A documentary chronicling the stand-up comedy scene in Boston (including both the stars and some of the relative unknowns), director and stand-up Fran Solomita's "When Stand Up Stood Out". While many know of the comedy scenes of New York and Los Angeles, Solomita's documentary also notes that the Boston scene spawned such names as Dennis Leary, Steven Wright, Bobcat Goldthwait and Lenny Clarke (Clarke gets a lot of focus and one scene morphs from an old Clarke performance to a recent one, showing how much the comic has changed over the years.)
The documentary is made up of a blend of archive footage (some of it a bit rough, but certainly watchable), current interviews, photos and more. Solomita doesn't really weave the material together all that seamlessly, but despite lacking much structure, it's still enjoyable material to view and fans of comedians like Clarke will be pleased to have the footage.
Putting all the pieces together, we get a good overview of why this "scene" remains an important one in stand-up history, with a look at the locations (Boston's Comedy Connection vs. rival Chinese restaurant-turned-Comedy Club Don Ho's), the stars, the "breakout" moments (Wright going on the "Tonight Show") , rivalry with New York (Colin Quinn's troubles with one particular audience after announcing he was from New York) and the problems (cocaine and alcohol problems.)
Once breakout stars started to emerge from the scene, nightclubs that were going out of business were quickly snatched up and turned into comedy clubs (at one point, we're shown a spot where 4 comedy clubs were operating within a couple of hundred feet of each other), creating more openings for local comics (and, in the case of Lenny Clarke, offered the opportunity for the comedian to do an astonishing 9 shows in one night.)
Interestingly enough, the main part of documentary essentially ends with the explosion of comedy opportunities (cable shows, more clubs and more), talking about how that has essentially brought stand-up down by allowing everyone to be a stand-up - or what they thought a stand-up should sound like. While not exactly handled well by the film, at least that explains how this season of talent show "Last Comic Standing" is offering what has to be some of the most completely unfunny stand-ups I've ever seen.
VIDEO: "When Stand Up Stood Out" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame by Thinkfilm. Given the fact that the documentary uses everything from newly shot scenes to footage that looks like it shot from the back row of the venue. Sharpness and detail varies wildly, but the new footage at least looks moderately crisp and clear.
Some of the archive footage does have wear, artifacts and other issues, but no edge enhancement was present. Colors could appeared faded or mildly smeary during some of the older footage, but looked fine during the new footage.
SOUND: The film's stereo audio generally offered clear dialogue, although some of the archive footage could sound somewhat thin or a little distorted.
EXTRAS: Interview with comedian Dane Cook, 6-1/2 minutes of additional stand-up bonus footage, "Meaney on the Street" bonus footage, trailers and "making of".
Final Thoughts: "When Stand Up Stood Out" doesn't really build on its interviews and archive clips, but on their own terms, the clips do give an enjoyable look at this particular artistic community. As for the DVD edition, audio/video is fine (considering the material) and the DVD offers a few entertaining minor supplements. Recommended for fans of stand-up.
The Film B-