At first, a documentary about Jerry Seinfeld's return to stand-up comedy sounds like a can't-miss proposition. But when first-time feature filmmakers Christian Charles and Gary Streiner embarked on the project almost two years ago, things didn't seem that simple. "We had no idea what was going to happen," says Streiner. "The question was 'Is this a viable film? Is this something that would hold people's interest?'"
They'll find out when Comedian opens today in limited release. The film follows the Seinfeld star as he develops a new stand-up act, essentially from scratch. Highlights include his trips to comedy clubs to test material, and bull sessions with fellow comics like Chris Rock and Garry Shandling. But don't expect an Anna Nicole-esque play-by-play of Seinfeld's day. "We filmed him working," Streiner stresses, "not his personal life."
Ironically, he adds that this emphasis on work initially made Seinfeld wary of committing to the film. "I think from Jerry's point of view, he was curious whether or not this would really be entertaining for anyone. For him, it was really difficult work. There wasn't much glamour in it."
The only reason Seinfeld didn't reject the idea outright was his longstanding personal and professional relationship with the duo, who previously collaborated on his popular series of American Express ads. "I think the thing we're most proud of is the intimacy of the film," says Charles. "It's really based on friendship more than anything else."
Hopefully, Comedian is as funny as its trailer, which has had moviegoers in hysterics since it first hit screens in August. The preview features the hilarious acting debut of veteran voice-over artist Hal Douglas, whose familiar, rumbling baritone has graced almost every trailer released in the past few years. Raves Charles: "Hal is so compelling, it amazes me that he hasn't done more acting!"