Misery Loves Comedy

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Misery Loves Comedy Movie Poster Image
Interesting docu about comedians has tons of swearing.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 94 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Honesty is valued, even if what comes out isn't always exactly pretty. But comedy is also sometimes equated with drugs, in that getting laughs becomes like getting high. Teens thinking about becoming entertainers might find some illuminating take-aways here, both encouraging and discouraging.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some of the featured comedians are great, and some offer admirable comments or lessons, but there are so many of them that it's hard to grasp onto any particular individuals as role models.


Discussion of a person who wished to commit suicide but discovered comedy instead.


Some humorous sexual references, including masturbation.


Very frequent use of extremely strong language, especially "f--k," "s--t," and "d--k," plus"c--t," "penis," "idiot," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation). A middle finger gesture.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some comedians discuss their drug and alcohol use and/or addictions. One interviewee went to rehab and then discovered comedy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Misery Loves Comedy is a documentary about whether comedians must suffer in order to be truly funny. More than 60 comedians, writers, and directors are interviewed on the topic. Language is the biggest issue, with very frequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," and "d--k." Interviewees also mention their past struggles with drugs and/or make references to drugs, alcohol, and sex. Suicide is discussed. There are so many interviewees that coherent messages may be lost, but overall the movie values truth and honesty, even if it doesn't always paint a pretty picture. Teens interested in becoming performers might learn a few illuminating lessons from the movie.

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What's the story?

In MISERY LOVES COMEDY, Kevin Pollak interviews more than 60 comedians, comedy writers, and comedy directors about their craft, specifically focusing on the question of where their humor comes from. His main question is whether comedians need to be miserable to be funny. The interview subjects tell various stories and seem to agree on several main points: Many were inspired by their fathers. They love attention. Getting laughs is addictive. Every comedian bombs at some point. And though misery may help certain comedians to be really funny, it's only necessary to have lived life and experienced human emotions to succeed. If a comic can convey truth to an audience, then he or she can get the biggest laughs of all.

Is it any good?

Misery Loves Comedy probably isn't as funny as you might expect it to be. While they're being interviewed, the featured comedians are all off duty and aren't there to make jokes. They're there to be honest. The biggest question is how much mainstream audiences will care about what they have to say. How will their innermost psyches and their need to make people laugh translate? Frankly, to enjoy this movie, it will probably help if you're a comedian, an aspiring comedian, or someone who particularly loves comedy.

But casual viewers will find nothing more than a parade of talking heads. The sheer number of them will necessarily give short shrift to certain favorites, some of whom only appear for a minute or two (Mike Birbiglia, sadly, is one of them). Also, the number of interviewees dilutes whatever argument Pollak tries to make. Overall, though, the interviewees' general openness and honesty makes them an appealing bunch -- and worth spending time with.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how comedy seems to have come to the rescue of many people who were suicidal or drug abusers. How do you think could this happen? Why do people often fall back on comedy in times of sadness or other serious emotions?

  • Being on stage and getting laughs is sometimes equated with using drugs. How do some of the comedians deal with this "addiction"?

  • How do some of the comedians deal with being rejected, i.e. "bombing" on stage?

  • How do the comedians answer the question of whether or not they need to be miserable in order to be funny?

Movie details

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For kids who love comedy

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