A stand-up comedian is mostly his or her own writer, director and star performer. Unlike any other art form, there is no safety net and no private rehearsal. In its singular realisation, stand-up comedy only works live on a stage – in front of often-hostile audiences. For most people baring their soul and being heckled would be a life-changing trauma, for stand-ups it’s a nightly hazard.
The very idea of standing on a stage in front of strangers and trying to make them laugh, fills me with utter dread. I imagine it’s the same for most people, and is most likely reason the subject stand-up comedy is so fascinating and rife for a documentary.
Dying laughing is a British produced documentarty, about the life of a stand-up comic and although it sometimes treads familar territory-the loneliness of the road, the anguish of your set dying etc, directors Paul Toogood & Lloyd Stanton achieve a startling level of intimacy in a series of riveting interviews with the masters of comedy. What follows is an in-depth discussion about the emotional and psychological highs and lows of life on the road.
Dying laughing is an emotional rollercoaster, which fully encapsulates the life of a performer. Chris Rock says comedians are “the last philosophers.” and, to a certain extent, he’s right. We follow this trend, with some of the most loved and respected comedians, whom speak candidly about their loves, their peevs and ultimately, their lust for being a stand-up comedian.
The film can feel a little self-indulgent at times, however that just adds to its charm. At no point do you want the interviews to stop. This is a great film, that gives an insight into the psyche of a wordsmith.