Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including the action adventure of “Jungle Cruise” (theatres and Disney+ with premium access), “The Green Knight’s” (in theatres) journey of self discovery and the documentary “For Madmen Only: The Stories of Del Close” (VOD) about the most famous funny person you’ve never heard of.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the family friendly “Jungle Cruise,” the surreal journey of self discovery “The Green Knight,” the heartwarming comedy of “The Exchange” and the comedy documentary “For Madmen Only: The Stories of Del Close.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Angie Seth chat up the weekend’s big releases including the action-adventure of “Jungle Cruise,” the surreal journey of self discovery “The Green Knight,” the heartwarming comedy of “The Exchange” and the comedy documentary “For Madmen Only: The Stories of Del Close.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Andrew Pinsent to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the action-adventure of “Jungle Cruise,” the surreal journey of self discovery “The Green Knight,” the heartwarming comedy of “The Exchange” and the comedy documentary “For Madmen Only: The Stories of Del Close.”
“For Madmen Only: The Stories of Del Close,” a new documentary now on VOD, is about the best-known funny man you’ve probably never heard of. Tina Fey says he taught her to be bold in life. Mike Myers says he learned the connection between comedy and bigger ideas from him and Robin Williams campaigns for a Church of Del. Del Close is called a living legend by Amy Poehler and yet, as the movie says, this Zelig of comedy has the same name recognition as a third-tier fast food chain.
As one of the pioneers of a new kind of theatre called improvisational comedy Close, along with a handful of others like Elaine May (who close calls a supernatural figure) and Mike Nichols, created the form and the rules of performing comedy without a net. Some were intellectual. “Always work at the top of your intelligence,” and “Don’t deny, respect the other person’s reality.” Others practical. “Remember where the object are,” and “Don’t do mime.” Most important of all, “You’re not locked into this like an actor with a script.”
Using recorded interviews with Close, who died of emphysema at age 64 in 1999, and newer interviews with many of his friends and students, like the names I listed above and Tim Meadows, George Wendt, Bob Odenkirk among others, plus recreations, (which have a “Closeness” about them because director Heather Ross based on Close’s autobiographical comic “Wasteland”), and archival footage and photographs, a story emerges of a self-destructive rebel who put human nature onstage in an attempt to explore why we behave the way we do.
By the end of the film, it’s a portrait of a complicated man whose window into human nature was both a gift and a curse. He was, as Dave Thomas describes him, “a delicate basket of eggs destined to break at any moment.” He was brilliant, but as Adam McKay points out, also a “bit of a baby sometimes.”
What remains is his pioneering work teaching improv (with a big leg up from Charna Halpern). His “Harold” teaching method, the structure used in longform improvisational theatre, is both rigid—there are a set of strict rules—but also freeing in a way that made his students, as Myers says, “get in touch with their higher selves.”
“You have a light within you,” he would tell them. “Burn it out.”
You can draw a straight line from Close to most folks who have made you laugh in the last thirty years. He was a guru, who never reaped the rewards or the recognition many of his students enjoyed but the film aims to correct the latter.
As often happens in biographies, the legend sometimes looms larger than life. Did he really give L. Ron Hubbard the idea to start a religion to circumvent taxes? Did he really volunteer to have his dreams monitored by the US government while high on LSD, leave the project early and then sent a letter saying he owed the government one more dream?
Who knows? They’re good stories though. Fact and fiction, it seems are the two sides of the coin that inform the legend of Del Close.
Info on the book from amazon.ca: Since opening in 1959, The Second City has transformed the state of comedy as we know it, creating a wickedly funny culture of improvisation and training thousands of artists-who now dominate popular entertainment-in the art of improv-based theater.
This newly revised and expanded edition of The Second City tells the story of the legendary comedy institution and the Emmy-winning sketch comedy classic SCTV, folding new material and commentary in with tales of The Second City’s storied past. The giants who got their start at The Second City in its earlier years-including Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley, Eugene Levy, Tim Meadows, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Gilda Radner, Joan Rivers, Martin Short, and Fred Willard-are joined in these pages by more recent alumni like Aidy Bryant, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Keegan-Michael Key,Jack McBrayer, Bob Odenkirk, and Jason Sudeikis.
The real stories of The Second City and its performers will make you see the comedy juggernaut in a whole new light. Did you know John Belushi got his start lifting jokes from The Second City? Or that many cast members-including Stephen Colbert and Nia Vardalos-sold tickets or waited tables at the theater before they made it to the stage?
The Second City takes you behind the scenes of the world’s leading improv theater. Now spanning six decades, the story of The Second City is both funnier and more poignant than anyone could have imagined.”
Each week on the nationally syndicated Richard Crouse Show, Canada’s most recognized movie critic brings together some of the most interesting and opinionated people from the movies, television and music to put a fresh spin on news from the world of lifestyle and pop-culture. Tune into this show to hear in-depth interviews with actors and directors, to find out what’s going on behind the scenes of your favourite shows and movies and get a new take on current trends. Recent guests include Ethan Hawke, director Brad Bird, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, Eric Roberts, Brian Henson, Jonathan Goldsmith a.k.a. “The most interesting man in the world,” and best selling author Linwood Barclay.
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