Is I Am Comic the best documentary about stand-up comedy? Not entirely sure about that just yet, although the DVD and extras might tip the scales. Certainly, Jordan Brady's I Am Comic gives viewers one of the broadest looks inside the minds and the world of working stand-up comedians. And sometimes one of the silliest. Near the top of the 85-minute film, Dave Attell mocks the very idea of a stand-up documentary and suggests that perhaps the only way to do it right would be to interview comedians while they lick giant lollipops. Since this is a film about comedians by a comedian, you can rest assured that'll get covered.
Brady introduces himself as a former stand-up, and as a guy who toured the road with Ritch Shydner, Brady visits Shydner's home to enlist him in getting comedians to talk on camera. In doing so, the film becomes a bit of a companion piece or sequel to "I Killed," the book of comedy road stories that Shydner had compiled several years ago. The comedians who talk to Shydner and Brady run the gamut from Jeff Foxworthy, Sarah Silverman, Jim Gaffigan, Tim Allen, Tommy Davidson, Brian Regan, Nikki Glaser (who invites them into the Tampa Improv comedy condo), Margaret Cho, Carlos Mencia (who — believe it or not — admits to stealing jokes and ideas from other comedians! Spoiler alert!), Kathy Griffin, Carrot Top, Brent Weinbach, Nick Kroll, the Sklar Brothers, Todd Glass, Robert Schimmel and dozens more. Along the way, tracking down comedians and watching club shows, Shydner gets the itch to return to stand-up after a long absence, and this becomes a running subplot.
Watching it at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival (there is another screening there tonight) in a section surrounded by comedians, I could see that comedians laugh at different portions of the movie for different reasons than the general audience of comedy fans. That's not a bad thing. Just shows how the movie plays on both a broad level and an insidery one. I asked Brady about this and more along Portland's riverfront park. Here's what he had to say:
I Am Comic is scheduled for additional screenings May 10 in New York City, June at Just For Laughs Chicago, this summer on premium cable, and this fall on DVD.