Film Review: Dying Laughing
Dying Laughing is a fascinating documentary from directors Lloyd Stanton and Paul Toogood. Through their own words, comedians tell the story of making people laugh.
A series of US and UK comedians are interviewed about their stand-up career. The topics that come up in these conversations include the start of their career, being on tour, formulating jokes, and dealing with hecklers…
With Dying Laughing, filmmakers Lloyd Stanton and Paul Toogood paint a portrait of the life of a stand-up comedian. To do this, they speak to a variety of well-known comics; sourcing experience, anecdotes and wisdom from them. These voices have varied experience, but come together to tell a convincing tale.
Dying Laughing is not a laugh riot. This is clear from early on in proceedings. Instead of a collection of witty anecdotes, the film offers a spectrum of stories and emotions as it details the life of a stand-up comedian. It is a richer and more memorable film for this, as it explores both the highs and lows of the vocation.
The filmmakers interview a range of well-known comedians, speaking to some of the most successful faces in the game. These include Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, and Billy Connolly. The comics featured give a frank portrayal of the world of stand-up comedians, and do not shy away from the less than flattering aspects of the comedy world. There are times when the film goes to dark places, as the interviewees discuss the loneliness of the being on the road, as well as mental health and dealing with the stress of the stage. Yet the film also focuses on the positives, as comedians extrapolate on the joys of a successful gig, how comedy has helped them, and meeting their idols.
Dying Laughing is succinctly edited to create a flowing conversation that lands on different topics in a seamless manner. The passion from the subjects is abundantly clear; Stanton and Toogood give them the space and the structure to tell their own tale.