The Comedy

Dec 4, 2012

Not "comedy" as we know it.

The Comedy
Grade: B-
Director: Rick Alverson
Screenplay: Alverson, Robert Donne, Colm O’Leary
Cast: Tim Heidecker
Rating: NR
Runtime: 94 min.
by John DeSando

In The Comedy, Swanson (Tim Heidecker) roams his little part of Manhattan looking for meaning largely from outrageous confrontations, be it with fellow slackers, workers at his dad’s mansion, or an aimless waitress (Kate Lyn Sheil) with a wicked mouth. Most of his episodes are mired in boredom except occasionally, as in the case of that waitress, who has an epileptic fit while he watches indifferently.

Director Rick Alverson sets the mood in an early scene where Swanson verbally abuses a male nurse about “nurse school” and prolapsed anuses. Swanson is an existential mess, a wandering trust-fund hipster seeking identity in a series of mock-serious escapades that will not allow him to mature or accept normalcy. And as for sincerity, that’s not in this slacker’s experience, except maybe when he combs his dying father’s hair.

He’s a hipster gone to pot, so to speak, an outlier whose ironic take on life gets him little reward and only hollow love. But irritating people with irony is something hipsters do, and he does it depressingly well for him and us as well. As a satire of the wealthy class and those scions who grow up uselessly, the film occasionally succeeds.

The Comedy is, as you can tell, not in the least comedic as pop culture requires, but it does display part of the human comedy in an unattractive, almost comatose thirty-something hell bent to gross out the rest of humanity.  He succeeds for the limited audiences that will scratch their heads to ask what it’s all about (the film and life itself). 

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at
He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel and Idol Chatter.
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