The Comedian

July 16th, 2021

The Comedian1 asks for a lot of credit upfront, as for instance in the unspecificity of the title, or the conceptual "has been" television personality that nevertheless never was; in the same way it's incredulous that I'm apparently typing out a2 Trilema-style film review, it's incredulous this gang of movie graybeards attempts to pass off its in-the-biz buddy-buddy elbowing in 2020s shitpaper as authentic.

Believe, it asks, in marginal motifs, in the sacred love between cellared New York comedy clubs and sixties Chicago jazz. Believe that the craft in the hands of the crafter never dies, believe that honesty is still valued not to mention noticed among the herds, believe nobody really buys into the old boys institution, believe. You could, too, were it not shoved down the throat in fits of anachronism to make the whole thing more palatable to modern audiences. Part of that force feeding is the cuckification of every potential male character in the film: the lead's quite literally removed from his own procreation, Keitel's stunted tough guy's all threat and no follow-through3, even the president of the erstwhile friar club's revealed to be a bit of man-gauze thrown over a sad display of stolen jokes and self-doubt.

And then, well...then there's Leslie Mann's borderline sleeve, which would come across as an excellent rendition of that particular psychological presentation if it weren't the case that's all the woman ever portrays, but exactly. An entitled, unassailable foil for the incompetent man: the incompetent woman who'll just do things anyway, the process making her more pretentious instead of more reflective and humble, as it would in any sane head.

Toss this salad with another pass of Devito shoeing his lookalike daughter into the cast for no apparent reason, a smattering of (real! hardworking! believe!!1!) stand-ups that safely covers every single stand-up cliche in the book4, and --actually no, that about covers it.

We watched this thing with a bottle of wine while attempting to somehow take something like a break from the harem's constant screaming, crying, attempting to focus, pulling of hairs, &c, which is perhaps too much to ask of any film the harem can stand to watch right now (if it's not transparent, I mean: bad ones, or at least, ones that hadn't yet made it to the good list, or the so bad it's good list, or in any case would just immediately plunge us into the memory of the last time we watched it with Master and...). So it goes with The Comedian, though I suspect it'd fare little better in a previous, still functioning, still breathable, world.

  1. 2016, by Taylor Hackford, with Robert De Niro, Danny Devito, Harvey Keitel, Leslie Mann. []
  2. Aspirantly. Aspiringly? []
  3. He's got a Vin Diesel clone in tow to make sure the lock stays on nice and snugly. []
  4. Asian guy: "So my parents are from Taiwan, they immigrated to Texas before I was born. I think immigration is incredible, I mean, the notion of moving to an entirely foreign country so that your kid has better opportunities, and then your kid becomes a stand-up comedian." The gay guy does stupid neck pantomimes, the black guy does a flat white cop impersonation, the jewish woman harps on older jewish women...the predictability is about on the level of elementary school fire drills, otherwise notated as the furthest possible distance from comedy. []

2 Responses to “The Comedian”

  1. PassingThrough says:

    These thin strands of time, reality, fiction and narrative interwind mercilessly into quantum links giving birth to the blockchain of life, be it Comedy or Divine Comedy. Bit by Bit.

Leave a Reply