Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars
Watching Kevin Pollak’s new documentary, which held its NY premiere at the Tribeca Film Fest last night, I had a newfound appreciation for Jerry Seinfeld’s web series ‘Comedians in Cars getting Coffee’. On that short series, now in its 5th season, Seinfeld tools around in a carefully selected retro vehicle with a guest comedian shooting the breeze on life and comedy, eventually parking at a cafe to wrap up their conversation with a meal. At roughly twenty minutes an episode that series exerts more visual flair while getting more to the heart of each of its individual guests than the star-studded but tedious, ninety minute Misery Loves Comedy.
In one and two shot setups, Pollak’s interviewees–numbering over fifty and spanning generations and countries–are encouraged to speak of their influences, their best and worst sets and the ostensible thesis, must one be miserable to succeed in comedy? That question, is just one of a dozen or so title-carded themes upon which the editors of the doc loosely tether what must have been days of content into some sort of order. The trouble with this structure is it is exhausting, lacking any sort of commentary or interaction from filmmakers, or even performance footage of standup.
The amount of star power is blinding, but the excitement is tempered when you realize all of its subjects will be exclusively in isolation. This format has been increasingly bested recently by webcasts like Marc Maron’s WTF, Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist, and yes the aforementioned Seinfeld series. While there are a number of laugh out loud anecdotes from the likes of Jim Jefferies, Stephen Merchant and Christopher Guest, the quantity over quality approach of this film lacks the depth suggested by its title.