The connection between stand-up comedy and sadness has long been apparent, and what we see of these performers onstage is almost never the full story. For a more lighthearted examination of this than, say, the documentary “Misery Loves Comedy,” consider the trailer for “Dying Laughing” — a nonfiction look at the failures that preceded the successes of Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Jerry Lewis and more.
“Comedy is purely a result of your ability to withstand self-torture,” says Seinfeld as it opens. Lewis, meanwhile, points out that audiences can always tell the difference between a rehearsed joke and something spontaneous that “comes from the heart.” None of them are exempt from bad nights and hecklers, of course, and Kevin Hart — by many metrics the most successful comic in the world at the moment — recounts being told to his face that he had no potential as a stand-up comedian.
Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Jamie Foxx and Garry Shandling (RIP) also appear in the documentary, which is due in theaters and on demand courtesy of Gravitas Ventures on February 24.