‘Dying Laughing’ Brings All The Best Comedians In To Talk About Their Craft
Speaking from experience, stand-up comedy is hard. It’s really hard. Not only do you go on-stage alone with your own material, but you’re either going to do good or bomb. Even if you have good material you can bomb. One night will have a crowd of people laughing at your jokes, and the next night will have people getting pissed off at you because they forget you’re on a stage telling jokes. Some of the funniest people I have ever met are stand-up comedians who have been on the scene for years, but they never hit it big. It’s confusing watching someone so funny not be more famous than many that shouldn’t be famous at all.
Sam Phillips, Social Underground’s resident Sex and Men series writer, has had a hand in producing a documentary film called Dying Laughing. The film interviews some of the best and more legendary comedians ever to hit the stage.
Premise: Whilst painters, writers, musicians even dancers are talked about as Artists, stand-up comedians are often regarded as mere entertainers – yet their work has possibly more direct effect on an audience than any other art form. These are social and cultural commentators who at their best can change the way we think about important matters whilst making us howl with laughter. A stand-up comedian must be the writer, the director and the star performer, and unlike any other performance there is no rehearsal, no practice, no safety net, the stand-up can only work in front of a live audience – with feedback being instantaneous and often brutal. For most people baring their soul to then have an audience boo or heckle them would be a life-changing trauma, for stand-ups it’s a weekly challenge. Dying Laughing is a unique glimpse into the agony and ecstasy of performance along with an singular examination into the day-to-day life of a professional stand-up.
“Comedians are damaged people.” Keenen Ivory Wayans explains in the simplest explanation of being a comedian. Being a stand-up comedian means that you go on to the stage and basically unload your entire life and point of view on to the audience. The difficulty in doing this cannot really be explained, but Dying Laughing really tries to show you just how hard it is to be funny on stage. Check out the ‘teaser’ trailer below. I think Sam Phillips was part of something really great when she helped get this made.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR and by just looking up his name.