UMP Review – The Comedy

Rick Alverson’s drama is a collection of loose scenes that together draw a sketch of a lonesome life of an egocentric individual.


Don’t be mislead by the title – The Comedy directed by Rick Alverson is nowhere near a chillling laugh-out. Starring an Adult Swim comedian Tim Heidecker, this indie drama is a bitter look at a life of a “forever young” stereotype – beware those who praise that though, because there is not much to actually laugh about.


Swanson (Tim Heidecker) with his father dying and life broken into thousand pieces, faces a mid-age crisis – he spends days on getting pissed as a newt, being a douchebag towards everyone else and spending time with his equally childish bunch of friends.

Alverson’s film is entirely plotless – it’s more of a set of loosely collected fragments of Swanson’s life, put together chronologically, but without any narrative backbone. Therefore, the film’s magic lies in the preposterous discussions (with my favorite one about how clean are hobos’ bodies) and how desperately Swanson seeks for emotional spurs and a bit of adrenaline – just anything to keep him both entertained and off the tracks of adulthood. He pays a cab driver to “rent” his car for 20 minutes just for a drive-around, provokes random guys in a bar with some whisky-fueled gibberish – all that to fill in the void in the depressingly shallow life. And Alverson uses this embodiment of idleness to point out that life is actually one, big joke – not a funny one though.


The Comedy is soaked with indie/low-budget feeling, but it serves the film well – as if we watched a documentary about a real 35-year old fu**-up. I must admit that seeing Heidecker pull off a dramatic role was actually more than shocking -to say the least. After witnessing some of his works with Gregg Turkington and Eric Wareheim, I’d bet Tim wasn’t capable of actually acting, without doing some loony 80s stuff. However, portrayal of Swanson, emotion-dry, embittered and obnoxiously egocentric, was credible and enjoyable (if one may say it could be enjoyable though). Apart from Heidecker, the rest of the entire cast, left to improvise, does fit in the awakwardness and satirical atmosphere perfectly too, with aforementioned Turkington stealing the show in just two scenes he appears.

This bitter view on how mundane our lives are and how some of us keep the blood going was a weird experience, put on the same shelf as Von Trier’s Idiots and Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York. It’s a tough challenge for a lonely Friday night, but those seeking more thought-provoking cinema should probably give The Comedy a shot.

UMP Grade: 31/50

(Cinematography: 6, Plot: 5, Acting: 7, Soundtrack: 7, Quaintness: 6)

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