Fun facts. That's what Ryan Stout likes to employ in his humor, and also what he did in his late-night TV debut the other night on Conan.
Punching the Clown is neither a documentary nor a concert film, although it does star musical comedian Henry Phillips as Henry Phillips, a satirical folksinger, and it does incorporate much of his live act into a 91-minute narrative that manages to be both a lighthearted comedy and pointed parody of Hollywood.
The film, which won the audience award for best feature at Slamdance, as well as honors at multiple other festivals, opens its official cinematic run tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.
Let's take a look at the trailer, which includes a word or two to make it not safe for work. Roll the clip!
As Phillips describes his career arc to the late-night radio disc jockey, we see how Phillips decided after one hell gig too many (at a restaurant run by Eddie Pepitone), to ditch the road and move in with his failing actor in Los Angeles, and through one miscommunication and misunderstanding after another, finds himself failing upward. Phillips has others measuring his career against a more successful musical comedian named Stupid Joe (Mark Cohen), who audiences love for his many fart songs. The cast also features Chris Fairbanks, Nikki Glaser, Ryan Stout, Derek Waters, Mike O'Connell, and several Second City Alumni, including Paul Willson, Wade Kelley, Steve Sheridan and Sean Masterson.
Here's a scene at a party in the Hollywood Hills, with Phillips, Glaser and Stout, oh my!
More fun facts! Phillips and co-writer/director Gregori Viens first collaborated together on a 1997 documentary on the L.A. coffehouse open-mic scene, after meeting in 1993 when Phillips performed his first "open mic night" at the old Highland Grounds.
Viens and Phillips will be attending screenings this week in NYC, for brief Q&A sessions afterward at the following dates and times: Viens at 7:20 p.m. tonight Oct. 22; Viens at 7:20 p.m. Saturday Oct. 23; Viens at 3 p.m. Sunday Oct. 24; Viens at 7:20 Monday Oct. 25; and Phillips at 7:20 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 26.
Here's one more quick clip to sample, in which Phillips explains his status as a musical comedian.
When a comedian shows up in a suit and tie, at least in this century, you don't expect the jokes coming out of his mouth to make you question his and your morality. That's one misdirect. But Ryan Stout, in his half-hour Comedy Central Presents, staged something even more devilish on his unsuspecting audience (which I saw taped live last November). Fully knowing he was going to startle his crowd time and time again, Stout chose to open with a joke that should have served as a direct warning.
No, he didn't take off the suit and tell his jokes clad only in a sock. Rather, the former Boston contest winner (2005) and HBO Aspen festival comedian demonstrated for the audience how he expected them to laugh at his material. Roll the clip:
It's a sly choice. And it sets up bits like these...