A young woman in New York City pursues her dream of becoming a stand up comic.
Pam says: On the coattails of the indie gem “The Opening Act” comes the counterpart and one that is just as charmingly entertaining, “All Joking Aside.” The film stars Raylene Harewood as Charlene, a struggling stand up comic who gets heckled off the stage thanks to the snarky and jaded former comic urban legend Bob (Brian Markinson). Initially, Charlene throws in the towel, but then pulls herself up by her bootstraps and forges a friendship with Bob who teaches her the do’s and don’ts of the trade.
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This story may be a familiar one, but where it differs is that it is told from a young Black woman’s perspective. Charlene learns to embrace who she is and find the comedy from within using that point of view. The relationship she develops with Bob is genuine and warm, perhaps slightly filling the shoes of her recently deceased father who was her role model. Together, both with their demons to quell, they grow and learn to be a better version of themselves. Of course, there’s plenty of laughs along the way as Charlene rides the stand up comic’s roller coaster of success and failures.
Writer James Pickering and director Shannon Kohli allow the character of Charlene to shed a light on the uniqueness of being not just a woman trying to make it in this good ol’ boys’ club, but as a Black woman. Charlene’s background is one that allows more depth than would be expected for someone her age, and the family issues constantly swimming in her head bring an element of authenticity to the film. Markinson’s gravely voice matches his persona in this film, but like Harewood’s Charlene, there’s a richly layered texture that is as smooth as silk as we delve just beneath the surface. Markinson and Harewood play off one another’s personalities with precision timing and delivery. It’s an odd pairing, but it works beautifully.
“All Joking Aside” is a charming, funny, and memorable story that accentuates the unique battles one woman faces in the entertainment business. With quick pacing, succinct writing, authentic performances and a genuine father-daughter chemistry between the leads, it’s a film that will warm your heart and make you laugh.
Check out “All Joking Aside” on demand beginning Nov. 13.