I first heard of Comedian from John Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like blog & book. We were talking about public speaking, humor, and the art of communicating effectively. He said, “You’ve got to see it!” What he didn’t mention is that it wouldn’t be the easiest film to track down. Since it released back in 2002, it’s not exactly lining the shelves of Blockbuster or filling the racks at Red Box. We used a friend’s account with Netflix to rent a copy–and we’re oh-so-happy we did.
Whether you’re a pastor, preacher, teacher, or public speaker of any kind, something about being on stage stirs terror, fear, excitement, thrill, calmness and every response in between. All of those emotions and more are revealed in real-time in Comedian.
Comedian follows the journey of Jerry Seinfeld, post Seinfeld, who is building a new comedy act from scratch. All new material. Nothing from previous shows. May sound simple, but as the film progresses, you discover how brutal, difficult, challenging the process is. He starts with a few minutes of material and over the course of the movie develops it into a full show–honing every word, the timing, the delivery. Along the way, the darker side of the comedic life–the insecurities, self-doubts, failures on stage emerge–and viewers are given a sneak peek behind the scenes of what it takes. Appearances from Colin Quinn, Robert Klein, Ray Ramano, Chris Rock, Gary Shandling and a long list of other comedians back stage and at late night meals add depth and insight to the film.
The two moments I can’t get out of my mind are an exchange between Seinfeld and Orny Adams about why a comedian chooses to be a comedian (raising parallels of why people choose to serve in ministry), the conversation between Seinfeld and Jay Leno about Leno’s handling of money and how he plans for the future (provocative for what he’s facing now) and the closing moments between Seinfeld and Bill Cosby that almost bring the comedian to tears.
If you’ve never seen Comedian, you need to–it will change the way you see and appreciate people who preach, teach, and step on and off a stage of any size.