Open Mic
Dave Chappelle, Richard Jeni, Jackie Martling
Starring Dan Aubrey and Butch Bradley
A Jason Dudek Film
Ark Distribution 2004
54 minutes

Open Mic is a behind-the-scenes documentary about the stand-up comedy business. Although some of the technical flaws, such as the background music being as loud as the person being interviewed and some shots being rather grainy, do get in the way, this movie is strong enough to make you overlook them. Director Jason Dudek follows to young unknown comedians, Butch Bradley in Los Angeles and Dan Aubrey in Miami, as they try to get stage time, recognition, and laughs.

The scenes with Bradley and Aubrey are interspersed with short interview clips with a who’s who of the comedy business such as the always interesting Richard Jeni, Charles Fleischer, Bobcat Goldthwait “The rules of comedy are . . . try not to suck.”, Shawn Wayans, Jim Breuer, David Chappelle, Dom Irrera, and Victoria Jackson whose story about getting “the” phone call is really funny.

What the comedy club veterans have to say is quite interesting and fair warning to any young comic. Chappelle compares open mic nights to working in a sweatshop and he is not wrong. Club owner Jamie Masada (Laugh Factory) tells one comic, George, he will be a regular, the young hopeful calls his family to tell them the good news, and then Masada doesn’t return George calls ever. This is one guy you should be careful about. Everything he says in this documentary is more self-serving than interesting.

One of the stars of Open Mic is Dan Aubrey, a pasty, low-energy comedian who, on a blind date, is told, “You’re a comedian but you’re not a funny person.” Give the guy credit for not only trying to get this blind date to pay for her drink but for hanging in there and letting Dudek roll as everything that can possibly go wrong does.

The other star is young rising (though at the time he was just young) standup Butch Bradley. You definitely have to cheer for him when he gets “the call” in his totally unfurnished and bare L.A. pad. A little research reveals although this documentary film was released in 2004, the footage dates back to 2000 as the tag line at the end of it telling you what happened to Aubrey and Bradley refers to events in 2001.

Open Mic, flaws and all, including a long scene of a pasty, hairy, white guy doing pushups and setups in his boxers, is a fascinating and generally well done (story wise) documentary that any young comic and fan of stand-up comedy should see at least once.


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