Mark Your Calendars for 9/8 when “Too Soon: Comedy After 9/11” Premieres
Sept. 8th, 2021 will see the arrival of one of the best documentaries not only about comedy, but about the very DNA of jokes, the audiences hearing them amidst a historic tragedy, and the truly undeniably healing power of laughter.
Too Soon: Comedy After 9/11, co-directed by Nick Fituri Scown and Julie Seabaugh, has been long in the works aiming for a release nearing the 20 year anniversary of the events of September 11th, 2001. Even in the excerpt of their doc that recounted the story of The Onion having to put its first issue out after moving offices to NYC after 9/11, we were spellbound by the depth and scope of perspectives weaved together. The feature length Too Soon goes all over the place covering comedy in the days leading up to it, as it happened, and, of course, the fallout/the discovery of ways to joke about/laugh about one of America’s darkest days.
Interviews range from Gilbert Gottfried, who was lambasted for his 9/11 jokes being akin to the doc’s title, to Nathan Lane & Matthew Broderick, who were doing a run of The Producers on Broadway at the time, to Scott Thompson, who attempted a terrorist themed solo comedy show, to Jeff Ross, Laurie Kilmartin, Ian Edwards, and numerous other comedians and people in comedy.
When it comes to joking about the taboo, this doc really shows how much people just need and utilize humor to get through the darkness (not unlike the current and perpetual moment of COVID-19).
With that in mind, you might want to catch it Too Soon: Comedy After 9/11 on Sept 8th on ViceTV.
“Mentally Al” to Highlight Pioneering Comedian Al Lubel
If you religiously watched all the stand-up on late night in the hey day of Carson or the earlier years of Letterman, you might have come across a curiosity of a comedian and performer named Al Lubel. Also, maybe you went to one particular edition of Tomorrow! with Ron Lynch, LA’s midnight variety show institution and saw Al use every angle possible to get a laugh out of saying his name.
The character of one Al Lubel, even now with as strange and boundary pushing as comedy has gotten, still stands out and that is part and parcel to Al’s uncompromising, pioneering spirit in his comedy. That ethos is part of why a whole documentary, Mentally Al, has been made about him featuring interviews with the likes of Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Andy Kindler, and Kevin Nealon. The other reason is following him in his relative obscurity despite all his accolades.
If you want to trace the threads of what qualifies as alt/indie/weird comedy (even when it gets a little edgelord-y or “anti-comedy”), you might be very interested in this upcoming doc.
Get a taste of all of this for yourself in the trailer for Mentally Al here, then look out for its premiere on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Spectrum, Google Play, YouTube and more on Tues. Aug. 24th
Bill Cosby Documentary at Lionsgate Is Officially Dead (Though Another Doc Might Still Be in the Works)
Though disgraced, yet freed comedian/actor/former beloved father figure Bill Cosby has his sights set on gaining back some of the real estate of his massive career, he is thankfully being met with plenty of stern resistance. Cosby plans on taking the stage again and attempting to get former projects off the ground, but there are no current takers willing to give him a mic (at least, that we know of yet) and virtually everything he was working on before he took the stand years ago has vanished.
One of those projects was a documentary being put forth by Lionsgate, which has been killed by the studio, reportedly, as of this week. Since the U.S. legal system still contains so many loopholes that it can’t hold monsters like Cosby accountable (keep in mind, he was still found guilty, but got freed off of a technicality off of a deal regarding his own testimony), it is going to be on the public at large to get the job done.
With that said, there’s a separate docu-series from one Michelle Major on Cosby that is nearing completion, but, thus far, it hasn’t secured any guarantee of distribution anywhere. If it ever does find a place to be shown, we can only hope it gets buried like Louis C.K.’s “I Love You, Daddy”.
If we hold up our end of keeping Cosby accountable, perhaps that would spell out a better, safer future where celebrity would not be allowed to perpetuate systemic sexual violence no matter how revered they are.
Just a Friendly Reminder That Rory Scovel’s Daredevil-ish Stand-Up Special “Live Without Fear” Is Streaming on YouTube Now
We’ve written extensively about Rory Scovel‘s brand new docu-comedy special, Live Without Fear, that captured six performances where Rory went up for a whole hour without anything. No prepared material, no pre-configured crowd work, and even no suggestions from the audience. Scovel only had his instincts and his penchant for mischievous curiosity, which provided the lightning to be caught in the bottle by director Scott Moran.
It was one of the funniest things we saw in 2019 and now, it might be, with its official release and convenient streaming on YouTube, be one of the funniest things we were witness to in 2021. Please enjoy Live Without Fear here.
