Sam Frazier, Jr. turns his comic documentary eye towards the annual Salsa Showdown at the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama to bring us The Ghost Pepper Eating Contest of Jefferson County. Setting the scene as if the event is being reported on by a rival of Dodgeball‘s fictional ESPN 8 (“The Ocho!”), hosts Mike Cunliffe and Arik Sokol give a running commentary as contestants see who can consume the most hot peppers. This year is notable for the inclusion of the dangerously spicy ghost pepper, yet another item on a list of foods I will never voluntarily place in my mouth.
The main entertainment of the piece comes from the commentary and the enhanced presentation as a major sporting event. Without these bells and whistles, you’d just be watching people eat peppers and cringe. Which might be entertaining, but probably isn’t. In this form, however, it is quite funny.
And, smartly, the film doesn’t overstay its welcome. It lasts just long enough to set the scene, get you laughing and then leaves before you realize you’ve just watched people eat hot peppers for almost ten minutes. Not every joke hits, but they work far more often than they don’t. If you want a good laugh, and feel like mocking those willing to put their gastrointestinal tracts in danger for nothing more than bragging rights, then this film is just what the doctor ordered.
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