Dying Laughing Might Be the Comedy Documentary My Fractured Sanity Requires

There has been precious little laugh about in the past year, so when I watched the trailer for Dying Laughing, I was initially unsure what was happening to me. Was I having a stroke? Was this the sound of my soul fleeing the earthbound shackles of my body? There’s a moment in Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater where an old man laughs for the first time in years:

“A bark came out of Fish, sounding like a noise coming out of a cave. Must be what he remembers of a laugh.”


The trailer is not overtly hilarious, but it does give you a taste of the crushing misery endemic to the career of every comedian—torture and death are invoked no less than six times in the course of the two minute excerpt. I did bark quietly when Sarah Silverman replicated with perfect accuracy the sound of a cartoon bomb dropping, as well as Jamie Foxx deadpanning about how rich he is. It felt good to bark-laugh, even if a little bit of dust and some spiders did puff out of my esophagus as a result.

As the film’s creators, Paul Toogood and Lloyd Stanton, told Variety:

“Over two years, as the film began to emerge from the thousands of miles traveled and hundreds of hours or interviews, we learned about the physical and emotional dedication that it takes to become a stand-up comedian, and that the prospect of failure haunts even the most experienced and celebrated practitioners. We hope that the audience will find the final piece as touching, thought-provoking, inspirational and as funny as we do.”

It’s true that the universe is not wanting for films on the slow-breaking existential horror that is life as a stand-up comedian, but when you have Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, Jamie Foxx, Garry Shandling, Billy Connolly, Steve Coogan, Cedric The Entertainer, Mike Epps, Eddie Izzard, Jerry Lewis, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Keenen Ivory Wayans and MORE talking about all the chairs that have been thrown at their faces over the course of their ultimately illustrious careers, well, sign me up.

Dying Laughing will be in theaters and on demand on February 26.



I tried standup a half-dozen or so years ago. Had my ass and heart handed back to me almost every time. The cast iron ego required to pound away at it night after night, year after year... these folks are the most resilient motherfuckers on the planet.

Besides Hillary Clinton, God love her.