Edge

film review: Comedian ***

Jerry Seinfeld sits next to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, promoting Comedian, a new documentary about him. Seinfeld tells Leno that they are about to witness a historical moment in television history. In a few minutes, he tells the host, two people sitting next to each other talking will introduce a clip from Comedian. The clip features the same two people sitting next to each other talking.

Sure enough the part of the movie they show is of Seinfeld and Leno chatting away in a little room. Leno claims to not even know about the camera, which is doubtful since he looks right at it while talking. Still, this is what the movie’s about. People sitting in little rooms talking.

The documentary follows Seinfeld’s attempts to create a new stand-up act from scratch after retiring his famous “Who are these people?” schtick. As a parallel to Seinfeld, it also shows up-and-coming comedian Orny Adams, who jumped around comedy clubs in New York before signing his first development deal. If the point of this movie was to show the plight of the stand-up comic, it succeeded brilliantly. Adams takes us through a tour of his apartment, where he has drawers and cabinets full of jokes and screenplays and one-liners. Seinfeld devotes most of his time to testing out his new material at the same clubs which usually feature newcomers like Adams.

The difference between the two men seems slight at this point, except Seinfeld has hundreds of millions in the bank and Adams is struggling to live without a development deal. It’s actually sad at times to watch Seinfeld and other established comedians like Leno, Colin Quinn, Chris Rock and Bill Cosby, and their addiction to entertaining. Seinfeld has a massive fortune and a newborn daughter. Leno tapes The Tonight Show nightly. Cosby is in his mid sixties. Yet all of these comedians still travel the country, leaving behind their families, because of their desire to entertain. They complain how hard it is, and get mad at the audiences when they aren’t responsive. Still, they can’t give it up.

To most people, stand-up comedy looks like a pretty attractive job. Sure, it seems nerve-wracking, but they get to travel, meet other people and make a lot of money. Comedian destroys that idea completely. It’s not a very funny movie, although it has its moments. It’s just fascinating to watch, since it’s really the first of its kind. There must have been other documentaries on comedians before, but maybe Seinfeld’s fan base allowed this one to get a wider release and more recognition.

Anyone going to see this movie expecting another episode of Seinfeld or a funny stand-up session is in for a big surprise. Comedian is thoughtful and clever, showing the perfect moments from a year of footage to shape the story. Anyone who has ever been curious about stand-up comedy should definitely check out this film. It answers Seinfeld’s old question perfectly: “Who are these people?”

Shawn Wines can be reached at shawnwines@aol.com.

November 5, 2002

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It sure sounds like redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry is going to get his first career start at 8 Thurs ...

If he hasn’t made it already, Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt has a defining decision to ponder in ...

They were way below the radar coming into the 1983 season. And after their 28-3 opening-game loss to ...

In the opening eight minutes on Saturday — and the final seven minutes — FIU looked like a team that ...

The N’Kosi Perry era is here. Whether it’s here to stay is yet to be seen. The fans got what they wa ...

Get Out The Vote, a nonpartisan initiative headed by the Division of Student Affairs and the Butler ...

University of Miami Libraries commemorates Banned Books Week with a special event and display. ...

A year after UPup’s founding father met his match, the service club is realizing its goal of becomin ...

UM students, faculty and staff commemorated the five-year anniversary of the Donna E. Shalala Studen ...

Miami’s Turnover Chain inspires copycats, but the U’s turnover prop has a ‘cool factor.’ ...

The Miami Hurricanes were one of the biggest risers in both major polls released Sunday, jumping to ...

Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team earned one of the most prestigious coll ...

The University of Miami volleyball program defeated Duke, 3-1, winning its fourth straight match and ...

N'Kosi Perry and a dominant Miami defense led the Hurricanes to a 31-17 victory over the Panthe ...

The season-opening, three-day Miami Fall Invite wrapped up Sunday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center a ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.