The first thing to be said about The Comedy is that it isn’t a comedy. It might make you laugh, but it’s likelier to make you twist in your chair.
The film is the third feature from American Rick Alverson and it follows a group of thirtysomething trust-fund hipsters trapped in a perpetual lo-fi summer haze of arrested development in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The core of the film, which screened at Sundance and the Vancouver Film Festival, is a 35-year-old man-child played by comedian Tim Heidecker, a deadpan Zach Galifianakis for the mumblecore crowd. He lives on a boat in the East River, like a spoiled child on a little island, and spends his days and nights enacting pranks that toe the line between harmless punking and disturbed sadism: Mucking in with a gardening crew next to his father’s suburban estate; tempting a taxi driver to turn over his wheel with the promise of a wad of cash; hitting a hip-hop bar alone on the wrong side of Brooklyn and confronting the regulars with a painful minstrel shtick. It’s a bit like Jackass, if Jackass were crossbred with Truffaut.