“The Business of Comedy”

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 28th, 2013

The Halves of the Staff are featured in the new documentary by Scott Sobel and Gary Licker called “The Business of Comedy,” available now on Hulu.com.

Ever wondered how the business (the standup comedy business) became what it is today? What’s that? You didn’t know it was a business? It’s an art form? You don’t have to be bothered with all that crass business stuff because you’re the funniest cat in East Bumfuck and you’re stuffing all your earthly belongings into the Honda Civic and headed to Hollywood and, well, it’s only a matter of time before you’re buying a Lamborghini with cash because it’s obvious to any/all that you’re the biggest sensation comedy-wise since Yahoo Serious? Okay. That’s one approach, we suppose.

Another approach is to learn how the business got this way and strategize accordingly. And get your mind right. And watching this documentary helps. A lot. We suppose that quite a few documentaries on standup have briefly touched on the nuts and bolts, the dollar signs, the various paths to success that comics have taken over the years. But they dispose of the “boring” biz stuff quickly in order to get back to the glamour and the glitz or the suicide or the heartache or the giggling hijinx in the hotel room. None takes an unblinking, ceaseless look at the business like this one does. It’s a standup comedy hi$tory le$$on. (It makes a great companion to Jimmy Walker’s “Dynomite!: Good Times, Bad Times, Our Times–A Memoir,” in which Walker affords readers a better than average peek into the early days of the comedy boom, television, Los Angeles and the road.)

Clocking in at 48:16, it moves quickly and seems shorter. We wish it had been turned into a mini-series!