Take, for example, Lewis Black’s interview with Misery Loves Comedy’s director, the actor and stand-up Kevin Pollak. “In order to become a comic—pay attention,” Black says, fixing his gaze on Pollak. “You have to enjoy watching yourself die.”
There’s nothing particularly revelatory in hearing someone lay out what it takes to become a comedian, but hearing one comedian make a joke at another’s expense (that’s the “pay attention”) is gold, Jerry! Most of the other performers stick to poking fun at themselves, but if you know Lewis Black, you know he can’t resist poking at anyone.
This week in the paper, we have two documentaries. Normally, Misery Loves Comedy may not receive such high praise, but after sitting through the shorter-but-still-interminable I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, this baby has earned its accolades.
There are, however, things wrong with Misery Loves Comedy beyond the fact that a bunch of comedians sitting in armchairs isn’t eye candy. There are few people of color in this documentary, either as interview subjects or topics of conversation. Richard Pryor naturally gets props from his fellow comics, but that’s about it. There is no Chris Rock or Leslie Jones or Kevin Hart or Dave Chappelle or Paul Mooney or even a mention of Redd Foxx.