Directed by: Ari Sandel
Premise: A documentary film about a comedy show headlined by actor Vince Vaughn that traveled across Western and Midwestern America in 2005, putting on thirty shows in thirty days. The show featured up and coming comics Ahmed Ahmed, Bret Ernst, Sebastian Maniscalco, Keir O’Donnell, and John Caparulo.
What Works: Wild West Comedy Show is a smartly organized film, starting with Vaughn setting up the legacy of the traveling comedy show that he is trying to invoke, and stopping along the journey to incorporate parts of the American landscape. In one of the best parts of the film, the comedians stop at a refugee camp days after Hurricane Katrina and pass out free tickets. The film is less about the show as it is a character study of the comedians on tour and a look into the affect comedy has on the audience. As that, the film works and some of its interviews with family members of the performers are revealing. The best material in the film comes from scenes in the tour bus, which takes on the look and feel of a frat house, as these men live in close contact with each other and share in the difficulties of such an intense schedule.
What Doesn’t: Because the film is a documentary about the comics and their journey through these thirty shows, it only gives slivers of the stage acts themselves. As a result, the film is not as funny as might be expected from a documentary featuring comedians. The film gets a bit repetitious in parts, covering and recovering material from the performer’s routines such as Ahmed’s references to his experiences as an Arab American.
Bottom Line: Wild West Comedy Show is an average showbiz documentary. It is not as funny as The Aristocrats nor is it as interesting as Crumb but it does manage to keep the energy up and make a complete portrayal of these entertainers.
Episode: #179 (February 17, 2008)