For those who are maybe unaware of the daily mechanics of a comedian’s mind, then Dying Laughing is the documentary that is set to debunk the glamour of comedy. Directed by duo Lloyd Stanton and Paul Toogood, they have stitched together an insane amount of interviews from renowned US and UK comedians, candidly talking about their career paths, bad gigs, hecklers, being on the road, depression and their inherent need to make people laugh.
Naturally a feature length film interviewing some of the most famous and renowned comedians should be funny, thankfully it is. Initially there is a bit of awe at what a cast of interviewees have managed to draw up from either side of the pond; Jerry Seinfield, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Jamie Foxx, Billy Connolly, Eddie Izzard, Stewart Lee, Frank Skinner and Frankie Boyle to name a few. Even appearances from the late Garry Shandling and Victoria Wood feature which provide a moment that warms the heart. The comedians are filmed in black and white that tries to arise the cinematic appeal of the documentary, which is combined with cutaways of sordid hotel rooms and vast plains, that are supposed to support the drudgery but sometimes make the journey look romantic. But it’s a bit visually arresting for most of the time.
Whilst such a wide canvas of appearances of different names might draw appeal from different sets of fans, it can also become a bit jarring trying to keep up with the different names that makes the documentary feel like it doesn’t quite hold focus. It flirts with being emotive that at times give the depth the documentary is probably aiming for, particularly when those talk about depression or bombing in front of their idols. As a documentary, it doesn’t quite offer anything profound or to elevate the subject matter as fascinating for those not too interested in comedy. Dying Laughing might be essential viewing for anyone in the industry but feels like it might not hit the dizzy heights The Aristocrats enjoyed at the cinema. Nevertheless, an enjoyable watch.