The Practice
Kiss My Act

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The Joke Joint is hopping

My apologies to stand up comedians everywhere; I know it's a lost and much-maligned art form, but I just don't get it and don't usually find it funny (unless it's Chris Rock). So, I probably wasn't the best person to recap a saccharine-sweet television movie whose main storyline revolves around a shy bartender wanna-be stand-up comedian caught in some bad Cyrano de Bergerac take-off.

Cue bad jazz-fusion music: "Dooble. Dow. Dweedly. Dwee." Insert Camryn Manheim credit here. The bass is pumping! Dude shaving and saying, "Someone said laughter is the best medicine. They never tried amphetamines." Insert Scott Cohen credit here. One for Alexondra Lee. Cut to shaky camera crap where a guy blows a hair dryer against his face as an impression of an alien. Dude, that's scary, but not in the way you'd like it to be. More credits. More crappy dweeby sounds. Cut to Camryn Manheim, looking nothing, and I mean nothing, like the character Ellenor Frutt she plays on The Practice. Firstly, she's wearing an animal print blouse; secondly, her hair is braided in a couple of places near the front of her face. Thirdly, the braids are wrapped in some sort of ribbon. It might sound bad, but it actually works. Camryn: "I've never been attracted to guys that aren't funny." Pause for comedic timing: "For very long, anyway." Oh, Marlee Matlin's in this movie too. More bad one-liners, followed by more credits. Dabney "The Original Non-King of Comedy" Coleman is also in the movie. Cut to Alexondra Lee on the bus, giggling, "I hate it when a guy paws at me." Giggle. Giggle. "Almost as much as when he keeps a respectful distance." The little old lady on the bus gives her the stink-eye. Some horrible stand-up comic gripes about growing up "beige." More freaking credits. Okay, right now I almost prefer the credits from The Practice. There, you've got thirty seconds of pure hell and then it's over. Kind of like ripping off a Band-Aid stuck to sunburnt skin. Here, the agony of explaining to me that this is a movie about funny people who are supposed to be funny is about as funny as pulling a Band-Aid off of sunburnt skin slowly instead of really fast so you can't avoid the drawn-out aspect of the pain. Throw in the horrible "bleebs" and "dweeps" and "boop-dee-doops" and, well, you get the picture. I'll take this moment to inform you all that Camryn Manheim co-produced this piece of television non-genius.

Okay, we're back to focusing on Camryn, who is opening a beer behind a bar. She's still talking to the magical cameraman filming these short stand-up vignettes. So, according to Camryn, intelligence, warmness, and kindness are "all well and good" but "funny is sexy." This is our cue to actually move inside the movie, where some strange cameraperson-cum-documentary filmmaker totally isn't giving us insight after insight into that ever-strange breed, the stand-up comedian. Dabney Coleman is sitting at the end of the bar. He's yammering on about never meeting a comedian he didn't like. Camryn pours him a shot of Jack Daniels. I know it's only 6 a.m. here in Toronto, but I think I'm going to need one too -- a shot of JD, that is. Not a comedian. Dabney makes some self-deprecating comment that leads me to believe he is the "Norm" of this bar. Then he makes a derogatory remark about the state of comedy today, namely those pesky comedy festivals, and I actually believe he's "Norm." Camryn shoots back, "Sure, it's much more respectable to pimp yourself for five bucks, some cigarettes and free booze." Ah, the younger generation, ensuring that the older generation ends up smack-dab in the middle of that pasture. For a movie about stand-up comedy, these characters sure are stereotypical: a burned-out crabby guy and a wisecracking waitress. Dabney points a finger at Camryn and blathers on about "never having to beg." I'm assuming he means entry to the comedy festival and not the other things they were talking about: cigarettes and booze. Ah, let's throw cheap women in there, just to complete the archetype.

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The Practice

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