Dying Laughing

Dying Laughing


Directors Lloyd Stanton and Paul Toogood have assembled some of the biggest names in Anglo-American stand-up for this insightful, honest and mostly amusing study of making people laugh (for money). Following in the footsteps of Kevin Pollak's Misery Loves Comedy (2015), this isn't always entirely original in its analysis of the motivation for standing alone in a spotlight surrounded by potential hecklers. Some 100 jokesters were interviewed and, while only half make the final cut, one suspects that is because Stanton and Toogood heard multiple variations on the same anecdotes. However, they make a decent case for stand-up being considered a masochistic art form, as so many comics not only mock, but also bare their souls on stage. The film is at its best when exploring the insecurities, isolation and ignorance that have to be overcome on a nightly basis, but less so on examining the philosophy of wit. However, by juxtaposing the monochrome talking heads with colour snapshots of life on the road, the co-directors convey something of the agony and ecstasy of a potentially soul-destroying vocation.


Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman and others discuss the craft, creative process and psychology of performing stand-up comedy before a live audience.