Upon writing this review of the documentary Alone Up There I realized that two types of people will ultimately watch it; comedians and non-comedians. Or as I have heard it described before, stand-ups and civilians. I understand that using the term “civilian” is a tad condescending… but it makes me, a stand-up comic, feel cool and important (even though I am not). So for the love of God, just let me have this moment. In this review I will do my best to address both sides.
If you have ever considered writing and performing stand-up this is the film to watch! If you don’t really know anything about comedy Alone Up There does a good job of explaining the roots of stand-up, from its humble days in Vaudeville, to the era of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Richard Pryor, up through the infamous comedy boom of the 80’s and the comedy crash in the 90’s before finishing off with present day.
It’s a brief overlook of decades of stand-up history. It gives those who are curious a taste of comedic landmarks. The films purpose isn’t to be a historical documentary, so it works to educate without boring. What Alone Up There does incredibly well is explain to viewers the hardships, frustrations and difficulty of being a stand-up along with the immense pleasure and pride that comes from making people laugh.
What stand-ups do is incredibly hard yet incredibly rewarding and the documentary balances these two things nicely. If you are considering doing comedy for your first time this documentary will not in anyway sugar coat the difficulties you are going to face and that’s what makes it beautiful.
Upon watching this film I couldn’t help but feel an immense sense of pride for what I do. Now don’t get me wrong; I am in no way, shape or form a “working comic”. In the grand scheme of the comedy world I am a bottom of the barrel open mic’er, but still, throughout watching this film I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Hell yeah, that’s what I do!”
Whether the comedians being interviewed are describing pleasure or pain, any comic watching this documentary will enjoy their answers simply because they are detailing all the emotions a comedian goes through. Also, there are some pretty big names in this film (i.e. Marc Maron, Eddie Peppitone and Eddie Brill) along with some relatively unknowns, and it’s really enjoyable to listen to people who aren’t necessarily household names, but are hardworking, touring, workhorse comics.
I found myself more interested in these lesser known comedians’ viewpoints and opinions because nine times out of ten when a comedy documentary comes out it’s all household names, so Alone Up There really offers up a plethora of opinions, ideologies and philosophies from comedians who are at different points in their careers.
Whether you’re a comic or not, Alone Up There will offer the viewer an in-depth, realistic and somewhat harsh view of what being a stand-up entails, which is great because it truly is a brutal world. I strongly recommend it for any fans of comedy.
About the Author: Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, Greenest state in the land of the free. Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree, Killed him a bear when he was only three. I also like stand up comedy. (OHHH that rhymed!) Also, follow me on twitter @LouMisiano1