Misery Loves Comedy is a quaint, quick look at an accumulation of comedians and their responses to some pressing questions in an industry which brings so much joy and insecurity. When I say an accumulation, it really is impressive how many comedians play a part in this documentary, each bringing their own experiences and opinions to the table. The film, dedicated to the late Robin Williams, certainly brings up some good points about the comedic link to misery/depression and how the job can really take a toll on the comedian.
Writer/Director Kevin Pollak never once graces us with his presence on camera, but he’s no stranger to the realm of comedy and you’re bound to know him from any of his bits in films like The Usual Suspects, Casino, or even Wayne’s World. Making his feature film debut, Pollak went the route of the documentary and chose a very timely project. His questions are all brilliantly written, analyzing each comedian and leaving them searching for a true and deep answer. Pollak finds a balance of humor and seriousness with his interviews, often getting each comedian to open up a bit and show some more vulnerability.
The untimely and far too soon passing of Robin Williams really left a dent in the comedy community, as he was one of the most well regarded comedians of all time. How could someone who brought so much joy, be so miserable? How does any of that make sense? Well, as many directors, writers, and actors tell us, misery does kind of love comedy. It’s a lot easier to laugh about something when you’ve got nothing. So long as you can make other people happy, perhaps you don’t really have to be totally happy, or at least that seemed like some of the sentiment in this film.
When you watch this film, it’s very easy to get caught up in all the funny people you’re watching. A good deal of time is spent with the following funny people: Judd Apatow, Amy Schumer, John Favreau, Freddie Prinze Jr., Jimmy Fallon, Bob Sagat, and Jim Jefferies. Every type of comedian is involved, discussing their parental influences and the worst they’ve ever bombed. They discuss the groups of friends that they have and get around to the belief that comedians have a special bond, unseen by the naked eye. They gravitate towards one another because they share the same gift and curse. It was interesting to hear so many of them admit their uncomfortableness around people who aren’t comedians.
What stuck with me the most were the brutally honest jokes which were funny, but also left you with a bad taste in your mouth. It’s funny to hear Jason Reitman joke about failed marriages and f**ked up children as a result of being a comedian, but there’s an unfortunate truth in that statement. Many of these comedians come from troubled backgrounds and have had their fair share of run ins with drugs. When you look close enough, misery does seem to be everywhere that laughter is. Many of the comedians discuss being attention seekers and getting paid to be the kid who never grow up. Is comedy really a career and who is it really for? My favorite comedian, Bo Burnham, is a performance artist who’s introspective comedy really emphasizes just how much comedy and misery intertwine. Watch this video and enjoy his balance of humor and honesty.
Misery Loves Comedy is so enjoyable to watch because it’s all your favorite funny people cracking jokes and opening up. It’s nice to see some of the comedians shed their thick coats and show us how the job really effects them. While it doesn’t totally solidify an answer, it’s easy to see that there is a link and it’s an unfortunate one. If anything, this film makes you laugh and causes you to look a little deeper at the comedy you enjoy. Personally, I think that the best comedies are the ones that acknowledge drama and take it seriously, much like this film did.
Misery Loves Comedy Trailer