Old 05-13-2003, 05:44 AM

Director: Christian Charles
Cast: Seinfeld, Orny Adams
R/2002/82 minutes.

Naturally I expect those energetic funnymen, of various styles and tastes, hogging the stages, filling their microphones with driblets of saliva, to possess the ability of expressing their humor…all the time. I thought, you know, their undeniable, sidesplitting comic talents were only a mere extension of their personality. But “Comedian” shows these comics preparing, vigorously developing their material; it took Jerry four months alone to come up with forty minutes of presentable material. We laugh, but really, what kind of work went into drawing those chuckles out? I suppose my perceived image of the improvising comic who can glide onto stage, venturing off on hilarious tangents, is only a myth, or so… it is an idea “Comedian” likes to lean towards…

Seinfeld has officially won me over as a loyal supporter. I admit never being one of the many watchers of his show; it never appealed to me. But seeing him in and out of the spotlight brings out his humble approach to the profession. Seinfeld is the “everyman” of comedy. Out of the limelight, he’s more melancholy and relaxed than during his show, or stand-up routines, where his withheld talent comes alive. Christian Charles captures much of that attitude, the quietness, the dead air…there’s a scene, lasting a few minutes, following Seinfeld before he performs an act. He’s either memorizing material, or staring into dead space, biding his time. A guy walks into the dressing room, tells Seinfeld that he goes onstage in a few minutes, followed by a small request to get a picture with him. Seinfeld calmly declines saying, “Not right now,” who is this guy? I expected some sort of overreaction—some Russell Crowe “I’m gonna bite your head off” bit—but he doesn’t do that. The ease is there, the professionalism, the courtesy, and the lack of confidence—which Seinfeld openly admits to having before a performance, especially when he isn’t sure whether the material will work or not, and he’s never really satisfied with himself. I can’t help but wonder: where’s the laughter? Where’s the fun? This is it.

Enter Orny Adams the rising star comedian whose arrogance seems to be his only talent. If Jay Leno and Wayne Newton had a kid together, they’d name him Orny; the black hair and pointy chin are dead giveaways. Adams devotes most of his screen time to unrestrained ramblings focusing on his career, thoughts on what its like to be a star (even though he isn’t one) and his desire to be famous. In one scene set in Toronto, he receives front-page coverage in a newspaper for an act he performed the night before, and even has the nerve to point the article out to a waitress. Later on, he notifies his audience that evening of the precedented event, and no one had even read the paper. But, despite his perceived fame, within minutes, he’ll be confessing to the camera his aching depression (how fame is too much to handle) that comes and goes like my girlfriend. I just want to scream at him, “Dude, you’re NOT funny.” And he persists on about it like we’re deaf; after awhile you just want to slap him, advising him to wake up; he’s taking his profession the wrong way. There’s a difference between not being satisfied with yourself and being depressed because “I want to be famous.” Call him the “obnoxious optimist,” if you will. But aside from Orny’s aggravating nature, he provides a fascinating contrast to the mature comic antics and personality of Jerry Seinfeld.

The world these comedians inhabit is worrisome, depressing, competitive, taking their confidence hostage. That’s their main problem, they’re never sure of themselves. The thought might cross their mind and they’ll think they’ve obtained that confidence for a brief moment, but really, the realization is, “oh, it’s just an illusion.” For talented men like these it’s still tough to make it big in comedy. Look at Jerry, he’s going on 25 years in the business; his sitcom came to the end of its run a few years ago, and once again, he’s gone back to stand-up. But you have to have talent (one thing Seinfeld has and Orny isn’t even close to having), or that spotlight is never going to shine on that chair,microphone, and water glass setup, glared at by the subdued, thirsty eyes, hidden behind the endless black barrier that separates the audience from the performer, who’s centered on that barren stage.

Last edited by Fergus; 05-13-2003 at 05:48 AM..
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Old 05-13-2003, 03:33 PM

Comedian is an intersting documentary and an interesting look inside the world of stand-up comedy featuring Jerry Seinfed one of modern day's great comics. It follows Jerry thrugh his stand-up routine after his show "Seinfeld" and the wild success and fame that came with it. It follows Jerry through the New York comedy clubs where he performed before his success and where he performs now. It shows him crafting is routine, his form, his confidence...as he works from 10 minute stand-up routines to doing full 1 hour sets on the road. The show also follows an up and coming young comic named Orny Adams...a young, talented, vibrant 29 year old but a man who is never happy, even as he gets an agent, appears on the front page of the paper and appears on the Late Show with David Letteman. This guy seems totally confident in his act and his comedy, but totally lacks confidence about how he will do in show business....he seems more concerned with celebrity than just doing what he loves. He gets some nice advice from Seinfeld early on in the film about why he is doing this in the first place. I'm a huge fan of "Seinfeld" I think it is the best show ever made and Jerry was the catalyst for the show...his humor is not about nothing...its about everything thats meaningless, everything you don't think about until someone like this points it out. I loved the way he talks about how after being away from stand-up for so long how difficult it is to get the audience and that confidence, it almost seems like he's just starting out again. Obviously for him it is a process...trying new jokes, honing his delivery, punch lines etc. and finding out what works and what doesn't. Obviously for him or any great craftsman it's like riding a bike. The fact that he is a star now made for some nice touches...when Jerry just flat out forgets the point of a joke/story some woman in the audience says "Is this your first gig?" This film also has some nice appearances from other comedians like Chris Rock, Gary Shandling, Jay Leno and Bill Cosby. Overall, Comedian is an intriguing look into the world of stand-up comedy both from the standpoint of an established star and someone trying to get his foot in the door.

Even if this is still not the show Seinfeld ...its enough Seinfeld to keep fans busy...I'll be buying the DVD soon.
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Old 05-16-2003, 03:17 PM
I love Orny Adams. He's such a douche bag. I love it when, in one scene, he's sitting by himself in a cafe and smiles and says out loud (and I kid you not) something to the effect of: "I wonder what people in L.A. (re: the suits) are saying about me at this moment."

My God! I'm shocked this guy hasn't been crushed by his massive ego already.

Also, love the scene where he had just done a comedy club that he was very proud of, then spent 15 minutes callign everyone he knew and telling them how great he was, and when he couldn't get a couple of people on the phone to brag, he got all pissed!
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