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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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