There’s a Whole Docu-Special on Dick Gregory That’s Coming Out on July 4th
In regards to comedy both being a bridge between worlds and speaking truth to power, the name Dick Gregory better be at the top of the list. Gregory was a comedy pioneer unlike any other, especially for all the barriers he broke down and how much irony and absurdity he pointed out in race relations and in the actions of the U.S. government. Also, you ought to know that’s just scratching the surface of what he did throughout his comedy career and his lifetime.
Thus, Showtime is giving Gregory his due with a docu-special The One and Only Dick Gregory and having it premiere on, of all days, the Fourth of July, which is fitting for how much truth he freely spoke in his comedy.
Get a taste of what’s to come with The One and Only Dick Gregory here, then look for it to premiere on Sun., July 4th at 9PM on Showtime.
“It Started As A Joke” Documentary About Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival Gets a Trailer and Apr. 3rd Release Date
As you quickly work through binging stuff you had been thinking about watching for weeks, months, years in these weird times, you undoubtedly will be looking forward to something entirely new to watch.
Unless you managed to catch It Started as a Joke at SXSW last year, there will be a never-before-seen insiders look into the decade long run of the beloved Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, helmed by, of course, the one and only Eugene Mirman. As far as comedy festivals go, that’s more than an impressive run and, in this doc, you’ll get to see exclusive interviews with Michael Ian Black, Kristen, Schaal, Wyatt Cenac, Ira Glass, John Hodgman, Kumail Nanjiani, Reggie Watts and Michael Showalter and performances by Daniel Kitson, Janeane Garofalo, Jim Gaffigan, Jon Glaser, Mike Birbiglia, Bobcat Goldthwait, and more.
You’ll only have to wait until April 3rd to stream on Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, FandangoNow, Sony, and Microsoft Xbox. You can pre-order It Started As A Joke via Apple right now.
Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up Trailer Dives Deep Into the Life of a Superstar Comedian
A documentary series following the life of a superstar comedian as it has happened in the very recent past and continuing on forward (as opposed to decades after their legacy has been sealed) might be without precedent.
That’s what’s so intriguing about Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up that follows Hart’s life at the top of comedy and being one of the most successful entertainers working today. The trailer shows that it doesn’t shy away from Hart’s controversies with his infidelity and the Oscars hosting debacle.
In fact, it seems they are the focal points of the doc coupled with his recounting his rise to the top. There are docs like this for big time musicians to be sure, but it’ll be fascinating to see the comedian version of peeking into the life of being at the top.
This docu-series Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up begins streaming on Netflix on Fri. Dec. 27th.
“Laughing Matters: The Funny Business of Being Sad” Doc Short Follows Many of Your Favorite Comedy Folks and Their Journey in Dealing with Depression
This very riveting documentary short Laughing Matters: The Funny Business of Being Sad from SoulPancake, Funny or Die, director Mike Bernstein, and producer/editor Georgia Koch shows how depression has woven its way through the lives of many of your favorite comedic writers, actors, and stand-ups and how they’ve managed to cope.
Included in the doc are harrowing stories of such celebrated funny people Chris Gethard, Sarah Silverman, Rachel Bloom, Baron Vaughn, Neal Brennan, Aparna Nancherla, Rainn Wilson, Sara Benincasa, Riki Lindhome, Wayne Brady, and Anna Akana.
It is indeed #WorldMentalHealthDay and it’s especially worth watching today, but how Laughing Matters effectively navigates the thread of everyone journey with depression, anxiety, and more in this doc is pretty amazing and worth a watch at any time. It’s yet another reminder of how prolific issues with mental health are and why it’s important to take care of it and to know that you’re not alone in how you feel (even though it might feel that way)
You can (and should) watch it here.
Enjoy Trailer for Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins
Razor sharp, unapologetic, outspoken, and often, brutally funny, it almost comes as a surprise that renowned journalist Molly Ivins never found her way into stand-up. Ivins made herself into a famous iconolast with her vast collection of writing whether it be for a Texas publication or The New York Times.
Nevertheless, this documentary about the fireband Texas-raised liberal pundit/journalist/humorist called Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins from director Janice Engel looks pretty damned entertaining.
See for yourself in the trailer for Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins here.
FYI, the doc is set for a theatrical release in September and portions of every ticket sold will benefit the ACLU.
