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All Joking Aside

USA 2020
produced by
Jon Ornoy, Brian Markinson (executive), Thomas Pickering (executive), Shannon Kohli (executive) for Animal Mother Films
directed by Shannon Kohli
starring Raylene Harewood, Brian Markinson, Richard Lett, Tanya Jade, Katrina Reynolds, Cedric Ducharme, Trevor Horne, Javier Lacroix, Vicki Passmore, David Lewis, Larke Miller, Pam Kearns, Joseph Gallaccio, Nikki Wallin, Selina Loum, Frank Brandies, Graeme Thompson, Kirk M Wilson, Aaron Roderick, Michelle Choi-Lee, Damonde Tschritter, Shelene Yung, Heather Feeney, Julia Tortolano, Derek Gerard, Megan Pereira, Josh Hill, Dave 'Squatch' Ward, Brandon Bagg, Melanie Rees, Evan Markinson
written by James Pickering, music by David Ramos

review by
Mike Haberfelner

It has always been Charlene's (Raylene Harewood) biggest dream to become a stand-up comedian - but then, when she hits the stage for the first time, she's interrupted by Bob (Brian Markinson), a heckler, who won't give up until she storms off the stage. He's later removed from the club, but it's too late for her. Charlene later checks with the club owner (Richard Lett) and learns from him that Bob once has been a bigshot on the stand-up circus himself, but an altercation with a heckler ended his career. Charlene puts two and two together and figures that if she wants to continue to follow her dreams, she needs training - from Bob. She manages to track Bob down before long, and eventually gets his attention by constantly heckling him, and when she offers him quite a bit of money, he wills in to guide and mentor her. But at her first set, she totally tanks, simply because she had exactly the same jokes like everyone else. And this is when Bob's mentoring really takes hold as he teaches her to develop her own persona while remaining relatable to the crowd. And during their sessions together, Charlene starts to see through his cynical facade and learn more about Bob as well - and it seems that while they're preparing for Charlene's first big gig, they also grow personally. But somehow Bob's cynic alter ego eventually shines through again and he destroys their both professional and personal relationship with only days to the gig. Thing is, Charlene might have been Bob's last chance to vindicate himself, while it's less than certain that she will succeed at the gig without Bob in her corner ...

 

A drama about comedy sounds like a contradiction in terms - but in the case of All Joking Aside, it sure works. That's thanks to a light-footed approach that allows for punchlines even when things are grim. And that the lead characters are totally relatable (even despite Bob's cynic attitude) of course helps as well, and makes their conflicts palpable, even if it's unlikely that everybody in the audience is a stand-up. Now add to this a directorial effort that approaches both comedy and drama with the same kind of subtlety, and two strong lead performances, and you've got yourself a pretty cool movie.

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

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produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD