When Stand Up Stood Out

"Good"

When Stand Up Stood Out Review


Comedian Fran Solomita can hold his breath and stamp his feet all he wants, but that isn't going to make 1970s-to-80s Boston much more than a footnote in the history of stand-up comedy.

Like The Aristocrats' Paul Provenza, Solomita is also a comedian who figured he'd take a stab at directing a documentary, and for his topic he figured he'd pick, well, himself and his pals from Boston. According to Solomita, at the time, there was no comedy scene anywhere in the country except for L.A. and New York (pity Chicago's Second City, founded in 1959, which merits no mention here at all). But thanks to a Chinese restaurant in Boston, good old Beantown got on the map as a comedy venue, too.

The first two-thirds of the film alternates between archival footage of those early shows (some of which are truly funny), and talking heads of comedians you may know (and many you won't) who came of age during that era... and mostly went nowhere. Sadly, their names aren't on the box, but Paula Poundstone's 45 seconds of chatter earned her a spot on the marquee next to big names like Garofalo, Goldthwait, and Leary. (Solomita, of course, talks the most. His well-meaning yet Bob Saget-esque voice makes him a terrible narrator that really starts to grate on you after half an hour.)

Solomita, when he manages to drag himself out of syrupy nostalgia, finally manages to focus on two of the Boston scene's more interesting stories: Lenny Clarke and Steven Wright. Clarke, an angry comic known for making audiences and agents turn against him, pretty much gets what's coming to him. He's the hardest working comic in Boston, and eventually gets a local TV show, but it's soon cancelled and his career stalls. Clarke is now a bit player in a variety of TV shows and films.

Then there's Wright. Wright is "discovered" and invited on the Tonight Show, and his unique style of comedy earns him a seat at the desk and a return visit the following night. Wright's career immediately takes off (though what he's doing now I have no idea), and Boston couldn't be happier for him. Boston comedy is now on the map. And the rest of the comics sit back and wait for their shot... which never comes. The ensuing drama is intriguing, though Solomita plays it down and it sort of dwindles into nothing until he picks up the story again years later, when grudges are put aside for a benefit show for one of the comics prominently featured in the film... whose name, of course, didn't make the box.

The DVD includes stand-up outtakes, making of featurette, bonus archival footage, and a "flashback" with Bostonian Dane Cook.

Aka When Standup Stood Out.



When Stand Up Stood Out

Facts and Figures

Run time: 87 mins

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Fran Solomita

Producer: Fran Solomita

Starring: as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Herself, as Himself

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