This review was originally published on January 22, 2012…
“The Comedy,” or its apparent alternate title “Tim and Eric’s Mumblecore Harmony Korine Movie,” is by far one of the most wildly inappropriate and pitch black comedies I’ve ever seen in my life. The sole purpose of the film seems to be to make the viewer as uncomfortable as the upper-class scumbags onscreen are making everyone around them feel. And I’ll tell you what, I appreciated it. “The Comedy” is meandering and fairly pointless but it’s wickedly funny and is an equal opportunity offender to sex, religion, class and race. I was cringing as much as I was laughing, and as a result I’d call “The Comedy” an experience rather than just a film you passively watch.
While I don’t recall anyone having a name in the film, according to IMDB, Tim Heidecker plays a character named “Swanson” who’s extremely wealthy father is in the process of dying. Swanson could care less, and since his brother is in an insane asylum, he apparently stands to inherit the massive wealth. He could care less about that too and lives his life in New York as a wandering, belligerent a*****e who’d much rather hang out with his cadre of a*****e friends, drinking cheap beer and pushing buttons before passing out in any given place.
In many ways Swanson and his crew reminded me of Adam Sandler’s ne’er do well friends in “Billy Madison” but these guys aren’t just happy to be drunk, they actively seek to piss off anyone in their immediate sphere. But the film isn’t just an exercise in how uncomfortable and offended it can make the viewer, it’s an examination of people who are careless, thoughtless wastes of space who have no feelings or real reason to be on the earth and the issues that arise from that. Obviously the issue that will arise for viewers is: why should you care. The answer? You don’t have to.
Swanson’s life is so pointless he has to pretend to be employed at establishments he enters until he finally lands a meaningless job as a dishwasher. He meets girls and has success with them (probably because he’s funny and lives on a boat) but these girls mean nothing to him either. “The Comedy” is about a guy in such an existential dilemma that what he’s experiencing can’t even be called that. It’s too far beyond it and perhaps “existential sinkhole” is more apt. It’s as if Swanson and his gang are 12 year old boys given a free pass to be 21 where they can drink, smoke and wreak havoc but are still 12 at heart.
I’m not sure if there was a script or a basic idea of what each scene should contain and then improv’d from there, but I suspect the latter. In either case, the acting is solid. There’s some truly funny exchanges between the characters and no one breaks or gives any semblance of enjoyment even though I was laughing pretty hard more than a few times at the verbal exchanges. These are miserable human beings being portrayed and they don’t get enjoyment from their behavior and they aren’t playing to the camera for laughs.
Eric Wareheim is also in this film and plays Swanson’s friend but I include him only to answer the question as to whether or not he’s in the film. He is, but “The Comedy” is no “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job” surreal, stoner extravaganza. This film is slow, meandering and realistically offensive. It pulls no punches in its extremity and, by the end, I appreciated its willingness to be dark, filthy and rude, and never stray from those core values.