AFF2012: ‘The Bitter Buddha’
Comic's comic Eddie Pepitone is still hungry for his big break
By Kimberley Jones,
10:00AM, Sat. Oct. 20, 2012
Buddha belly. Bitter man.
The belly is that of a late night owl nearing senior citizenry. The bitterness... Well, chalk that up to decades in the trenches, doing good work in his field, becoming an inner-circle darling, but still a dud in terms of commercial recognition.
Steven Feinartz’s engaging doc follows comedian Eddie Pepitone – still hustling, still waiting for his big break. The alt-comedy glitterati – Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, B.J. Novak – sing his praises to the camera (well, and get a few good digs in, too), but so far, Eddie Pepitone isn’t in the same neighborhood – hell, even the same state – in terms of name recognition. And that has made him bitter... and that is counteracted by his meditation and vegan lifestyle... and that is counteracted by palpable rage, fairly radiating off him both onstage and in day to day life.
Feinartz shifts the focus between Pepitone’s stand-up (very funny) and the talking-head testimonials (also very funny), the mundanities of Pepitone’s private life and lively, illustrative animation work by Allen Mezquida that caricaturizes Pepitone’s angry-man tics and sad-man’s dark eye circles, but also crystallizes what is so potent, and sometimes so pitiable, about the man.
The arc is perhaps predictable – the action builds toward a climactic show in New York that for Pepitone marks a significant uptick in his profile and also the chance to prove himself to an emotionally distant father. Still: Just because we’ve seen a guy work through daddy issues before doesn’t make it any less moving when father and son leak tears in tandem.
The Bitter Buddha screens Saturday, Oct. 20, 7pm, Austin Convention Center - Meeting Room 18, and Monday, Oct. 22, 7pm, at the Alamo Drafthouse Village, with Feinartz and Pepitone in attendance.