Too Funny to Fail: The Life & Death of The Dana Carvey Show (2017)

Too Funny to Fail: The Life & Death of The Dana Carvey Show (2017)

NR

hulu

Ironically but delightfully, the story of the short-lived Dana Carvey Show is one of inspiration, joy, and hope

7.5

Movie

Cornish, English
Comedy, Documentary
2017
JOSH GREENBAUM
Bill Hader, Dana Carvey, Jon Glaser
95 min

TLDR

This is a comedy nerd’s (my) dream.

What it's about

Tracks the rise and fall of The Dana Carvey Show, the network sketch show that tanked in the ‘90s but found a niche spot among comedy nerds, not least because it launched the careers of then-unknowns Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, and Robert Smigel.

The take

Too Funny to Fail isn’t just a documentary about funny people. It’s a documentary that’s hilarious in its own right. Director Josh Greenbaum assembles the comedic powerhouse behind the short-lived Dana Carvey Show and has them recall the idiosyncratic, subversive skits they did on the show. They are, of course, naturally funny, but it’s the questions Greenbaum asks them off-cam, the clips he shows, and the titles he picks for them (Bill Hader, as a fan who used to watch the show in lieu of going to classes, is stuck with “once skipped school”) that gives the documentary its own comedic signature. The spectacular failure of The Dana Carvey Show is also an inspirational story of sorts, given the astronomical success its staff and cast have and are continuing to enjoy since its cancellation.

What stands out

Again, it has to be that cast. Joining Carvey, Carell, Colbert, and Smigel are Louis CK, Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Robert Carlock (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Dino Stamatopoulos (Community), and Jon Glaser (Parks and Recreation).

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