Anthony's Film Review

Comedian (2002)

Jerry Seinfeld's documentary about stand-up comedy has potential but doesn't go far enough...

After ending his popular eponymous television sitcom in 1997, comedian Jerry Seinfeld did something that many would not expect. Rather than taking on a new project in television, he went back to his stand-up comedy roots. And it's not like he rehashed the good material that worked before. Instead, he decided to start completely fresh with new never-before-seen material. This is one of the subjects in the 2002 documentary film Comedian, which is supposed to give people an insight into what it's like to be a comedian.

I'll say this right now. To a certain extent, the film fulfills that purpose. There are enough illustrative moments to show that stand-up comedy is tough, so it would certainly be of interest to anyone who is a stand-up comedian, wants to be a stand-up comedian, or just likes the subject of stand-up comedy. But is it great? Far from it. Is it still worth seeing? Well, maybe if you're that interested in stand-up comedy, but for the general audience, I'm going to say no. Here's why.

First, the quality of the sound in this film is suboptimal. The whole thing is a collection of video clips all shot somewhat amateurishly with a camera that, I'm guessing, isn't a high-end model. It's one thing if the sound were improved and remastered in post-production so that people watching the film can easily overlook how the film was shot. Instead, there are plenty of times where it's a little hard to hear a comedian's jokes on stage or commentary when it's spoken in a noisy place like a bar. As for the visual aspect of the film, the picture quality is mostly fine, but I have an issue with the editing, because there are too many short camera shots and quick jumps from one shot to another, even if they were all shot in the same location.

On top of this, there doesn't seem to be something holding everything together. If there is a structure from beginning to end, it's flimsy at best. Basically, if you're expecting a film where the main characters go through a transformation and reach an exciting climax near the end, you'll be disappointed. You'll also feel the same way if you want this film to give you everything you need to know about being a comedian, because, at best, you only get a few glimpses. Just think of this documentary film as a quasi-random collection of home video clips shot while on a comedy tour.

But to be fair, I'll share with you a few interesting moments from this film. For example, Jerry Seinfeld does have some funny jokes to tell (like one comparing a colonoscopy to the paparazzi, because they are both invasive), as well as an awkward moment where he forgets the punchline of a joke and consults his notes left on a nearby barstool, only to still not remember what he is supposed to say next. Also, this film isn't entirely about Jerry Seinfeld, as it also follows a lesser known comedian named Orny Adams, who is so devoted to his craft that he has jokes written down on many sheets of paper stored in several file folders. Then there are a few brief appearances by other comedians, such as Ray Romano, Chris Rock, Jay Leno, and even the great Bill Cosby.

With that, my rating for Comedian is a 5/10. That means a marginally negative rating, based on the fact that there's a little stuff I liked but it's outweighed by the stuff I didn't like. Again, it's not a bad film if you really want to watch anything that is related to stand-up comedy. But for everyone else, it could be done a lot better.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Comedian, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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