HTF REVIEW: "Comedian" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 23, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein


    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

    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

    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
  2. Scott_J

    Scott_J Cinematographer

    Jul 17, 2000
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    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. [​IMG]
  3. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

    Sep 30, 2002
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    North Hollywood, CA
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    Brandon Conway
    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. [​IMG]
  4. Lucho Cohaila

    Nov 24, 2002
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    one question Ron, this edition has or doesn´t have Spanish subtitles?

    Thanks for your answers...... [​IMG]
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Subtitles are ENGLISH only.
  6. Lucho Cohaila

    Nov 24, 2002
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    ok, thanks for the information Ron....... [​IMG] [​IMG]

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