Trailer for SoulPancake and Funny or Die’s Mental Health Doc “It’s Not That Funny”
Though the thumbnail here says that “comedy won’t save you”, we will say that comedy has done a lot to shine a light on the importance of mental health via the struggles of many a comedian (though it’s not a pre-requisite to be depressed to do comedy) with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder, etc.
SoulPancake and Funny or Die are continuing with that notion with this documentary It’s Not That Funny featuring Sarah Silverman, Chris Gethard, Wayne Brady, Sara Benincasa, and more talking frankly about how they’ve managed and dealt with their mental health while in comedy.
See a bit of it for yourself with this trailer.
We’re guessing if you’re a fan of the Hilarious World of Depression, this will be right up your alley. Look for It’s Not That Funny to release soon via SoulPancake and Funny or Die.
Too Soon: The Comedy of 9/11 Doc Finally Gets a Trailer
It’s almost 20 years since 9/11 and, in that time, there have been a plethora of comedy referencing one of the most horrific events in U.S. history. It’s an inevitable way to process the grief surrounding the memory of 9/11 and comedians have definitely delivered that over the years.
Too Soon: The Comedy of 9/11 attempts to tap into this phenomenon and explain why there is in an inclination to joke about such a massive tragedy and a reciprocal desire to get an emotional release through laughter. There was already a great excerpt that covered how The Onion dealt with 9/11 that made our top 100 list from last year.
Here’s a trailer that gives a better scope of what this doc from Nick Fituri Scown and Julie Seabaugh will be covering (that includes interviews with Lewis Black, David Cross, Doug Stanhope, Gilbert Gottfried, Lizz Winstead, Laurie Kilmartin, and Ian Edwards, and of course plenty of 9/11 jokes).
Find out more about and when the release date will be for Too Soon at TooSoonDoc.com.
Later This Year, There Apparently Will Be a Doc About Rory Scovel Doing an Entirely Improvised Performance
There are few details as we only heard this mentioned briefly in passing on the latest episode of the delightful podcast Pen Pals with Daniel and Rory (#GrowTheShow), but, apparently, there is a documentary in the works following the one and only Rory Scovel doing an entire performance (we’re assuming an hour) of stand-up entirely made up on the spot.
It was shot in Atlanta and Scovel called it a doc rather than a traditional comedy special, which leaves a lot to the imagination. Fortunately, when it comes to imagining what Rory does untethered to material, the possibilities are endless (and usually one of the funniest things you’ve ever seen like the time we saw him riff on concrete for 10 minutes).
The picture above is not from the doc, but just something we snapped recently because Rory came out on stage with a Bible he found backstage and was threatening to make the comedy show a Bible study of sorts. It’s the sort of magic that Rory is just great at creating.
We’ll keep you in the loop as more details emerge.
Watch Trailer for Documentary on Silent Comedy Legend Buster Keaton, “The Great Buster: A Celebration”
Outside the realms of cinema and comedy, Buster Keaton often doesn’t get as much credit as his contemporaries like Charlie Chaplin for the foundations that he set up for directing, performing, and, overall, being a star.
Peter Bogdanovich has set out to make up for this with a feature length documentary following Keaton’s life and the auteurs and performers (that includes anybody from Quentin Tarantino to Johnny Knoxville) that he had an indelible mark on in this millennium.
Get a taste of it with this trailer and look for The Great Buster in select theaters starting October 5th.
Please Watch This Docu-Short (and Excerpt from an Upcoming Doc on Comedy and 9/11) “The Onion Issue” About How The Onion Dealt with Making Their First Issue Right After 9/11
This week, legendary satirical publication The Onion marked their 30th year as one of the premier institutions of satire in our culture today. When it comes to topical humor, their ingenious headlines and articles have blazed a trail having them be a household name (even though it wasn’t too long ago that people were still mistaking Onion headlines as real news).
There are so many ways you can metaphorically (or literally) raise a glass to this achievement, but we would urge you to watch this short film The Onion Issue about how they handled making jokes right after 9/11 to celebrate this anniversary.
Take note that this short is, as mentioned above, part of a feature length documentary called Too Soon: The Comedy of 9/11 coming out in 2021 from Nick Scown and Julie Seabaugh. From the looks of it, that documentary will be probably end up being required viewing for any and all in and around comedy.
“Sklars and Stripes” Audio Documentary Series Shows How Sklar Brothers Come Up with Material for Whichever City They’re Playing
Coming up with jokes will always be a mystifying, magical process. Every comedian does it differently and their inspiration can range from anything including molecules to the entirety of the known universe.
