If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy, and those who perform it, you’re no doubt aware that a staggering percentage are truly miserable.
Greetings, and welcome to yet another Kick Starter Campaign. This one is for a feature film documentary that I’ll be directing about the darker side of comedians. It’s called “Misery Loves Comedy.”
You may know me as an actor, but did you know that I started as a stand-up? Did you? Just answer the question so I can go on. Yes, that’s right, Comedy Central did name me one of the Top 100 Comedians of All Time. Thanks for pointing that out. Now, while I’ve been fortunate to act in a number of movies, I don’t know the exact number—74—six of which, terrific—Nothing I’ve ever done as an actor will ever beat the feeling of being on a stage as a comedian and taking the audience for a ride of my choosing for an hour. To live or die by your own wits; moment by moment, ever-aware that a debilitating defeat could be waiting around the next punchline… If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy, and those who perform it, you’re no doubt aware that a staggering percentage are truly miserable. We’ve lost number of great comedians to drugs, alcohol and suicide. How can they be so entertaining to strangers and so filled with sadness and/or rage with family and friends…? The main goal of this film is to shed extensive light on this bizarre dichotomy … It’s gonna be a hoot!
So you know, this documentary isn’t going to just be about funny people fighting depression. Oh, heck no. For example, here’s a fun fact for ya: Public speaking is America’s number one fear, above death… It’s true. So, who is this person who chooses to stand alone in front of a room full of strangers and try to make them laugh…? What’s that? Oh, ya say you like to make your friends laugh at parties? I don’t blame you. It’s fun as hell. Try it, though, in front of people who don’t know you; who’ve never heard of you; who will not think you’re funny—until you prove them wrong… Still, the fact is the average person would rather die than have to speak in public. Yet, the stand-up comedian is usually more comfortable on stage than he or she is off.
I’ve always been fascinated by the dark and the light of the comedian. My hope is that we uncover more about them than any of us think we know. When I reached out to the funny people that I’ve met or worked with over the years to share their experiences, recollections or observations, the response to participate in this film was instant, if not overwhelming.
So far, the following funny people have agreed to help me explore and possibly enlighten:
In no particular order…
- Christopher Guest
- Jim Gaffigan
- Dana Carvey
- Ralphie May
- Richard Lewis
- Rob Delaney
- Nick Griffin
- Penn Jillette
- Eddie Izzard
- Jon Favreau
- Joel McHale
- James L. Brooks
- Paul Feig
- Tom Hanks
- Harry Shearer
- Marc Maron
- Jason Reitman
- Barry Sonnenfeld
- Dave Thomas
- Chris Hardwick
- Scott Aukerman
- Matt Walsh
- Richard Kind
- Alan Zweibel
- Bobby Slayton
- Peter Farrelly
- Dana Gould
- Andy Richter
- David Wain
- Greg Proops
- Tom Lennon
- Lisa Kudrow
- Peter Serafinowicz
- Eugene Mirman
- Kevin Nealon
- Kumail Nanjiani
- Laraine Newman
- Stephen Merchant
and many more…
I’ll also spend time with sons and daughters, ex-wives and widows of the greats like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Richard Pryor. Freddie Prinze Jr, for example, has agreed to talk about his father for the first time, and I’m incredibly grateful to him, and everyone for participating.
Because of early support on this Kickstarter project, the film's production company Heretic Films green-lit Misery Loves Company! You all made this possible.
However, as those of you with experience in film will know, this is the first step in a long and difficult process of getting this film finished and screened around the country. While we have some amazing people involved in this film, it's my directorial debut. Studios and distributors are risk-averse and we need your help to make it happen. I know how this film needs to be made. The bottom line is that we still need to successfully raise the $50,000 to do it right.
Here are some of the ways your support would strengthen the film:
- Entry into major festivals, including TIFF, SXSW, Sundance, SIFF - A solid festival tour is critical for securing a distribution deal that makes sure the film is seen in theaters.
- Allow 5 more days of shooting - With so many great comedians agreeing to talk on camera, we risk not being able to capture all of the stories and conduct enough interviews. If the campaign is successful, we can talk to many more comedians and not have to rush our conversations.
- Access key archival footage - There are stories from comedians like George Carlin and Richard Pryor that are no longer with us which belong in this film. However, getting access to that kind of footage costs a surprising amount of money. We need the context and history from these legendary comedians to complete the films perspective.
- Hire a press agent - Having a solid press agent on the team will help us promote the film across the country.
Kevin Pollak - Pollak started stand-up comedy at age of ten and was a touring pro at twenty. It was Pollak’s role in Rob Reiner’s A Few Good Men, that proved his ability to stand out on the big screen with dramatic heavyweights. This was further affirmed not too soon after, when Kevin co-starred in The Usual Suspects and Martin Scorsese’s Las Vegas epic, Casino. As the 20th century came to a close, Variety named its top 10 hardest working film actors, the criteria of which was that said actors had to have done at least 3 films per year, each year of the 1990's. Kevin was on the list. As the millennium began, Kevin returned to his first love, stand-up comedy. He began touring the country on occasion and continues to here and abroad. His film career hasn’t slowed down, as he’s co-starred in 43 films since 2000. Pollak starred in three of his own stand-up comedy specials and was named by Comedy Central as one of the Top 100 Comedians of all Time. As a director, Kevin makes his feature film debut with Misery Loves Comedy, to be followed by the feature film comedy, Vamped Out, by years end.
Burton Ritchie - Burton is a successful, serial entrepreneur and film producer. He is currently a Producer on a wide array of themes: Low Down (starring John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, and Elle Fanning), Big Significant Things (starring Harry Lloyd and Krista Kosonen), Pump, an environmental documentary from award winning and Academy nominated director Josh Tickell, and Vamped Out. As a true film afficionado, Burton also knows the industry and can utilize his substantial business acumen to make Heretic Films a leader in its class.
Becky Newhall - After graduating from Towson University with a degree in Film and Television Production, Becky began her career in the field of Advertising. Eventually, she moved into the Recruiting industry, and finally the Medical Sales arena. After taking an eight year hiatus to have a family, Becky decided to finally go after her dream of becoming a Filmmaker. She started her Production Company, NewAley Pictures, and is in pre-production of her first film, "Misery Loves Comedy".
Ben Galecki - Ben has a strong background in IT and services, as well as specialized project management. He draws from his love of the visual arts and experience as a business owner to add depth to the team’s organizational needs, as well as bringing crucial understanding of film technology and infrastructure. This combination of method, technology, and passion help give Heretic Films its ability to expand traditional structures and systems to the benefit of the entire team.
If any part of this interests you to the point of wanting to participate, on our kick-starter page you’ll see a number of ways that you, too, can help make this film possible. I hope you do. If not, thank you for taking the time to hear me out. Like the comedian once said, after taking the stage…alone…without a safety net…
“Is this thing on?”
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
With your help we will reach the finish line and tell a story that needs to be told. With this goal achieved, and the momentum of all of you helping, we will keep moving!
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.