Benny Safdie’s deadpan spoof of stand-up comedy and staged cinéma verité verges on performance art. His Ralph Handel is a humorless white-collar worker who unaccountably spends his nights working the open mic circuit. Safdie bravely committed himself to actual nightclubs for several of these abysmal routines, lending a curious note of authenticity to the counterfeit documentary. Drawing upon Andy Kauffman’s anti-comedy and the discursive style associated with films like DAVID HOLZMAN’S DIARY, THE RALPH HANDEL STORY is a cunning portrait of a life coming unwound.
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A nerd's stand up.
Undiluted awkwardness is tough to swallow. This completely convincing portrayal of a hopeless schlub on the way down comes with nothing to make it go down easier. It's a nonstop parade of charmless urban nowheres. Try "Lonely Trip to Coney Island" for something with a little more warmth, not to say a little more meat.