Hosted by Boston comic Fran Solomita, When Stand Up Stood Out is a detailed retrospective of the historic comedy boom that took the city by storm from the late 70’s to the early 80’s. You get the impression it was a fun crowd to be with most of the time. From the famous Ding Ho to the Comedy Connection, some of the nation’s biggest names worked out their routines to the local audiences.
The documentary tells its story very simply. With the use of extensive narrative, vintage clips, and countless interviews, you get a rather complete history of the phenomenon. To the film’s credit, there is as much time spent on the relatively unknowns who worked the circuit as it does with the eventual big names like Bobcat Goldthwait, Denis Leary, Steven Wright, and others. While this might not lead to as much mainstream success, it certainly adds a touch more honesty to the piece. The language is rough, and not a problem so long as you expect it. This is not a family entertainment video. You have to admire the brutal honesty on subjects such as drugs and competitive jealousies that began when Steven Wright was the first to crack the elusive Johnny Carson Show.
The full screen presentation is as faithful as possible to the vintage footage provided. Remember that most of this was shot by amateurs at comedy clubs with equipment available to the general public in the late 70’s. The interview clips are filmed with better equipment but certainly don’t shine here. Colors often run and are often oversaturated. None of this really takes away from the documentary style attempted here.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is just as varied. You can barely hear some of these routines. Again the problem is vintage source material that was not made for broadcast. Still, it’s a joy to see and hear. I’m sure if you’re from Boston during that time this will be a welcome walk down memory lane.
“Flashback With Dane Cook” is a 7 minute interview with Cook. He talks about his first experiences on this circuit and some of the crazy moments he had just trying to get on.
“More Stand Up” This is another 6 minutes of the reunion show that the film ends with. I guess you can look at it as deleted scenes.
“Classic Meaney On The Streets” is a little more of the traffic stopping antics of Meaney featured in the film. It reminds me of a Letterman schtick.
“The Making Of When Stand Up Stood Out” follows Fran and his crew and shows us the great time they had making the film. It’s the longest of the features and is worth the 15 minutes. Trailers round out the bonus materials.
Good stand up defies description or definition. Like the famous Supreme Court declaration on obscenity: I know it when I see it. I can’t tell you what makes me laugh. I either do or I don’t. Some of this stuff made me laugh. Some of it didn’t. What’s more important is that I was not aware of the rich history and community that is to be found here. I didn’t know that any of these guys came out of Boston. The epilogue does seem to indicate few of these guys remain in New England. I love history, so I enjoyed this one. And when history can make you laugh? Well, why the hell not. If you’re like me, “I just wanna laugh my ass off.”