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‘Funny Pains’ (review)

Executive Produced by Princeton Holt,
Krystyna Hutchinson, Pablo Minier, Tahuanty Pena,
Margarita Perez, Daria Scoccimarr

Produced and Directed by Jorgy Cruz
Featuring Wendi Starling, Krystyna Hutchinson,
Nikki Glaser, Bonnie McFarlane, Jim Norton,
Yamaneika Saunders, Andrew Schulz,
Rich Vos, Mehran Khaghani


Flawed, somewhat aimless documentary about comedian Wendi Starling’s pursuit of standup comedy.

I’m a huge fan of docs about standups: JERRY SEINFELD COMEDIAN, GILBERT and DYING LAUGHING among them.

So I was quite looking forward to FUNNY PAINS.

Starling is an interesting subject, as she is bipolar and she admits she has a lot of baggage.

The film starts out well, as Starling relates her past and details her daily routine of waking up early to work at her day job, quick shower and change, go to the comedy club to do her set, go to the gym, get a few hours sleep, repeat.

We also get to hang out with some of her friends and peers, such as Nikki Glaser, Jim Norton, Bonnie McFarlane and others.

These scenes are interesting, with tales of life on the road, comparisons between New York and LA audiences, and detailed and general outlooks on the standup life.

There is also some nice intercutting between Starling dealing with an unresponsive crowd and her explaining later how she deals with that both externally and internally.

There is a somewhat harrowing chapter involving the time she was raped at her friend’s wedding, how she dealt with it and how she incorporates it into her act, as well as the reactions from audiences and peers.

There are other fascinating moments throughout. Unfortunately, the creeping realization at around the halfway mark that director Jorgy Cruz doesn’t really have an overall point starts to erode interest.

Composer Juango Davalos seems to sense this, as his heretofore spare score is laid on thick almost non-stop through the second half of the film.
It’s one of those scores (usually in documentaries) that are pet peeves of mine: quiet yet insistent, sentimental and desperate to create some emotion scene to scene which winds up sounding like Muzak.

Starling is an appealing and interesting figure, however, so I would recommend the film to see her journey, and for the good moments interspersed throughout.

I do wish more had been done with the film, as I felt by the time the end credits rolled, Cruz just seemed to have wanted to make a Starling promo piece with some admittedly edgy and effective moments.


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