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-Rick Alverson / US, 2015

Rick Alverson, director of the slacker satire The Comedy, turns his eye on the phenomenon of the standup comedian. Neil Hamburger, ‘the world’s worst comic’ tours the club circuit – his miserable performances take him all over America. Part of Looking for America: The Road Is Life.

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To say that Hamburger has a limited repertoire is an understatement; virtually every joke he cracks begins with the standard opening phrase “What is…?” and “Why…”?”. The audience is generally not amused.

In his fourth feature film Alverson paints a darkly comic portrait of a man who is a drifter-dropout – that typically American class of professionals who move from gig to gig without much hope of success, spending the night in one dungy motel after the other.

That Hamburger doesn”t give up in spite of his exuberant lack of success is impressive; his embarrassing performances mean more to him than just a livelihood, they are his way of expressing himself. Alverson manages to inspire sympathy for Hamburger”s dogged determination, even though the comedian himself is a hardly compassionate, perhaps even slightly repulsive character. He is who he is; he can”t reinvent himself.

Rick Alverson (1971) is an independent filmmaker from Richmond, Virginia. Entertainment was previously selected for the Sundance Film Festival and premieres in the Netherlands at EYE. In addition to directing feature films, Alverson produced video clips for artists like Sharon Van Etten and Bonny Prince Billy, and he also plays music with his band Spokane. His earlier film The Comedy is also featured in the programme.

“An Odyssey through a soulless American nowhere" (Variety)

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-Rick Alverson

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Looking for America

This autumn Eye is taking an inquisitive look at the United States. How does the age-old ideal of a ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ relate to the difficult reality of today?

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