one another. Even if you
don't watch this film a second time for the
commentary, play it in the background while you
are sitting at your computer. Good stuff!

There are five deleted scenes presented here.
Highlights include: Jerry in front of what he calls
a "pompous crowd" at a fund raiser event; Jerry
finding himself amongst the "social inept" as he
mingles around a Porsche meet. Another segment
shows Orny Adams in the moving truck readying to
move out to L.A. If played together, these scenes
total just under 13 minutes. They can also be
played with optional commentary director Christian
Charles and producer Gary Streiner.



An entire area dedicated to advertising
gives us the film's original theatrical trailer,
several radio spots and my personal favorite,
some very funny TV Commercials featuring
Jerry Seinfeld. Want more? Okay, how about some
photos of the various poster designs for the
film, and lastly (I had to post a picture so you
could believe it yourself) a collection of famous
comic action Figures



I love this guy! Who do I love? Jiminy Glick.
Here are two show segments featuring the chubby and
chummy Hollywood insider as he interviews Jerry
Seinfeld (7:07) and Orny Adams (6:37). Honestly,
these segments are funnier than the entire film
and certainly worth the effort of renting this DVD.
Don't miss this!



Also warmly welcomed on this DVD is the inclusion
of Jerry and Orny's separate David Letterman Show
appearances.

Where is Orny now? has a sort of happy
ending for the performer who is now living in Los
Angeles. After all the fame this young comedian
had sought, it seems he sort of learned the hard
way that perhaps making deals with major studios
is not in his best interest.
(length: approx. 2.5 minutes)

Anatomy of a Joke gives us one-sheet samples
of handwritten mess from Seinfeld, Adams and Quinn.
Even on a small computer monitor, it was hard to
read its contents.


Final Thoughts


It sounds like a great idea to follow the likes
of Jerry Seinfeld around for a year or more and
capture the methodology of a stand-up comic. While
Comedian becomes a very interesting watch, I
really wish it contained more stand-up.

Anyone who is a fan or Seinfeld, or just curious
into peeking inside the life of comedians should
take the opportunity to rent this film.


Release Date: May 13, 2003


All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality
 

Scott_J

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Scott
Thanks for the review, Ron. I'm a big Seinfeld fan and never got a chance to see this theatrically. Looks like it's a nice package of extras that's been put together. Really looking forward to this release now.

Wonder if those action figures are for sale anywhere. :)
 

Brandon Conway

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I liked this doc enough when I saw it last Fall (I thought the making of a stand up routine aspect was fascinating) that I'll eventually pick it up. Sounds like the extras are pretty good, too.

Thanks Ron. :)
 

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