Film review: 'Comedian' is gold, Seinfeld is golden

    Most people are familiar with the story of Jerry Seinfeld: Successful standup comedian gets his own show in 1990 … yada yada yada … it’s one of the most successful television shows of all time. However, no amount of previous success can prepare him for the daunting task of creating over 60 minutes of new material and venturing back to the small clubs that helped spawn his success.

    Director Christian Charles and producer Gary Streiner followed Seinfeld with hand-held cameras on his club tour for over a year, filming everything from performances, to heckling crowds, to conversations with friends and fellow comedians about the struggles and insecurities that come with doing standup comedy. It’s a long way from shrinkage and puffy shirts.

    Paralleling Seinfeld’s journey is that of Orny Adams, a cocky young comedian seemingly on the verge of both success and a nervous breakdown. It’s fascinating to see the young comic come down from the high of a successful gig to find that he is still unhappy, lying on the sidewalk and reflecting aloud to himself.

    Unfortunately, Adams’s insecurity and overbearing cockiness wears thin. He is obviously talented and on his way up in the entertainment world, but watching him snivel after every gig becomes tiresome. Even Seinfeld has to tell him to relax at one point in the movie (this is the same Jerry Seinfeld who included complaints about airport bathrooms in his previous act).

    As one of the most successful comedians of all time, Seinfeld’s insights are incisive and engaging. Coupling Seinfeld’s practical relation to the world of comedy with Adams’s inexperienced, spiraling emotional overdrive is what ultimately drives the film, however overtly this theme is presented.

    An abundance of cameos are also welcome, since they provide more points of view than the two subjects of the film can offer. Ranging from the established, such as Colin Quinn and Jay Leno, to the legendary, like Bill Cosby, each appearance helps drive home how far-reaching and laborious comedy is. A particularly refreshing anecdote comes from Chris Rock, who tells Seinfeld that a recent two-hour Cosby act he saw was the best comedy show he had ever attended.

    “”Comedian”” is successful because it manages to be funny and enlightening at the same time. More footage of the actual acts could have livened up some of the slower parts of the film, but overall, it’s definitely sponge-worthy.

    Comedian

    ***

    Starring Jerry Seinfeld and Orny Adams

    In theaters Nov. 1

    Rated R

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