Monday, June 23, 2008

Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show (2006) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Ahmed Ahmed, Peter Billingsley, Bret Ernst, Sebastian Maniscalco, Keir O’Donnell, John Caparulo, Justin Long
Directed By: Ari Sandel
Released: 2006
Grade: B

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show is a documentary of the 30 day long comedy tour of 30 different shows in 30 different cities. Vince Vaughn heads the tour, but he is mostly using his name to promote and introduce these up and coming comedians from all over the country of different backgrounds. These men are Ahmed, Bret, Sebastian, Keir, and John. Peter Billingsley of A Christmas Story fame and Justin Long make a few guest appearances and even tag along with the rest of the gang on their tour.

All of the comedians had a different style and general subject matter. They were all decently funny. Not everything in their acts worked, but by experiencing that and trying out their material on different audiences of different age groups in each place they were in, they learned what to use and how to use it. As the audience, we see jokes, just a good time. We suspect that it may reflect upon the things that they find funny, or what they think a particular crowd thinks is funny. However, we learn that there is a deeper reasoning to what they are doing on stage. The comedians take their real life experiences and turn them to comedy. They take bad experiences and are able to make them good through this.

Ahmed Ahmed jokes about his name and being Egyptian, but more importantly being from a middle eastern country. A lot of his jokes seem to be representative of the stereotypes, but we find out in his case it is merely truth. His parents were so disapproving of his decision to become an actor and move to Los Angeles that his father refused to talk to him for 7 years. To his parents, the only acceptable careers are doctors, lawyers, engineers, and store owners. This seems what the typical generalization would be, but his father himself even states this. His background has had more severe consequences particularly with his experience with airport security. He was suspected and ended up serving jail time, simply because of the color of his skin. As someone who was raised and grew up in the U.S., but is treated like an enemy rather than a citizen, it can be hard to turn the other cheek. He is able to take this horrible experience, and essential hate crime making him seem like the villain, and turns it in to material for his act. This doesn’t just help his career or help other people laugh, but it is his way to deal with the troubles in his life and to make the bad in to good; something he can laugh and smile about. This is not an easy thing to do, which just highlights his strength.

John Caparulo comes from a suburb of Cleveland, in a not so well off area. His family never had very much money and they still don’t. John wanted to make a success out of himself, but by doing something that he loved and comedy was his way of doing that, for himself, but also for his family. Although, he has a very loving family and his mother seems very caring, she says that she knew John would either be in the entertainment industry, a drug dealer, or in jail. So out of the choices she seemed very pleased with the road that he ended up going down. Taking the high road with comedy and continuously working harder because of it, never giving up, shows his dedication to the art. John’s comedy style seems to reflect this since his act is much more rough than some of the other guys’. Also, it is not quite a lack of confidence, but just feeling that he is far from a girls’ ideal guy, that makes him show less conventional, but still an unashamed sense of himself, making no apologies for being who he is.

Bret Ernst uses the typical gay joke and uses it in a less judgmental and more intelligent way. He does this for his older brother who was gay himself. By doing this he doesn’t degrade him, but actually gives him a voice. Bret grew up being raised by a single mother who was busy working several jobs trying to support the family and wasn’t always around. His brother was more like his father and had recently died from AIDS. Bret’s comedy is like a tribute to him and beyond this, it is his chance to make the most of his life and spend it doing the one thing that he can really find joy in. Sebastian Maniscalco is a proud metro-sexual and adds that in to his routine as well as his habits and outlooks of even the simple things in life.

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show uses a very western feel even in the cities that aren’t in the west. It takes a rugged and country feel at times even reflective upon the live music. Personally, I am not a fan of country music so I could have done without some of these moments, but I still did appreciate the theme of the wild west show that they held through out the movie. Most of the guys were roughin’ it, sleeping in small, close bunk beds stacked upon each other, even though the more famous, Vince Vaughn, has a private room and a king-size bed of course. It is fun to watch the comedians stand-up acts; what works for them, how they handle things, and even their journey from start to finish. The guys also have a chance to be tourists in a way as they explore all of the places they perform at across the country. Ultimately, the most interesting part of the documentary is what the comedians and the families say behind the scenes. We learn where the jokes are coming from and just what they mean to the people telling them. By learning of their background we have a deeper understanding of them and what they are really doing when they get up on stage. It becomes very obvious what they have and are still overcoming to pursue comedy and the love, dedication, and passion that go in to it, driving them more and more each day.

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