THE PROBLEM: We don't care how confusing the
map is-Mahattan's an island that's like three miles wide.
If you can't figure out how to drive in a single direction for five fucking
minutes until you see water, then take a left or a right until you find
a bridge, you don't deserve the money you've stolen, Magellan.
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (2005)
THE PITCH: Academy Award nominated American
actor, writer, comedian and director Albert Brooks stars in a documentary
about comedy and foreign cultures!
PAYOFF: Like most of Albert Brooks' comedies, Looking For Comedy
is an unbelievably interesting premise that stumbles to its knees through
its execution. In a landscape as xenophobic as America post 9/11, the
idea of a documentary examining what makes other cultures laugh should
have been a slam dunk, delivering a feel-good "We're not so different
after all" message with plenty of fish-out-of-water laughs along
the way. Except it's not a documentary. It's a scripted comedy
with a sitcom-ready premise.
Yeah. Didn't make any sense to us, either.
THE PROBLEM: What should have been a thought-provoking
study as to whether comedy is a universal phenomenon or defined by its
culture ends up being an embarrassing lesson in how profoundly not
funny Albert Brooks is any more. In his many stand-up routines in
front of a Muslim audience, it's true, nobody's laughing. The problem
is, nobody was laughing in the American theater I watched this in either.
A more accurate title for Finding Comedy in the Muslim World might
have been Watch Albert Brooks Suck the Laughter Out of a Room for
an Hour and a Half. Good God, just look at the picture of Brooks
with the puppet up there. Doesn't that make you cringe just looking at