Comic relief

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights—Hollywood to the Heartland
Starring Vince Vaughn. Directed by Ari Sandel. Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated R.
Rated 3.0

I can’t remember the last time I watched stand-up and truly laughed. Probably not since I saw the late Mitch Hedberg in Vegas a few years back. Apparently there are a few up-and-comers worth noting, however, as Vince Vaughn has so nicely shown us in his Wild West Comedy Show.

The documentary follows Vaughn and four young comedians—Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst and Sebastian Maniscalco—on a 30-day bus trip around the United States. Each night marks a different show in a different location. Snippets of the shows are interspersed with commentary from Vaughn and interviews with the comedians, and they all lead up to in-depth looks at each of the men’s family and background and an extended clip of his standup routine.

The comedy itself hits more than it misses, with a few bits—such as Ernst’s childhood memory of the roller-skating rink—leaving me nearly in tears. But the film is clearly about more than just the comedy (although it plays out as Vaughn’s opportunity to further the careers of these four men); it’s also about the lives of comedians in general, which are not always as cheerful as their jobs suggest.

Because the actual tour took place in the summer of 2005, the comedians come head-to-head with Hurricane Katrina, which adds some perspective to the film that otherwise might have been lacking.

In the end, the documentary feels a bit like it belongs on a TV screen rather than the theater, but it certainly got more laughs than many other comedies I’ve seen lately. The running time is also long—it could have been cut down by eliminating some unnecessary Vaughn scenes and cameos, which are fun to watch but could be relegated to DVD extras.