Scarecrow suggests | Like "Funny People"? Find more movies about stand-up comedians on DVD
"Jo Jo Dancer," "Punchline" and "The King of Comedy" — Scarecrow Video suggests these and other DVDs for fans of movies about stand-up comedians.
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Though he often claimed the film is not autobiographical, Richard Pryor wrote, directed and stars as what feels like a thinly veiled version himself in "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling" (1986). The film opens with Jo Jo lying in a coma after being badly burned in a botched attempt to freebase cocaine. His unconscious mind drifts though memories of his life, from his childhood growing up in a brothel on through his tumultuous rise to stardom.
There's more humor tinged with tragedy in "Punchline" (1988). Sally Field plays Lilah Krytsick, a stay-at-home mom who decides to try her luck as a stand-up comedian. At a comedy club she's befriended by fellow aspiring star Steven Gold (Tom Hanks), who helps her refine her craft. Soon Steven's choleric temperament begins to show itself, and his instability takes a toll on their relationship. There are fine performances all around, including John Goodman as Lilah's husband.
Robert De Niro plays a man desperate for stardom in Martin Scorsese's "The King of Comedy" (1983). Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) doesn't appear to have much in the way of comedic talent, but the lengths he's willing to go to in order to achieve fame are expansive. Frustrated with constant rejection, he enlists the help of a fellow crazed fan (Sandra Bernhard) to devise a scheme to kidnap their idol, talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis), and demand a featured spot on his program. One interesting thing about the film is that when Rupert finally does get the chance to show his stuff, he's actually pretty good.
For a more lighthearted look at the lives of real-life funny people, there's the 2005 documentary "The Comedians of Comedy." Patton Oswalt (comedian and the voice of Remy in Pixar's "Ratatouille") heads out on tour with fellow humorists Brian Posehn (from "Mr. Show"), Maria Bamford (comedian and frequent voice actress) and a pre-"Hangover" Zach Galifianakis. The film shows their routines as well as a behind-the-scenes look at life on the road.
Other suggested viewing includes Bob Fosse's Oscar-nominated "Lenny" (starring Dustin Hoffman as controversial comedian Lenny Bruce); Carl Reiner's "Enter Laughing" and "The Comic"; Billy Crystal's "Mr. Saturday Night"; and "Comedian," the documentary chronicling Jerry Seinfeld's return to stand-up.
Contributed by Scarecrow Video, 5030 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle; 206-524-8554 or www.scarecrow.com.
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