At the height of his commercial career, comedian Jerry Seinfeld ended his wildly popular television sitcom, threw away all his old stand-up material, and decided to start completely from scratch. The only caveat was that he would never use his old material again. Comedian traces Seinfeld's journey as he goes back to the bottom and begins anew. To contrast, it also follows Orny Adams, an up-and-coming comedian who is possibly on the cusp of breaking out. Comedian is a look at the creative process behind the stand-up act. It is not too enlightening and feels a little self-congratulatory at times, but it still does make for interesting viewing.

Comedian was shot on digital and directed by Christian Charles, and has the feel of immediacy and intimacy. Frequently, Seinfeld and Adams take the time to speak at length about what is on their minds. The first noticeable thing is how paranoid comedians can be. They feed off crowds and laughter, and the absence of either makes them highly critical of their material. This is also what forces them to continually reevaluate their acts to improve and hone their skills. Seinfeld has a huge advantage over everybody else; people know and recognize him. Therefore, he is able to get laughs no matter what he does due to a healthy combination of recognition and alcohol. There are a few painful moments when he literally forgets his jokes and stands on stage dumbfounded. It's also interesting seeing that even with all of his experience, Seinfeld still gets nervous before performances.

Adams is another matter. He clearly agonizes over his material, showing the camera literally volumes of jokes he has written over the years. He is an extremely confident person, sure of himself and his prowess, almost to the point of arrogance. When one person offers constructive criticism, Adams becomes huffy and offended. Still, fame is like a drug for both of them, and a little taste keeps them coming back for more. Charles includes generous amounts of their material, which keeps Comedian funny and paces it well. The scenes that don't really work are the ones where comedians sit down and chat. There is a cavalcade of guest stars, from Chris Rock and Colin Quinn to Ray Romano and Jay Leno, and most of either reminisce, shower compliments upon each other, or talk about nothing. Comedian gives little insight on how a comedian comes up with material; it jumps ahead to what happens once the base material is there and the comedian begins practicing.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 21 minutes, Rated R for language.

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