The Comedians of Comedy Movie Review
On the low-rewards end are Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn, each of whom have had semi-regular sitcom gigs (King of Queens and Just Shoot Me, respectively) and are given the bulk of the screen time here, unfortunately. With Oswalt, a soft and unassuming Oliver Platt-like guy who has a penchant for excruciatingly long and unfunny political rants, the reason for his prominence is clear: he's both the emcee of the show and a producer of the film. The inclusion of Posehn, a looming Wookiee of a man with a voice that alternates between a high-pitched squeak and a low stoner mumble, makes less sense, given how much of his material is given over to geeky musings on Star Wars.
During a radio interview, Oswalt differentiates their style from that of your standard standup and defines it by being more conversational and less of a put-on; the idea being that they're not going to talk differently on stage than they would off it. The problem with this approach is that, as the film's lengthy stretches of tedious tour diary footage show, if a comic like Oswalt and Posehn is not that funny off-stage, their chances of being funny on-stage drop exponentially.
Maria Bamford, with a style that's mindful of Ellen DeGeneres' neurotic kid sister, comes closer to achieving what Oswalt's talking about. Even if her range seems limited (odd voices and off-the-wall observations), it comes closer to something that's actually ... funny. But in the end it's really only Zack Galifianakis who successfully presents an alternative idea of comedy. A bearded guy with an unsettling stare, Galifianakis does much of his act playing sad pieces on a piano, eyes closed, throwing Steven Wright-esque shards of absurdity into a microphone ("I'm thinking of making a movie... it's called Schindler's List II: Let's Get This Party Started"). He does one bit as though he were a comic from 1776, powdered wig and all ("Is this thing on? What the fuck is this thing?! Is it just me or is everyone sick of that Ben Franklin guy?") and concludes another by bringing on three street musicians he happened to see walking around earlier in the day.
It's only natural, however, in such a dull and lazily-directed film as this that it's Galifianakis we see the least of. In the end, director Michael Blieden seems oddly more interested in showcasing the quartet's ability to crack each other up in diners, vans, and hotel rooms than in making audiences (those watching the performers as well as those watching the film) laugh.