The Comedy (film)

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The Comedy
The Comedy poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRick Alverson
Produced byMike S. Ryan
Brent Kunkle
Written byRick Alverson
Robert Donne
Colm O'Leary
StarringTim Heidecker
Eric Wareheim
James Murphy
Gregg Turkington
Kate Lyn Sheil
Alexia Rasmussen
Jeff Jensen
CinematographyMark Schwartzbard
Edited byRick Alverson
Michael Taylor
Greyshack Films
Glass Eye Pix
Made Bed Productions
Distributed byTribeca Film (USA)Bread Harrity Children's Productions
Release date
  • January 21, 2012 (2012-01-21) (Sundance Film Festival)
VOD: Oct 24, 2012; Theatrical: Nov 9, 2012
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Comedy is a 2012 metamodern film directed and co-written by Rick Alverson, and starring Tim Heidecker. Supporting actors include Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric), James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), and Gregg Turkington (better known as Neil Hamburger). The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival [1] and screened within such festivals as Maryland Film Festival 2012. The film was distributed by Tribeca Film and was slated for theatrical release on November 9, 2012 and nationwide On Demand starting October 24, 2012.[2]

Despite the title and use of comedians as actors, Sundance festival chief programmer Trevor Groth says that the film is not a comedy, but instead "a provocation, a critique of a culture based at its core around irony and sarcasm and about ultimately how hollow that is."[3]

The first ten minutes of the film was purposely leaked onto various torrent websites with an anti-piracy statement at the end of the video. The resulting publicity made the actual film the most pirated independent film of the year.[citation needed]


Swanson (Tim Heidecker) is an upper class New Yorker who alternately feels apathy and resentment to his surroundings. He lives on a boat and spends his time partying and wandering around the city with his hipster friends, humorlessly lampooning and mocking various strangers they encounter. As of the beginning of the film, Swanson's father is comatose, and he is set to inherit his estate, as his brother is in rehab. The film has no clear narrative, instead showing individual scenes of Swanson's behavior as he improvises in situations to make strangers and acquaintances uncomfortable. Swanson and his friends ridicule one man, Cargill (Jeff Jensen), who shows vulnerability while saying they are important to him. Cargill continues hanging out with them regardless. Swanson takes a girl onto his boat from a party, and becomes fascinated with pulling on her eyelids later when she is sleeping. He visits a bar in a poor neighborhood with a primarily African American customer base, flaunts his wealth, and eagerly predicts the bar will soon be gentrified. At one point, Swanson pays a cab driver 400 dollars to let him drive, then speeds recklessly and harasses a woman from the driver's seat, leaving the cabbie to deal with the fallout. On a whim, Swanson takes a part-time job as a dishwasher. His extremely sarcastic sense of humor attracts a waitress, who he takes onto his boat. While undressing, she suffers a seizure, which Swanson observes with vague interest. Swanson's friend Van (Eric Wareheim) shows the group a slide show of photos from his childhood interspersed with pornographic images as a gag. Despite some initial laughs, the group falls silent and everyone appears saddened, including Van, who solemnly continues the slide show. In the final scene of the film, Swanson visits the beach, where he plays in the water with a young child, an activity he seems to genuinely enjoy.


The film received mixed reviews from critics. It received an aggregate rating of 45% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews,[4] and 46% on Metacritic (indicating "mixed or average reviews").[5] For example, David Lewis of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the film was "one of the most self-indulgent, pretentious and unfunny movies of the year",[6] while Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club gave the film an "A−" rating, writing that "few films have better articulated the limits of irony as a force field against the world".[7] At the 2012 Philadelphia Film Festival, Heidecker was awarded the festival's "Best Actor" prize.

The film had a limited theatrical release, grossing $41,113 in four theaters over eight weeks.[8]


  1. ^ "2012 Sundance Film Festival Announces Films in Competition". Sundance Institute.
  2. ^ "Tim Heidecker Takes the Lead in Full Trailer for Indie 'The Comedy'".
  3. ^ "Sundance Film Festival 2012 lineup". CNN.
  4. ^ "The Comedy".
  5. ^ "The Comedy".
  6. ^ "'The Comedy' movie review: Dreadful". 22 November 2012.
  7. ^ Tobias, Scott. "The Comedy".
  8. ^ "The Comedy (2012) - Box Office Mojo".

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