The Sklar Brothers are fantastic comedians that definitely have a knack for the craft of joke writing itself. As such, Audible Comedy recorded an audio documentary series that followed Jason and Randy through their gigs across the U.S. Specifically, their actual observations about a place and time are juxtaposed with the distilled jokes that they tell later on. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a facet of the comedic process of two of the quickest wits in comedy.
Sklars and Stripes spans 12 chapters across 10 different cities, which includes a chapter where they had to perform the week after the 2016 election, and is definitely worth a listen. Get it all and hear it on Audible here.
Here’s the Trailer for Judd Apatow’s HBO Documentary “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling”
One of the first really big gigs that Judd Apatow got was coming aboard The Larry Sanders Show. As such, Garry Shandling played a significant role in his life beyond just being a big time fixture in comedy to admire from afar.
The passing of Shandling came and went quickly, without very much warning, but Garry’s life and career are something to marvel at.
To show people how marvelous it really was, he made an in-depth documentary featuring personal journals, video, etc. coupled with conversations with those closest to Shandling.
The result is The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling. You can get a taste of how deep Apatow goes with this trailer.
Look for the premiere on Mon., March 26 at 8PM on HBO.
Hari Kondabolu’s Documentary “The Problem with Apu” Premieres Tonight
Tonight, Hari Kondabolu will take a cue from Adam Conover from Adam Ruins Everything and present the problematic nature of Apu, the Indian Simpsons character voiced by famed white voice actor, Hank Azaria.
The Problem with Apu premieres tonight on TruTV and, given how the last year has really hit the point home that one should listen to groups that are underrepresented, misrepresented, or oppressed, you should give it a watch.
“Too Funny to Fail: The Life and Death of the Dana Carvey Show” Now Streaming at Hulu
Over a score and a year ago, a sketch show called The Dana Carvey Show premiered in primetime on broadcast network television. The show itself boasts some of the most revered comedic minds today including Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Louis CK, Robert Smigel, Jon Glaser, and many more.
Somehow, they didn’t even last a couple of months, much less a full season.
Too Funny to Fail: The Life and Death of the Dana Carvey Show tells the story of how that came to be. This documentary started streaming on Hulu today.
Get a taste of how this whole ordeal went down with this trailer.
See Jim Carrey Lose Himself in Playing Andy Kaufman in “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond”
1999′s Man On The Moon, which had Jim Carrey star as legendary comedian and performer Andy Kaufman brought Carrey to whole new level of method acting where he, seemingly, never stopped being Andy Kaufman whether on camera or off.
This documentary, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond shows never before seen behind the scenes footage from the making of Man On The Moon spliced with interviews from modern day Jim Carrey commenting on what was going in his head.
For comedians, comedy fans, film buffs, actors, and more, this documentary gives a look, like you very likely have never seen before, of what really disappearing into playing someone else is like in real life.
See for yourself in the trailer.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond starts streaming on Netflix on Friday, November 17th.
Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary Coming in 2018
Freak and Geeks, the landmark sitcom that ended up being a launching pad for much of the comedic talent you see on TV and in theaters these days, is getting a documentary with both A&E and Morgan Spurlock on board.
More and more, 1999 becomes a distant memory, and thus, a deep dive back into Freaks and Geeks will probably be a refreshing surprise for many folks who enjoy Paul Feig, Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, James Franco, Busy Philipps, etc. etc.
You’ve now got time between this moment and a TBD premiere date for this doc to, at the very least, watch the series that ended unfortunately far too soon.
Watch Trailer for Gilbert Gottfried Documentary “Gilbert”
It really takes a special kind of comedian to be worthy of a documentary that puts their life, both on and off stage, under the microscope.
Gilbert Gottfried is definitely one of those comedians.
The upcoming documentary Gilbert from Neil Berkeley will not only looks into the long, winding, storied career of Gottfried, but show what he’s like in between being the unmistakable voice on stage and screen. In fact, you get to hear what his real voice sounds like.
See for yourself in the trailer.
Gilbert starts playing in NYC on November 3rd and in LA on November 10th.
Watch Trailer for “Dina”, a Doc That Attempts to Be a True Life Rom Com
In general, most romantic comedies that hit your local multiplex are far removed from reality in almost every aspect. Such fantastical notions of how dating, relationships, love, sex, etc. are supposed to work do serve the purpose of escapism, but they don’t really reflect what a love story might work in the real world.
That’s where the documentary Dina from Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini comes in as it’s a documentary following the real life eccentric couple of Dina Buno and Scott Levin falling in love.
See for yourself how sweet real love can still be in the trailer here, then look for its release on October 6th.