It Started as a Joke (2019)

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It Started as a Joke: Directed by Julie Smith Clem, Ken Druckerman. With Michael Ian Black, Wyatt Cenac, Jo Firestone, Jon Glaser. A look at the decade-long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in Brooklyn, the alternative comedy scene in New York, and Eugene’s personal life.

“Greetings again from the darkness. Have you heard the one about the comedy festival poking fun at comedy festivals? Of course not. And you may not even be familiar with comedian Eugene Mirman. But the efforts of co-directors Julie Smith Clem and Ken Druckerman ensure that by the end of their documentary, we understand the impact of Eugene Mirmanu0026#39;s Comedy Festival (founded to parody comedy festivals).u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eSo who is Eugene Mirman? Heu0026#39;s one of the key players in alternative comedy … comedians who donu0026#39;t rely on traditional jokes, and often perform in places other than comedy clubs. If you ever watched the series u0026quot;Iu0026#39;m Dying Up Hereu0026quot;, you saw a comedian perform in the back of a local deli. That is an example of alternative comedy. When you check the lineup of comedians included here, it becomes even more obvious. Kristen Schaal, John Hodgman, Kumail Nanjiani, Janeane Garofola, Jim Gaffigan, Bobcat Goldthwaite, Mike Birbiglia, and Michael Showalter are just a few of the participants. Ms. Garofola embraces her u0026quot;alternativeu0026quot; by labeling herself a terrible joke writer, and more of a u0026quot;filibusterer.u0026quot;u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eEugene Mirman is known for his voice acting (u0026quot;Bobu0026#39;s Burgersu0026quot; and u0026quot;Archeru0026quot;), as well as his appearances on TV series such as (the brilliant) u0026quot;Flight of the Conchords.u0026quot; He married Set Director Katie Tharp and they had a son named Oliver. These personal details matter because Katieu0026#39;s cancer plays a part in Eugeneu0026#39;s final year for the festival, and we get a glimpse of their home life, including time with Oliver. Their personal life is instrumental in elevating this from a Comedy Central special where comedians parade across the stage, to a real life drama that inspires a comical look at the parts of life that donu0026#39;t seem so funny on the surface.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eA community of comedians is on full display here at The Bell House in Brooklyn. They recall the first time they met or saw Eugene perform, and recollect memories of the festivalu0026#39;s past 10 years. Each of those festivals were presented with some off-the-wall theme – sometimes funny, sometimes poignant. H Jon Benjamin (lead voice in u0026quot;Bobu0026#39;s Burgersu0026quot;) tells his story … a pork chop story that was his introduction to Eugene. Silliness is ever-present, but the Eugene/Katie love story stands on its own – including the u0026#39;first kissu0026#39; photo that graced their wedding invitation. The festival may have begun as a joke, and comedians may shy away from dragging their personal life into the act, but itu0026#39;s clear u0026quot;comedy is about connecting with peopleu0026quot;, and its value never diminishes.”


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