The Comedian’s Guide to Survival
As Charlie Chaplin once said, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot”. This rings true for this painfully awkward and brilliantly funny movie, directed by Mark Murphy, exploring the early comedic career of James Mullinger before he shot to fame.
James Buckley, bowl cut co-star of Inbetweeners repute, plays Mullinger and documents his hapless attempts at breaking into stand-up.
Gags abound in this semi-autobiographical romp, which manages to stay freshly humorous throughout. There are the expected cringe moments that make this movie a comedy of errors: expect plenty of public urination and slapstick jokes. It’s physicality plays against the dry wit of the writing, with most of the laughs coming from a simple expression or implied meaning, and viewers get a real sense of the team behind the film trying their best to subvert the usual tropes – like The Office style fourth wall break that manages to feel purposeful and new, despite being a recurring trend in mainstream media.
With Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck taking the world by storm, self deprecating semi-autobiographies are hardly original, and Comedians Guide will find it hard to stand out. Its message is tired, with a not particularly contemporary perspective. Furthermore, the inspirational journey theme feels like a joke setup that doesn’t quite land.
The film is tongue in cheek enough to not feel preachy, but it’s dull to see the effects of “following your heart” resulting in success, especially when we know the ending already (Mullinger is a global name).
The plot remains tightly controlled for the first half, but devolves into a rather vague ending, where things are tidied up but not particularly meaningfully. It’s a limp ending for a story that otherwise does quite well, feeling more like a sketch than a blockbuster. Despite this, the jokes manage to remain consistent throughout, and Game of Thrones’ Paul Kaye is iconic as Mullinger’s boss.
The Comedians Guide to Survival is watchable fun, and will appeal to comedy aficionados based on the cameos alone, but it might want to aim higher than simple survival.
The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is released nationwide on 28th October 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Comedian’s Guide to Survival here: