Funnyman (1967)

funnyman1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Being funny isn’t funny.

Peter Bonerz, who also co-wrote the script along with director John Korty, plays Perry a struggling comedian working with the famous San Francisco improvisational group The Committee who is finding that life onstage isn’t as fulfilling as he had thought. The story focuses on his many different relationships and behind-the-scenes activities as he searches for some meaning to what he does.

The film is a loosely based look at Bonerz’s own experiences during his time with the group. It has a definite cinema vertite feel and look, which helps accentuate the improv attitude. Some of the situations he goes through do indeed help shed light for the viewer as to the difficulties of the profession particularly the part where Bonerz and a friend stay up late one night trying to brainstorm a creative ad campaign for a bug spray and finally do manage to come up with something clever only to have it frustratingly nixed by the client over concerns that it may possibly offend their targeted audience.

I also found it interesting to see how much things have changed in regards to casual affairs and relationships as Bonerz is seen meeting woman for the first time and then going back to their place for sex and in one instance having the woman go off to work and leave him still in bed at her place without seemingly any concern about him being a potential psycho or thief.

Bonerz, who is probably best known for playing the Jerry Robinson character in ‘The Bob Newhart Show’ does well in the lead and I was impressed with his variety of voices and characterizations. However, the many skits that they do, which were filmed onstage in front of an audience weren’t all that funny or engaging. The only one that is mildly humorous involves a bit with Richard Stahl describing a new robot (played by Bonerz) that is programmed to be used as a peace demonstrator during campus protests.

Korty’s over-direction doesn’t help as too much emphasis is put on mood over substance. His attempts to instill an existential slant to the material falls flat and his use of shooting each scene with a different color filter is distracting and ultimately annoying. The final twenty minutes veers too much away from the main story as the Bonerz character decides to take a vacation at an isolated retreat where he gets into a relationship with a nude model, which meanders and is not compelling or interesting.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: September 23, 1967

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Not Rated

Director: John Korty

Studio: Korty Films

Available: None at this time.

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