I am feeling some difficulty in choosing movies these days. Between Oscar watching and then Festival participation, my viewing has been largely prescribed for months and I had forgotten the paralyzing feel that looking at a streaming service can give. Regardless I found an interesting one for tonight’s viewing.
The Comedy (2012, Dir. Rick Alverson)
Despite what the title may indicate, The Comedy is anything but. Instead, Rick Alverson creates a modern tragedy by exploring the life of a man who uses ironic comedy as a nihilistic crutch. This comedy while may have served him well in the college as a juvenile defense against a world he was unprepared for, at 35 these mean jokes are a means to an end, and he can only feign temporary contentment.
Time Heidecker is fabulous as the lead Swanson. He manages to capture the shallow enjoyment from the character’s prank-based humor with the deep loneliness and misery that consumes him when he is on his own. Alverson and Heidecker combine to create a damming view on the nihilism that the South Park era has embraced. The life outlook that comes from using cruel humor as an expression of self and preferment deflection. While Swanson may get the occasional laugh, he is more likely to get groans from his friends or the cops called on him by strangers. He may think that he is comedian, but in reality, he is just a pathetic and lonely man.