Poor Orny Adams. Sure, he's the featured comic opposite Jerry Seinfeld in last year's sleeper documentary Comedian
, which should have given him more exposure than money could buy. And sure, director Christian Charles spends a whole third of the film on the intense, confident Adams, chronicling the methods in which he creates his material to his front-page performance at the Montreal Comedy Festival, culminating in his appearance on Late Night With David Letterman
and ultimate exodus to L.A. with a Warner Bros. development deal. Not bad, huh? See if you still think so after you see the humble, depressing, 21/2-minute short included in the disc's special features showing where the young comic is now, two years later: wounded by a development deal that went bust, masking depression, and stuck out in L.A. While one could easily argue that Adams probably dug his own grave by acting like a pompous little louse in just about every on-camera interview, I still find myself, for some strange reason, feeling sympathy for the guy. Call it big-hearted suspicion. Why, you ask? Because the other two-thirds of the film are a charming, hilarious portrait of Seinfeld's post-sitcom life as he tries to "rebuild" his act with all new material. For instance, he takes a private jet from comedy show to comedy show; schmoozes advice from his big comedian friends like Colin Quinn, Chris Rock, and Gary Shandling; and discusses the deeper artistic mindset of a comedian as he cruises Manhattan in his Porsche. This offsets beautifully against Adams' overinflated dreams of money and fame, the dreams of a talent who gorges his ego with every meal of praise. Could executive producer Jerry Seinfeld have had anything to do with such editing extremes? Few could (or would) say for sure. Yet the subtle ruthlessness lying just below the surface in Comedian
is exactly what director Charles and producer Gary Streiner might have been trying to show. The true gem of the film comes near the beginning, where Adams is bumped from stage because Seinfeld has "coincidentally" (according to the commentary) shown up at the same club. They meet for the first time, blatantly dislike each other, and then a fascinating scene ensues in which Seinfeld shares a wonderful vignette about the showbiz lifestyle. To paraphrase: It's cold, it's brutal, and you have to love every minute of it. Or, my personal favorite: "It's not show friends, it's show business." A pity that Adams had to learn this lesson the hard way.