Do you have to be miserable to be funny? Through anecdotes and discussion, this age-old question is the apparent focus for new documentary, Misery Loves Comedy.
As a question often put to comedians, and perhaps even more since the death of Robin Williams, to whom this documentary is dedicated, director Kevin Pollak has compiled the interviews of around fifty comedians and actors to look at the role misery plays in being able to get laughs. Unfortunately, Misery Loves Comedy falls flat at dealing with the topic in hand, and instead ends up being a drawn out combination of random anecdotes and conversations.
Edited together in short clips, we hear from American comedians mostly; Stephen Merchant, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are the only British contributors. Male contributors are also in the majority, and only a handful of women are interviewed, including the very funny Amy Schumer. Whoopi Goldberg is also the only African-American to be interviewed. I can understand, as an American produced documentary, that the majority of contributors would be American. However, the lack of females and diversity really shows up throughout.
The director, better known as an actor and comedian himself, has a habit of interrupting the interviewees as they speak, which is simply very annoying to watch. The discussions also jump around in topic, and are mostly just the contributors talking about their own careers, families and sharing stories. There are occasional moments of interest, such as Freddie Prinze Jr. talking about his father, but sadly these are limited.
Towards the end of the documentary, the connection between misery and comedy is briefly touched upon, but the answer is not delivered. There isn’t a great deal of ‘soul-searching’ in the responses, which perhaps is necessary for a connection to be established. Simply, this documentary would be better titled as Interviews With Comedians.
Does misery love comedy? Unfortunately, we still don’t know.
Misery Loves Comedy will be released on DVD on 2nd November 2015.