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Laughs, Donuts, and Focused Fun at 2nd NY Comedy Fest

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire November 2, 1998 at 2:0AM

Laughs, Donuts, and Focused Fun at 2nd NY Comedy Fest
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Laughs, Donuts, and Focused Fun at 2nd NY Comedy Fest

by Joshua Moss




The 2nd annual NY Comedy Film Festival got off to a rousing start last
Wednesday at New York's DGA theater with a number of raucous film
enthusiasts ready for laughter. The relatively small festival was held
on only one screen, an enjoyably focused atmosphere which allowed all
festival attendees to be on the same page at post-screening parties. As
opposed to the "what have you seen?" buzz of larger events, everyone had
seen the same work, and thus made for a more pleasant mingling
environment. And the free Krispy Kreme doughnuts didn't hurt either.


Opening night featured the Cannes sensation, "Waking Ned Devine", an
Irish comedy about a man who wins the lottery in a small Irish village
but suddenly dies, leaving the rest of the villagers to attempt to
pretend he's alive to collect the money. Imagine a sort of "Weekend At
McBernies".


Thursday night featured the New York premiere of "Spin The Bottle" a low
budget ensemble piece in which five old friends return to the Vermont
cabin of their youth and learn how far they've come, and how far they
haven't, in the past ten years. Executive Produced by indie mainstay
Gill Holland, the amusing debut film from writer Amy Sohn and director
Jamie Yerkes was very well received by the audience. "I've only had
seven hours of sleep the last three nights combined!" a weary but
excited Gill announced at the post-screening party, as he headed for the
bar to grab a free cocktail. Gill had driven all the way in from
Connecticut for the screening, where he's shooting his latest film, and
fielded questions along with director Yerkes from the enthusiastic
post-screening audience. "Spin the Bottle" previewed earlier in the
year at the First Look screening series and remains without
distribution.


Audience members at the post-screening parties ranged from the eclectic
to the avant-garde. One filmgoer proudly announced that he was the
designer of the infamous "Mangina", a device that... well, let's just
say a man can wear it around his waist and appear to be a woman. We
shared many a laugh over the fallacies (pun intended) of his invention,
before I lost him in the crowd.


Animator Bill Plympton also showed up, who was at the festival with two
hilarious short films "The Secret Life of a Tree" and "More Sex and
Violence
". Mr. Plympton introduced me to another animator, Corky
Quakenbush, who's name had stuck in my memory from reading the trades
around last year's Sundance (as if I could forget a name like that).
Corky and his lovely wife Linda had flown in from LA for the event, and
so it was with excitement that I returned the next night, as Corky
hosted a series of his low-low-budget animated works. Ranging from
"Davey and Son of Goliath," a serial killer spin on everybody's favorite
animated Christian, to the genius "Clops," a claymation parody of "Cops"
where Gumby is busted for robbing a convenient store, Santa is caught
smuggling coke in his sleigh, and Mr. Potato Head is busted for drinking
and puking on the officers. Clearly inspired work. The audience loved
it, and Corky spoke before each set of screenings and gave away props
from the shorts.


Speaking of animation, ever wonder what happened to "Far Side" creator
Gary Larson? Turns out he's spent the last few years adapting his comic
strip into animated short films, and the 45 minute "Tales From the Far
Side II
" was a light but sometimes uneven trip into the now animated
world of classic "Far Side" jokes. One would've liked a little more new
material from Mr. Larson, but what a pleasure to once again see such
sights as fat children on a trampoline next to an alligator farm, and a
ninja deer taking on twenty deer hunters in a Jackie Chan inspired
action sequence. But what a disappointment that Mr. Larson didn't
attend the festival. Gary, where are you? We missed you. Following
the Larson screening, the festival presented a Q & A with Peter and Bobby
Farrelly, the duo behind "Kingpin" and "There's Something About Mary."


Saturday and Sunday consisted of a combination of low budget features,
"Above Freezing" and "The Waiting Game," and the 1991 documentary on
female comedians, "Wisecracks," with lower budget star-driven films like
Julia Sweeney's "God Said 'Ha'!" and the Urban World film festival
winning "Fakin' Da Funk" starring Margaret Cho and Pam Grier. A variety
of shorts as well, including Griffin Dunne's directorial debut, "The
Duke of Groove
," and Ben Stiller's hilarious 1989 short "Back To
Brooklyn
," starring Colin Quinn.


With a relaxed, laid back atmosphere and the enjoyably stress-free
environment of free donuts, the NY Comedy Film Festival was a
delightful, unpretentious festival experience in which hundreds of
people laughed, only this time not 'at' the films, but 'with' them.


[Joshua Moss is a screenwriter and filmmaker living in New York. He is
currently shopping his screenplay "The Six Dollar Miracle," and is in
pre-production on his first feature film, the slapstick comedy,
"Wankers."]