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Directed by Lloyd Stanton and Paul Toogood, Dying Laughing reveals the commitment, sacrifices and magic that stand-up comedians put into trying to make us all laugh.
Comedians aren't just joke sharers and one-liner machines; they are storytellers. Eliciting a variety of emotions, a good one may not only make you laugh, but also be shocked, angry, or even sad, then (hopefully) laugh again. They bare their souls on stage, having mined their personal lives and the world around them to hopefully strike gold.
This documentary features revealing interviews with some of the current masters of comedy from around the world, and Frankie Boyle. The impressive roster includes Amy Schumer, Kevin Hart, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Silverman, Jamie Foxx, Billy Connolly, Jerry Seinfeld, Jo Brand, Jim Jefferies, Stewart Lee, Steve Coogan, Chris Rock, Frank Skinner, the late Garry Shandling and Victoria Wood, and many more.
Interviews are presented entirely in black and white, only introducing colour when the comedians are shown at work on stage. It’s probably the biggest comedic ensemble since The Aristocrats (2005), and of course The Sarah O’Connell Show on Youtube! The only glaring absence is many of the current wave of female comediennes touring the UK, such as Sarah Millican, Sara Pascoe and Katherine Ryan.
While we may be used to seeing them selling out huge arenas and going on nationwide tours, most comedians started out nervously bombing to tiny audiences. It’s fascinating to hear their early experiences, which either make or break them. No two audiences are the same either, so they may have to rework material that isn’t resonating with that crowd, and then recompose themselves for the next performance.
While seemingly working only a few hours a night might sound appealing, they are often lonely, unsociable ones. Those on tour may spend their days driving from town to city, living out of a suitcase and in hotels.
We also learn about creative processes of putting an act together, how mixed audiences are engaged with and hopefully captivated, and how to deal with hecklers. It’ll certainly give you a greater appreciation of the art form and respect for the artists, who give their all to make you smile.
For lovers of stand-up, and anyone considering a career in comedy, Dying Laughing is a must-watch.
By Sarah O'Connell on 9th June 2017