Thursday, March 20, 2008

Comedy at the Edge

Steve MartinIt looks like a documentary version of Richard Zoglin’s Comedy at the Edge is in the works. We get the news today from the professionals at Variety:

Yukster icons such as Steve Martin, Richard Pryor and George Carlin will get the documentary treatment from filmmaker R.J. Cutler, who’s purchased the rights to Richard Zoglin’s just-published “Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-Up in the 1970s Changed America.” While the film is in the very early planning stages, Cutler said Zoglin has access to several decades’ worth of archival footage as well as relationships with many of the key comics examined in the book.

“We’re talking about a lot of things that would involve many of the key figures, as well as this storehouse of extraordinary footage that exists,” Cutler said. “Most of these figures are still alive today and have amazing stories to tell.” Like the book, the documentary will examine comics from Lenny Bruce to Jerry Seinfeld. It will also look at the way in which standup shaped pop culture as well as “the provocative questions the book poses about our culture today,” Timberman said. Zoglin said the feature will help give comics of the era their due.

This sounds like an outstanding project. I am a big fan of Steve Martin and Richard Pryor and have particular interest in their history. The above list contains a number of heavy hitters that are not only funny-men but prophets that used humor as a means to shake up the belief systems of a generation.

I am very interested in seeing interviews with those alive spliced together with archive footage from the era. I love hearing road stories, and this film should have gobs of them. With the film based on a completed book of research, it sounds like they have all their homework done; now the task of assembling can begin. Pryor, Martin, Carlin and Bruce seem to have sprouted family trees of comedy and you can see the modern day evolution of each of their styles in today’s comedy clubs. It’s not that people are ripping them off (although that happens) but the rules or language of a joke was laid out by these individuals and many followers simply follow the blueprint to create their own work. These men were architects of style.

This is a documentary to look out for as far as I am concerned, and I will follow its progress with great personal interest.


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