What do you say to a documentary that’s about Bugs Bunny? “Ehhh, what’s up doc?”
Yes I just made that up and yes it’s awful. But it was fun, wasn’t it? Don’t fool yourself: it was.
I found this story in the news this week and the concept really…intrigued me. I’m not so sure how well this doc will turn out.
Don’t let the cool graphics fool you, the idea of following three “regular” people as they try comedy for the first time is one of the worst ideas I’ve heard for a stand up documentary. Why? Well, they don’t know anything about comedy yet. Watch the Fox news video in the link, you’ll see: they talk to one of the “comics” featured in the doc. He is earth-shatteringly boring. No one even wants to hear me do or talk about comedy and I’m decently removed from that hatchling phase.
The only thing you could possibly do to make the doc interesting is also interview other people to talk about what starting comedy is like. You have two options when it comes to that: 1) comics, who will tell you “just do comedy and learn” and 2) professors who have never even tried stand up comedy who have done a lot of research on what’s “funny.” Since I’ve actually done academic humor research I can somewhat fairly say that humor research, although it sounds really interesting, is essentially worthless. Comics are right: you don’t know comedy unless you do it and an hour documentary of interviewed comics saying, “you just gotta go out and do it” and three new comics failing at open mics is not quite prime time material.
As a means of staying more positive (I’m not trying to put anything down), I actually do think it’s great that someone is making a documentary about stand up comedy, no matter what it’s about. There are some pretty decent documentaries on comedy out there, but honestly I’ve never seen one that I thought was “fantastic.” There are some mixed comedy special/documentaries that are pretty cool, but they aren’t quite the same. More filmmakers should be trying. Or comedic filmmakers should try, I think. Maybe the problem is that the comics aren’t really the ones trying to make a documentary.
One great thing that came out of this news story is that it reminded me documentaries on comedy exist and I should post about the better ones that are out there. So here’s to that happening in the future!
I just think the idea of following open mic comics as the premise of a “real” documentary is hilarious. And what kind of name is Morgen Earle? Who knows? It could be really good and I’m a jerk.